What is UCITA?
The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) was a highly discussed draft proposal in the USA, which was rejected 2003 and so discarded.
When 1999 the proposal of a new regulation for contracts of (computer-) software came up, the world was in turmoil. Not only so called “Shrink-Wrap-Licenses” should be legal when the law would be approved, but also software producers should have the right to delete software by themselves on a customers PC when the license for the product would run out which would be highly invasive for the customer.
What are Shrink-Wrap-Licenses?
The Shrink-Wrap-License is a special licence term that implies that the purchaser of a product (in that case mostly software, that means DVDs or CDs or alternatively internet downloads like eBooks) as soon as she/he has opened it (when the packaging of a CD is removed or the installation of downloaded software is started) will agree with all license terms and so with the contract which the software company specified.
The problem: the purchaser is not able to look at the license terms and with it at the quasi signed contract before he has opened the packaging or started the installation of a software.
What exactly caused the conflict?
The arguments above, the invasive cut-in for the purchaser and the fact to be forced so sign a contract without even seeing it lead to huge disagreements which the proposal in the USA brought along. Understandable the consumer advocates and also the consumers themselves were indignant because the remittal of such a law would deny the consumer all control over the contract with a producer or a company.
What was the solution to the conflict?
The problems were debated and in the end the new directives were written down in an altered version and formed the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA). That act allowed Shrink-Wrap-Licenses, but only under specific conditions: the consumer must have a possibility to read the contract first and the decide if he wants to agree or not.
But because the law was discussed even after this decree it was only valid in two states of America; Virginia and Maryland. Too many critics were voiced and many consumer advocates tried to get rid of the law. Also experts claimed that there was no real chance for UCITA in the future.
At the end of 2003 the law was definitely denied, anyways the bill and the debate are still existent.