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Licensing time bomb (InfoWorld)

Licensing time bomb

Software-law dispute explodes as enactment draws near

By Jessica Davis

Imagine the horror of walking into work one day to find your software vendor holding your company hostage by threatening to shut down your mission-critical systems unless you concede to its terms.

Sounds illegal, right? Perhaps not.

Although many IT professionals are unaware of it, that practice will become legally defensible if new legislation called the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, or UCITA, is approved.

UCITA is a proposed law for applying consistent rules to computer software licenses across all 50 states. It would

* give vendors the right to repossess software by disabling it remotely;

* make the terms of shrink-wrapped licenses more enforceable;

* prevent the transfer of licenses from one party to another without vendor permission;

* allow vendors to disclaim warrantees; and

* outlaw reverse engineering.

Proponents of the law, primarily software vendors, say it is time for a uniform law that applies directly to software licenses. Critics, including technology consumer groups such as the Society of Information Managers (SIM), say UCITA is fatally flawed and should be killed. Other trade organizations representing the motion picture industry, newspapers, magazines, and the music recording industry, have joined SIM in opposing UCITA.

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