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Sample Letter to NCCUSL About UCITA

Please send this to your Commissioner. Click here to find the Commissioners from your State. There are up to 13 Commissioners from your state. If you can’t send that many letters, that’s OK. But please send as many as you can. Until July 29, you should send the letter to your state’s commissioners at the NCCUSL meeting hotel, because that’s where they’ll be.

For example, if you are from New York, Paul Weafer is one of your Commissioners. To send the letter to Paul Weafer, you would address the letter like this. Please substitute your Commissioners’ names for Paul Weafer’s.

Commissioner Paul Weafer
National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
c/o Hyatt Regency Tech Center
7800 East Tufts Avenue
Denver, CO 80237 FAX: 303-850-7164

Dear Commissioner:

As a representative of my state to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, I hope that you will speak and vote against the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act at your meeting in Denver.

Rather than finding a middle ground between the interests of software publishers and software customers, UCITA has sided with the publishers, alienating every consumer advocacy group that has studied the bill and drawing opposition from larger customers, libraries, and even software developers’ professional societies.

If I buy a book over the Net and accept a downloaded copy instead of a copy on paper, I should still be able to treat it as a book. When I’m finished reading it, I should be able to give my copy to a friend or a member of my family or sell it used. Downloading shouldn’t make me a second class citizen, subject to all manner of contractual restrictions on my use of the book that no publisher could impose on me if I bought a hard copy in the mass market.

If I buy a computer game in a store or over the Net, I should be able to treat it like a book or like any other game. I should be able to play it as many times as I want, until I throw it away, sell it used to someone else, or give it away. I’m not saying that I should be able to keep a copy and sell it too. I understand that it would be a violation of the Copyright laws for me to keep a copy of a game (or a book) that I sell used. But when I’m done with it, I should be able to dispose of it as I see fit.

If I go to a trade show or a store, I should be able to rely on a salesperson’s demonstrations. The same warranty rules should apply to demonstrations of computer games and board games, to complex software programs and to other complex merchandise. They are all finished products but many customers don’t understand the limitations of software as well as they understand other types of goods that they buy. It is unfair to loosen restrictions on software salespeople, making it even easier for unscrupulous ones to prey on consumers who have limited software shopping expertise.

If I shop for software, I should be able to find out the product’s warranty, the manufacturer’s support policy, and the cost of service. I can find this out easily for any other type of consumer goods, including many that come in smaller packages than software. I can buy software in a store, over the phone, or over the Net. But I can buy a fancy pen or a toaster in a store, over the phone, or over the Net. Why should I have rights to know the details of the sales contract before the pen or toaster sale, but not before the software sale? The products are finished and the contracts are written by the manufacturer long before I see the product in the store. It is outrageous that you are considering a law that says that software companies don’t have to tell me the terms of a deal until after I pay for the product, take it home, and start to use it.

Commissioner, I don’t know how UCITA got this far. I understand that another organization, the American Law Institute, worked on UCITA for several years and then abandoned it. I wish that you had abandoned it too and I hope that you will think carefully about how NCCUSL functions if a bill this one-sided could be the product of years of your organization’s work.
 
 

Yours truly,
 

 


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The articles at this web site are not legal advice. They do not establish a lawyer/client relationship between me and you. I took care to ensure that they were well researched at the time that I wrote them, but the law changes quickly. By the time you read this material, it may be out of date. Also, the laws of the different States are not the same. These discussions might not apply to your circumstances. Please do not take legal action on the basis of what you read here, without consulting your own attorney.

Questions or problems regarding this web site should be directed to Cem Kaner, kaner@kaner.com
Last modified:July 18, 1999. Copyright © 1998, Cem Kaner. All rights reserved.