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[ox-en] A Battle Over Software Licensing

A Battle Over Software Licensing

The battle lines are drawn in the struggle for a uniform standard in 
software licensing for all 50 states.


September 16, 2002
A Battle Over Software Licensing

A proposed law intended to standardize software licensing from state to 
state has ignited a battle between its supporters ? most notably, the 
business software industry ? and the many forces who have joined to defeat 

Opposition has united a strange collection of bedfellows: librarians, 
information-technology managers and corporate chief information officers, 
insurance and aerospace executives, and consumer groups.


Three years ago, a conference of lawmakers from various states agreed to a 
version of the legislation, and started circulating it for adoption by 
individual states. So far, only two have passed it: Maryland and Virginia. 
Most of the nation's state attorneys general oppose the legislation, 
primarily because they see it as potentially overriding various state 
consumer protection laws already on the books.

One of the proposed law's main effects would be to make binding contracts 
of the consumer licenses that come with shrink-wrapped software ? despite 
the fact the buyer often cannot read the licensing agreement before buying 
and opening the package.


The original version of the proposed code went so far as to let software 
companies electronically disable a program that was being used in violation 
of its license agreement. While that proviso was eliminated by recent 
amendments, critics like Mr. Lobert say so many loopholes remain in the 
statute that the amendments are almost meaningless.


"If Ucita passes in the states," said David McMahon, a consumer affairs 
lawyer in Charleston, Va., and the consumer representative on the board of 
the opposition group, "anybody buying new computer software will have less 
protection than when a consumer buys a cheap used car."

Copyright 2002 The New York Times

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if anything small falls into them they ensnare it, 
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