[Libs-Or] DECISION ON UCITA
wyma at newportlibrary.org
Tue Aug 5 14:54:26 PDT 2003
(which, even after reading all the caveats below, still seems like good news
to me. WR)
ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline
Volume 12, Number 73
August 5, 2003
In This Issue:  NCCUSL ANNOUNCES DECISION ABOUT UCITA
AFFECT PRESS RELEASE
 NCCUSL announces decision about UCITA
At the Annual Meeting of the National Conference of Commissioners on
Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) currently in progress in Washington, D. C.,
the president of the Conference, K. King Burnett, issued a letter to all
commissioners announcing the NCCUSL Executive Committee decision to
discharge the UCITA Standby Drafting Committee and to stop spending any
further resources in promoting the Act. NCCUSL issued a press release on
Friday August 1 to announce these decisions.
Despite this significant decision, UCITA remains a proposed uniform act
that could be pursued in any legislature. In fact, President Burnett
noted in his letter that NCCUSL is "...not abandoning interest in the
subject matter." He stated that "UCITA will remain in place as a
resource for the American legal and political community and for
reference by the courts."
This change in NCCUSL strategy falls short of an official "downgrading"
of the act to a model law. At last year's NCCUSL annual meeting,
commissioners circulated a petition that proposed that the Conference
vote on downgrading UCITA but the petition was withdrawn. At the time,
President Burnett stated publicly that if UCITA did not gain ABA
approval and enactments in at least a few states, they would have to
consider a "different approach." Neither goal was achieved.
In his letter to the commissioners, President Burnett praised the
efforts of the UCITA drafting committee and at no point acknowledged any
of the substantive problems of the Act. No mention was made of
"bomb-shelter" acts (anti-UCITA legislation) that have been passed in
four states (Iowa, West Virginia, North Carolina and Vermont).
Burnett also said, "Unfortunately in the real world, sometimes doing
the right thing at the right time is not enough. The reality of
groundbreaking legislation is that it is often either ahead of its time
or comes with great political upheaval, or both. Clearly we are
experiencing directed intense and incessant politics and strong
opposition, without the suggestion of concrete alternatives, from some
consumer groups, insurance companies and libraries, and the allies they
The NCCUSL decision is a remarkable one and, as acknowledged by
Burnett, is certainly the direct result of the effort of libraries and
of AFFECT (Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions, the
national coalition opposing UCITA, which the library associations helped
to found. Nevertheless, the decision does not affect the Virginia and
Maryland enactments, which remain on the books. Thus, the rationale for
bomb-shelter bills remains. In addition, we have just learned that at
the September 17, 2002 meeting of the NCCUSL Executive Board, UCITA was
taken off the "target list" of acts for active promotion by
commissioners. Despite this decision, two introductions were made in
2003 and following the ABA defeat. The president of NCCUSL publicly
stated that UCITA would still be promoted in 2003 legislative sessions.
Furthermore, other strong proponents of UCITA are not at all bound by
this decision and could still promote the Act.
Miriam Nisbet, ALA Legislative Counsel and President of AFFECT, and
other AFFECT Board members attended the NCCUSL meeting as observers.
 AFFECT Press Release issued August 4
AMERICANS FOR FAIR ELECTRONIC COMMERCE TRANSACTIONS
1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Suite 403
Washington, D. C. 20004
Contact: Carol Ashworth
cashworth at alawash.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D. C.: The Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce
Transactions (AFFECT), the national coalition opposing the Uniform
Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), applauds the decision of
the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL)
not to spend any additional resources in promoting state adoptions of
UCITA. The proposed legislation has been the subject of considerable
controversy for a decade. NCCUSL was responsible for drafting the
proposed uniform law to provide rules for licensing software and other
computer information transactions. On Friday NCCUSL also announced that
it would be discharging its Standby Drafting Committee for UCITA.
In response to President K. King Burnett's contention that UCITA failed
even though it was the "right thing at the right time," Miriam Nisbet,
President of AFFECT, commented, "UCITA's failure to take the state
legislatures by storm was more than a matter of timing - it was the
wrong act as well as the wrong time. We are quite pleased that the
Conference has decided to expend no further energy on UCITA."
The decision made at this year's NCCUSL annual meeting recognizes
UCITA's continued lack of acceptance by state legislatures. UCITA
introductions in the Nevada and Oklahoma legislatures failed this year
shortly after NCCUSL was unsuccessful in its efforts to garner approval
of the Act from the American Bar Association. Also this year, Vermont
became the fourth state to take the unusual step of passing UCITA
"bomb-shelter" provisions to protect its citizens from the long-arm
reach of UCITA. Iowa voted to remove the sunset provision on its similar
law that had passed in 2000. WV and NC enacted "bomb-shelter" provisions
"It is heartening to see NCCUSL backing away from a very flawed
statute, but it will never be able to write sound law for the
information economy until it takes to heart the criticisms of the user
sector, " said Professor Jean Braucher of the University of Arizona
College of Law. "The debate is not just 'politics.' There are
fundamental policy problems with UCITA."
AFFECT is a coalition of over sixty retail and manufacturing concerns,
financial institutions, non-profits, consumer advocates, technology
professionals and libraries that has successfully opposed UCITA in the
more than twenty states that have considered the act since it was
enacted in Virginia and Maryland in 2000.
ALAWON (ISSN 1069-7799) is a free, irregular publication of the
American Library Association Washington Office. All materials subject to
copyright by the American Library Association may be reprinted or
redistributed for noncommercial purposes with appropriate credits.
To subscribe to ALAWON, send the message: subscribe ala-wo
[your_firstname] [your_lastname] to listproc at ala.org or go to
http://www.ala.org/washoff/alawon. To unsubscribe to ALAWON, send
the message: unsubscribe ala-wo to listproc at ala.org. ALAWON archives at
ALA Washington Office, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 403,
Washington, D.C. 20004-1701; phone: 202.628.8410 or 800.941.8478
toll-free; fax: 202.628.8419; e-mail: alawash at alawash.org; Web site:
http://www.ala.org/washoff. Executive Director: Emily Sheketoff.
Office of Government Relations: Lynne Bradley, Director; Camille Bowman,
Mary Costabile, Don Essex, Patrice McDermott and Miriam Nisbet. Office
for Information Technology Policy: Rick Weingarten, Director; Kathy
Mitchell, Carrie Russell. ALAWON Editor: Bernadette Murphy.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Libs-Or