Re: Legal Question
Fri, 27 Apr 2001 09:21:58 -0700 (PDT)

Congratulations to Jeff for the shortest and most coherent explanation of
UCITA that I have seen recently. BTY, Ben, the American Library
Association and almost all state library associations are vehemently
against UCITA in the form it is currently taking. It would be very,
very, bad news for libraries and shared access to information if it
succeeds. Texas has two versions of UCITA bills in our Legislature
right now. Please everyone pray and/or send your best vibes toward our
state that those bills will die. We need all the legislative
intelligence (?) we can find.


B. Rhodes
Audiovisual Consultant
Northeast Texas Library System

On Thu, 26 Apr 2001 05:54:23 -0700 (PDT) "Clark, Jeff" <>
> Ben,
> UCITA is the Uniform Computer Information Act. It's a
> form of contract law, which began life as an updating of
> the commercial code but, when disagreement over its
> drafting ensued, broke away and became a separate effort.
> It is now undergoing an introduction and ratification
> process in all the states.
> Only two have enacted it so far--Maryland and Virginia. I
> know VA has a few modifications, most beneficial to
> libraries, but I'm not sure about MD. And a few states
> have already introduced legislation to lock out the
> introduction of UCITA altogether. About half the
> attorneys-general are opposed to it. Right now, at least.
> The idea behind UCITA is to create a uniform law to
> benefit commerce in the realm of computer software
> products. But it is so heavily weighted in the favor of
> publishers and against consumers--including businesses
> that consume software--that there's widespread opposition
> to it in its present form.
> Probably the most visible feature of UCITA is that
> it makes shrinkwrap and click-through licenses valid. And
> since DVDs are in fact a form of computer info, they
> automatically come under its provisions. That means the
> "home use only" provision on DVDs (like the one on
> videotapes) would *literally* apply, no matter what
> copyright law says. One other aspect of UCITA I'll
> mention here is that though it deals with "computer
> information", there is an option for other forms of
> product to opt in under its provisions. That's why I say
> our traditional videocassettes could come under its
> umbrella, as well as books (and not just e-books).
> Proponents of UCITA often argue that the direst nightmare
> scenarios like these will never happen. And that UCITA
> wouldn't override copyright law. But the case history for
> the latter is not reassuring... and as for the former, if
> producers' intentions are so pure that they wouldn't
> alienate their consuming public, then why not formalize
> into UCITA the provision that rights under copyright law,
> especially for libraries, would override any
> contrary specific provisions under UCITA normally
> applicable to all consumers? We essentially tried that in
> VA--and it didn't pass muster as an amendment. So we had
> to settle for a milder version of some library rights
> when acquiring computer products.
> One of the major problems with the possibility of living
> under an unaltered UCITA for those of us with media
> libraries is the nature of our collections under present
> marketing structures. Our educational suppliers, dealing
> with us as their main market, would be unlikely to
> institute unreasonable use restrictions under UCITA. But
> product we buy that is more mass market or otherwise
> specialized (all those business videos, etc.)--since
> their main markets may lie elsewhere, there may be no
> attempt to accomodate our own educational and public
> service interests. These might have to be negotiated on a
> case by case basis, at extra cost.
> Right now, though, I have a pretty good feeling that
> UCITA won't receive universal adoption without some major
> changes by the time it runs the national gauntlet. And by
> then, we'll probably end up with the kind of contract law
> we should have had in the first place if there'd been
> more compromise.
> But I could be wrong, of course. ;)
> Jeff
> On Wed, 25 Apr 2001 13:32:49 -0700 (PDT) Ben Achtenberg
> <> wrote:
> > I was hoping somebody else would ask this so I wouldn't have to
> display my
> > ignorance, but...what's UCITA??????
> >
> > Ben Achtenberg / Fanlight Productions
> >
> >
> > At 08:35 AM 4/25/2001 -0700, you wrote:
> >
> > ...That is, unless UCITA gets implemented in all the
> > >states...
> **********
> Jeff Clark
> Director
> Media Resources (MSC 1701)
> James Madison University
> 540-568-6770 (voice)
> 540-568-3405 (fax)

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