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[FYI] UCIT imperils Academic Freedom

New Software-Licensing Legislation Said to Imperil
Academic Freedom

The measure, designed to make state laws consistent, has
provoked a storm of criticism


Imagine that an architecture professor distributes to his
distance-education students digitized photographs of the palace at
Versailles, warns the students about the images' poor quality -- and
then gets hit with a lawsuit from the software company that
provided the pictures. 

The company accuses the professor of violating the terms of the
license agreement, which prohibits customers from publicly
criticizing the product. A judge rules in favor of the company, citing
UCITA, a new law that makes ubiquitous software-licensing
agreements readily enforceable. 

The scenario is only imaginary, but scholars warn that it could easily
become reality in any states that adopt UCITA, the Uniform
Computer Information Transactions Act, which was drafted by a
legal group that seeks to make state laws consistent nationwide. 

Those contract provisions also have the effect of curtailing
interlibrary loans and archival preservation, critics say. For
example, an academic medical library refused to lend the
European Journal of Surgical Oncology to another library
because it said the journal's license agreement did not allow
interlibrary loans, Ms. Nisbet says. 

Kristian Köhntopp, NetUSE AG Siemenswall, D-24107 Kiel
Tel: +49 431 386 436 00, Fax: +49 431 386 435 99
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