UCITA Hearings Held, But Vote Postponed

UCITA Hearings Held, But Vote Postponed

Librarians and other groups opposed to the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act spoke on behalf of amendments to the legislation November 16–18. At hearings sponsored by a committee of the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws in Washington, D.C., advocates and critics of the act debated a package of 30 amendments submitted by the Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions coalition, of which the American Library Association is a founding member.

American Association of Law Libraries representative Robert Oakley and University of Washington Law Librarian Jonathan Franklin spoke in favor of preventing software vendors from inserting terms in their shrink-wrap or click-on licenses that either undermine fair-use and first-sale protections or disallow public comment and criticism normally permitted under federal copyright law.

The committee heard about 20 hours of testimony, but deferred voting for a few weeks on which amendments they will recommend for inclusion in a revised UCITA statute.

The American Bar Association’s working group on UCITA was also present at the hearings and will offer its own recommendations. Carol Ashworth, UCITA grassroots coordinator for the ALA Washington Office, told American Libraries the ABA position is considered a crucial step in determining UCITA’s legislative future.

Although NCCUSL had agreed to temporarily suspend its promotion of UCITA in state legislatures, there is no evidence that support for the statute has subsided. “It is still possible for industry supporters, particularly Microsoft and AOL, to push for introduction of UCITA in the 2002 legislative sessions,” Ashworth noted.

Posted November 26, 2001.