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UKCMG tackles Ucita

David Bicknell


New US legislation that puts suppliers in a commanding position during software licence disputes will be a hot topic at the UKCMG user group meeting in York in May.

The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (Ucita) has been passed by Virginia and Maryland, against the wishes of users, who insist that it tips the software licensing balance too far in favour of suppliers.

UKCMG chief executive Geoff Petherick said: "Ucita is so biased towards the supplier that any UK user accepting this jurisdiction of the US courts will be liable to a new order of remote stiffing."

Among users' concerns are fears that the Act will enable suppliers to disable users' systems in the event of a dispute over software licensing. According to US user group the Society for Information Management, Ucita's electronic "self-help" remedy is unfair and unnecessary given the availability of monetary damages and injunctive relief under current law.

"Ucita's proponents say electronic self-help gives licensees added protections. On the contrary, this provision legitimises and sets forth a blueprint for this Draconian remedy," the group said.

Ucita would also enable a supplier to restrict a consumer's right to sue for a product defect, to donate the product to charity, to use the product, or even to publicly discuss or criticise the product or information contained in it.

Eventually, UK users are likely to find Ucita clauses turning up in many of their software contracts incorporated under US law - and particularly Virginia law.


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