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UCITA Fight Comes to Texas 97

ILikeRed writes "Well, you mentioned this story more than once, and even gave advice on fighting it. But now the UCITA has come to Texas, my home state, so I am hoping you will send out the word, so we can show that people do not want this legislation, even if it is in Compaq's back yard. And here I thought they were supposed to be a company that got it - can anyone submit a full list of companies supporting this thing? Might be a good cause for a boycott...."
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UCITA Fight Comes to Texas

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    lignite is a crappy source of power that wouldn't be used if the state of texas wasn't an absolute business whore. since texas is willing to let Alcoa fart pollution into the air with gleeful abandon, it seems likely they won't give two shits about what UCITA will do, and thus it's almost certain to pass. now do you understand?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    i) Companies, and more importantly consumers, won't always be able to know what their risks are because this law allows for terms of contract which can only be read after the product has been purchased.
    ii) Backdoors and timebombs in software will be allowed, in my understanding [infoworld.com], to be inserted into software without mention.
    iii) The UCITA adside, this sort of logic is illogical. Put another way, you're saying that a contract law which unfairly restricts the rights of one party over another is fine, because the party at the disadvatage isn't compelled to enter into the offending contract. First, this improperly assumes that there is, and will be, an equally functional or similar product which does not have the same restrictions. Second, this throws out the window the concept that the burden of justice is on the laws, and replaces it with a concept that the burdan of justice is on the individual (consumer of corporation). This can lead to some very frightening situations - for example, that logic would allow, with only a slight strech of the imagination, a situation similar to that of 'seperate but equal' schools, another way of looking at it is a pharmacutical law which places the burden of certification of drugs on the consumer, not the manufacturer/state.

    Put snidely, if you're serious about this, you're on crack.

  • No, since we're talking about Texas, the best possible situation would be the bill just dying out; that's what happens to the majority of bills in the Texas Legislature, because of the sheer volume of legislation introduced.
  • Graham and Hutchison aren't the ones to talk to. Contact you state senator/representative:
    http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/senmem.ht m [state.tx.us]
    http://www.house.state.tx.us/house/member.htm [state.tx.us]
  • they mean Chiquita??! Everytime I see UCITA I think of bananas!

    That's because this law is bananas.

  • the latest status is, looks like it's still going to happen. there is some information

    here [neighborsf...ghbors.com]

    and a decent article from back in '99 (google cached)

    here [google.com]

  • Mr. Hannon. I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record.
  • I thought Compaq was out of Canada and Dell was in Texas?
  • Ah, So Basically, We have UCITA going down in VA, where AOL lives, next we have it going down in WA, where to of the biggest PC OEM's in the country live, what do you want to bet WA or CA are next???

    Although I do notice both VA and TX are republican states also....

  • That's right, I actually did a little detective work! Not all of us Rednecks in Texas are gonna take this sitting down!! Small businesses (as usual) are going to get stomped on by this. And as a partner in a small business, I REFUSE to vote for any state representative who votes yes on these bills. And I'll get my family to do the same... Heck, around here that's half the county!! :-)

    But seriously, here is the information promised. It won't allow direct linking to a bill, but go to this page [state.tx.us] and search for "Uniform Computer Information"

    The Bills are:
    House Bill 1785
    Senate Bill 709

    Now, concerned Texans, write your representative! And if you need help visit AFFECT. [ucita.com]

  • Although I do notice both VA and TX are republican states also....

    I probably ought not respond to this troll, but Maryland has also passed UCITA. Quoting from AFFECT's history-of-UCITA page [4cite.org]:

    Maryland's law went into effect in October 2000. The Information Technology Board's UCITA Committee is evaluating the need for further legislation. None is planned in 2001.

    Virginia is refining its law to go into effect July 1, 2001.

    Last time I checked, Maryland is a Democrat-controlled state, and it was the first state to pass UCITA and have it take effect. So much for that idiotic notion that Democrats are good and Republicans are bad...

  • Don't just depend on the official lines of communication. Look for friends and relatives who know people who could arrange a personal communication. This is often the best way to get a message powerfully communicated.

    Your boss's cousin may be the Senator's wife. I remember when when I finally realized that my classmate was my MP's (Member of Parliament) Daughter. Guess who would be the better person to get a message through: The MP's Secretary -- who's job it is to filter his communication, or his daughter?

    Even if you can't get back-door access to your elected official, try and contact them in person...

    Call and ask if it would be possible to see him/her.

    Drop off your letter in person. Ask if you can see him/her. You may not be able to, but this is a far more impressive action than blasting off an email -- Among other things, they will take it to mean that you have the time to talk to people about things.

    This is actually far easier than it sounds... Chances are that their constituency office is in or near a busy location. It's quite possible that you go by the office on your daily commute. Be aware of where constituency offices are so that you can drop by 'on a whim'.

    Although you you may not be able to talk to your elected offical, be prepared for success. Knowing what you would say if you talked to your rep in person will also allow you to explain the same issue to other people around you.

  • I can do something about this! I'm currently evaluating Compaq computers as a replacement for Sun systems in a major application. If you Compaq, insist on supporting this bill, kiss your chances of winning this application goodbye. And you Florance, if you vote for this bill or support it in any way, I will do everything I can to get you booted out next election. If not you, then the next Republican that takes your place, and I usually vote republican. This stupid screwing of the consumers by lobbiests, companies and thier political lackeys must stop.
  • Hey, if UCITA becomes law in most or all states, then guess what?

    Reverse engineering will become even more rampant in countries outside of the USA, Shrinkwrap licenses will become null and void due to their draconian and rights violating terms, and suddenly open-source will look even MORE apealing to the corporations.

    Hmmmmm. Could this be a good thing in the long term for all involved?
  • Would you please post a copy of your letter?
  • All I know is this will not affect the software I buy and use. This only will affect those stupid lusers out there that don't read their software linceses before agreeing to them, or buy software from companies that are less than reputable. If this passes in my home state I'll stop buying commercial software, period. I'll only use GPL software or software I've already purchased and continue to be happy. Live and let die.
  • Why would Compaq support UCITA? Don't they owe their existence to reverse engineering?

    The answer to your question is that the lawyers are running the company.

    Anyone who's ever taken some business-centric classes in college will tell you that a company is initially run by the techies (startup size), passes to sales and marketing (medium to large size) and eventually lands in the laps of the laywers (international size). Compaq, despite their cool servers, is run by the lawyers for the lawyers.

  • Ah, trolling. IHBT; YHBT. More specifically, YTHBT. But to get back to the serious matter at hand...

    Can you imagine the uproar when my grandma and yours are asked to set up a little drug certification laboratory in their kitchens?

    I don't have to imagine... where do you think I get my crack?

    None of the software I use at home or at work was purchased

    Fair enough; though I can assume, from that statement, that you would like to enact a law which would force all developers to release code under the GPL! Commie!

    I doubt Linus will put a backdoor into my software. It is possible, but he has been trustworthy in the pas.

    Yeah, Linus is trusted in my PGP prefs, too. That's irrelevent, though, due to the fact that Linus hardly contributes to the kernel development anymore. That fact is made all the worse, seeing as most of the original work wasn't done by Linus anyway, that no-good slacker.

  • It's worth noting that the passage of UCITA has not exactly led to a flood of IT businesses coming to Maryland. Even the 800 Pound Gorilla [microsoft.com] still claims jurisdiction in the state of Washington.
    Ooh, moderator points! Five more idjits go to Minus One Hell!
    Delenda est Windoze
  • Could this lead to an effective boycott method for UCITA supporters? Buy their product en masse, wait 29 days and return it?
  • Compaq is based in Houston IIRC. Dell is based in Austin/Round Rock.

    News for geeks in Austin: www.geekaustin.org [geekaustin.org]
  • Funny, yes, but I would have chosen the "Insightful" moderation. That's a great explanation/allegory of what this bill introduces.
  • Can I have it!? :)
  • I've previously sent e-mail to two senators and a representative in my state (Iowa) regarding the DMCA and had fair success:
    • Senator Charles Grassley (R) sent a two-page snail-mail directly responding to my specific complaints.
    • Senator Tom Harkin (D) sent an e-mail reply stating that the DMCA had to be passed in order to comply with the WTO and ignored my specific complaints.
    • Representative Jim Nussle sent a snail mail demonstrating his complete lack of understanding of the DMCA and the consequences of his actions
    Basically, DO SOMETHING; the results are not that bad!
  • The problem comes when the "legal obligations" become so prevalent that you really have no choice but to put up with them. You can't dismiss it with a simple "don't take it": that's like suggesting that if you don't like CSS or the DMCA, never buy a DVD. You just wind up "putting up with it".

    I don't want to put up with it.

  • I went and read Richard Stalman's piece that states that software manufacturers are liable for their software, unless they override that liability on the shrink-wrap licence. Most open source has no shrinkwrap. If it weren't for that, I'd allow it.
  • This would probably help the open-source movement. Consider this: there are probably more copies of "pirated" MS-Office in the hands of private individuals than purchased copies. Note that I am only considering private individuals (corporations usually pay). Many people are not used to paying for word processors, etc. Giving Microsoft better tracking capabilities may cut down on pirate versions of their software, but people who don't like paying will most likely move to Open Source versions or free personal versions. A few public relations disasters (of the kind that only MS seems capable of pulling off) will only further the abandonment of Office. I see this as a boon for Linux and Open Source; the law makers are giving MS enough rope to hang themselves....
  • Federal legislation to pre-empt? You ARE on crack. The problem is too *much* legislation. The best possible case is hopeless political deadlock leading to total inaction. Federal laws can't legitimately pre-empt state laws anyhow -- that's in direct contradiction to the 10th and 9th amendments. But then we all know that the Constitution is so much Charmin these days anyhow...
  • All your base belong to UCITA now. AFAIK, (And I know because I help plitico's with their databases) real letters by snail mail work best. Keep it short, polite, and if at all possible, get your neighbors to sign too.

    If you have the time and are willing to spend the effort, see if you can't schedule an appointment with the senator or congressmen (no more than 10 mins.) to give them your say in person. Take two or three others with if possible. That way they know you may be lunitic, but not fringe.

  • that's appropriate, because UCITA IS F*CKING BANANAS!
  • That's all true. Writing and visits are better than email for influencing a legislator. And your observation about communications is certainly true for the US Congress, and perhaps some state legislatures, but it is not necessarily true for how many Texas legislators are using email during the current session.

    But if you have the time, do write a paper letter or go visit them in Austin. Those are certainly more effective.


  • true. And it is a BS 'law' (imho).

    Though I, unfortunately have little faith in our politicians - especially those in Texas - that are supposed to act in the public's interests.

    I know that this has been defeated in the past, but I have a feeling that many of the... how do I say this without flaming people... "hick" states will pass this.
    Hey - all states have hicks, hell Southeast oregon = hick country, but some states have more than others (you know exactly what I'm talking about).
    Anyways, I think the hard fight will be for us in many of the states that traditionally haven't given a damn about the average citizen - a $4 minimum wage comes to mind.

    Oh.. one last thing - we all rant and rave - but it would be nice for some of us to form our own arguements, as opposed to copying word for word what the "official anti-___________" organization states.

    Regardless - fight the good fight

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • Here's what you do once you know who to contact.

    There's a series of bills in both the House and Senate that relate to this. I would suggest reading(or atleast glancing through them to see what each one is about.

    SB 393 [state.tx.us]
    SB 709 [state.tx.us]
    HB 1201 [state.tx.us]
    HB 1379 [state.tx.us]
    HB 1785 [state.tx.us]

    When you contact your Represtentative and Senator, write a nice little letter that expresses your opinion. Also include some general info(like good websites) that explain why the UTICA is bad.

    Finally, if your in the Austin area please drop this by your rep's Capitol office. If not, fax it to their Capitol office. DO NOT send this to their district office in your area. They are currently in session, and will not be there.

    P.S. If you really want to get in good, take them to a nice long lunch/dinner and express your views then. But atleast to something.
  • I saw something interesting in the posting. A proposed boycott of Compaq?

    I'm going to make a comparison here.

    You go to the corner store and buy a few 5 cent candies. All well and good. For whatever reason you decide to boycott the store that sells them.

    A nationwide chain isn't going to be affected by the loss of your penny candy sales. Besides, you couldn't afford their bigger items anyway.

    And along comes a company [eds.com] or two [gm.com]. They give exclusive purchasing contracts to this chain of corner stores. Two multinational companies have just destroyed any effectiveness a consumer boycott might have possibly had.

    Compaq doesn't care about end user sales. They have at least those two companies providing more revenue than personal sales ever could and buying up new rounds of hardware (bundled with Microsoft Software I might add) every five years.

    The plant that's local to me has 2500 nodes in the engine plant alone, all Compaqs. And this is a small plant.

    A boycott won't even make them blink.


  • Reverse-engineering is outlawed in the DMCA, not UCITA. The UCITA just prevents you from selling OR GIVING AWAY software when you don't use it anymore, prevents you from getting your money back if they release a shitty product, and gives them the right to disable your software remotely for whatever reason turns them on. No big deal.
  • Ah, you didn't know? You have to decide whether you agree to the terms of the license that's inside the box before you open it.
  • Has anyone found a link to the text of this beast?
  • Oh. Here it is: www.law.upenn.edu/bll/ulc/ucita/ucita200.htm [upenn.edu] (duh -- it's the same in all states, hence the UNIFORM)
  • Sure, but just because they were one of the little fish in the industry doesn't mean they want to help the current little fish.

    Obviously all the major tech companies were small at one point, but to remain major they have to crush any small companies who might challenge them.


  • For those of us who are actually in/near Austin, anyone know of organized plans for protest?

    On an aside, I was at the City Council last night when they gutted a proposal for strong police oversight [aclutx.org]. So expect more police beating on nonviolent protesters :(


  • Sure you can have my iPaq, but there's a disposal fee of $1000.00 - But I am rethinking my decision. Perhaps I will just 'exorcise' it and change the OS to Linxu (Thats the official CmdrTaco spelling).
  • I'm throwing away my Compaq iPaq.. Just when a huge corporate megalith had created something so cool. Bastards.
  • It's long been said that Texans elect the worst scoundrels from their home districts and send them off to the Capitol. Hence, they're out of the way, and can't do any mischief in the local community. This might make for buffoons on C-SPAN, but Texans are not widely known for caring for the opinions of outsiders.

    You want openly corrupt politicians, look at Louisana. Ask any Louisanan about the "Elect the Crook, not the Kook" bumper stickers of a few years back.

  • >> I don't think that we Texans will
    tolerate this kind of nonsense..

    Considering some of the politicians from Texas I've seen on C-SPAN, there's little that Texas-at-large won't tolerate. The only loopier characters I've seen have been from California.
  • They also have a large campous here in Dallas.
  • What alternatives will there be? If the big companies get a hold of this, they'll have us all (excuse me) by the nuts!

    I just found out about the bill, and from what I know, it's very very scary. There is a reason that so many big companies are opposed to it. I like the freedom that we have now with software, code, and technology. Software is a tricky thing, it's information, and inforation, I admint, is hard to define, let alone control. But I can think of so many negative repurcussions to UCITA. I'm ashamed it's even been allowed anywhere.

  • they mean Chiquita??! Everytime I see UCITA I think of bananas!


  • Federal laws can't legitimately pre-empt state laws anyhow -- that's in direct contradiction to the 10th and 9th amendments.

    They can when it envolves interstate commerce according to Article 1 section 8.

  • So...like...if this passes, will the next step be to apply laws like this to vehicles, appliances, and whatever else? Can you imagine, "pay us $x or we'll shut down all schoolbuses!" Better yet "so what do you think about your pacemaker now?"

    Oh yeah, I'm not a troll; I'll prove it.

    My point is, often, the worst thing about a bill or a law, is not its direct affect, but the gateway it becomes for many other things to happen. Once we define legalities on the issues in UCITA, we can go from software to...many more things. Right now I don't see that being a possibility, too much of a shock (the frog in the bioling pot analogy comes to mind). But in twenty years...who knows?

  • No. Perhaps you didn't see the list of businesses aligned against UCITA. Perhaps you think that because the power companies have plenty of leeway, then any and all businesses must necessarily be able to go apeshit whenever and however they want.

    Perhaps you think that knocking down straw men gives your opinion some legitimacy.

    You would, of course, be wrong.

    Would you like to try again?
  • As far as I can understand, this is merely a little muscle flexing by the TX legislature to see what will be tolerated by the people of texas. I don't think that we Texans will tolerate this kind of nonsense..

    This may be compaq's backyard, but they only have two cities that they run major ops in (Austin and Houston, I believe), and I don't think the four million other counties will toleratet his sort of nonsense. Of course, I've been wrong before.

  • Well I certainly hope so. Take a look at this little clause:

    "UCITA section 816 allows software vendors to place disabling codes in software and to activate them remotely (such as by sending an e-mail) to shut down a customer's use of the product."

    Hmm, that's nice. Add this to proprietary hardware and hard drive copy protection, and you've got your customers in a frigging prison. Here's the number to the congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121. Call Phil Graham and Kay Bailey Hutchison (the Texas Senators) and let them know how you feel. Thank God for Free Software.
  • Irene Kosturakis, senior intellectual property counsel at Compaq, said the concerns about UCITA are overstated and asserted that the measure would add more safeguards in areas where vendors already have rights under existing laws, including remote software disabling.
    Giving a software company this much power is just asking for trouble. It's like giving the FBI the power to wire-tap someone's phone at their own discretion.

    Anyway, what happens when some cracker breaks in and starts going through and disabling all of their customers software. Not only would it hurt the consumer, but consumers would loose faith in the company, and avoid bying software from them if they fear that they could be cut off at any time.
  • Ah yes...the lure of the female body. In India, we find the Kama Sutra to be very graphic in its depiction of sexual positions. Although this site, shows many similar erotic images, but in full detail, rather than the very, very old ancient drawings found in the sacred book. Too bad you are being blocked...there are quite a few nice pictures on this site. Thank you very very much.
  • I'm feeling bored.

    Move to texas, violate the UCITA, receive a trip to death row.
  • It depends on what people are used to. If Microsoft change their licence, do you think that thousands of CIOs will risk their careers on changing their primary software platform? Of course not, meaning that people will grow used to this kind of licence and they will become widespread.


  • >i) Companies, and more importantly consumers,
    > won't always be able to know what their risks
    > are because this law allows for terms of
    > contract which can only be read after the
    > product has been purchased

    None of the software that I use at home or at work was purchased.

    >ii) Backdoors and timebombs in software will be

    I doubt Linus will put a backdoor into my software. It is possible, but he has been trustworthy in the pas.

    >another way of looking at it is a pharmacutical
    >law which places the burden of certification of
    > drugs on the consumer

    Now this is straining your credibility as an upright anonymous coward very far. Can you imagine the uproar when my grandma and yours are asked to set up a little drug certification laboratory in their kitchens? What congresscritter or judge is going to say "Look granny, you make some might tasty cookies in your kitchen. Are you telling the court that you can't certify an itty bitty little pill in that kitchen of yours?" Somehow, I find it hard to think that would happen.

    >Put snidely, if you're serious about this, you're
    > on crack.

    You say that like it's a bad thing!

  • You need to write to your congresscritter and let them know that UCITA is actually hostile to the interests of business. Or rather, it would benefit the minority of businesses (the ones who license software) at the expense of all other businesses (the licenscees of the aforementioned software). According to the article, Phillips Petroleum is one of the companies lobbying against the passage of UCITA. Does Texas have any large software firms that will benefit greatly from UCITA? Does Texas have any large petroleum companies which stand to get screwed if UCITA passes? Make sure your congressman knows who butter's his bread.
  • Why would Compaq support UCITA? Don't they owe their existence to reverse engineering?

    Microsoft exists because IBM was too afraid of antitrust scrutiny to buy them or demand exclusive licensing rights to DOS. Hypocrisy doesn't really seem to bother anyone these days...

  • Keep in mind most Congressmen pay attention to the voters rougly like this:

    1. PACs
    2. Rich/Influential Folk (not you or anyone you know)
    3. People who write letters by hand (e.g. Old Folks)
    4. People who write letters (the rest of us)

    Several Congressmen have stated that they flat out ignore emailed messages and Internet petitions. Remember that they are old technology, with old habits. Email is for biznesses and for getting pictures of the grandkids.
  • Seems to me that this power is contingent upon "promoting the progress of science and useful arts". It's not at all clear that the UCITA will result in progress in the sciences and useful arts.
  • Although I do notice both VA and TX are republican states also....
    You are mistaken. Texas is NOT a Republican state. White Texans vote Republican but most Blacks and lots of Latinos vote Democratic. Since White voters are in the majority (for now ;-) it is true that the Republicans control Texas politically, but you would have to look really hard in some parts of heavily-Hispanic South Texas to find a Republican.

    If you look at the exit polls from the last election [cnn.com], 91% of Blacks in Texas said they voted for Gore, while 54% of Hispanics voted for him. 73% of Whites voted for Bush.

    A funny aside: for some inexplicable reason Bush the Lesser is popular with Texas Hispanics. That just goes to show that if you speak a little Spanish Latinos will vote for you in droves no matter how fucked up your policies are. You don't even have to speak Spanish well, as Bush manages to mangle Spanish much worse than he does the English language.

    I would have used the voting actual results, but after searching the web I found that those results are hard to come by, and the Houston Comical [chron.com] wants money to access their archive. Fuck that noise...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • So much for that idiotic notion that Democrats are good and Republicans are bad...
    I do not see where the previous poster said anything in that vein in his/her post. You must really have a big (pro-Republican) axe to grind if you got that from the previous post.
    Gore lost. Bush won. Get over it.
    'nuff said...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • they mean Chiquita??! Everytime I see UCITA I think of bananas!
    Every time I hear the word Florida I think of bananas too [cartoonista.com]...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • If you are interested, you can find a copy of the letter [aufait.net] I sent to my representatives when it was under consideration in Maryland. It is not consise and it didn't change a single vote. However, it did earn me a call from AOL's lobbiest two days before the vote.

  • Texas has a Jeffersonian Legislature -- it only meets every second year to consider legislation. It's not in essentially permanent session like the US Congress.

    In any case, I'm writing my TX Rep and TX Senator with sound, reasonable reasons to oppose UNITA. My wife has a trip planned to the Legislature and I can easily tag along to visit my reps. Always better to have something to talk about. We'll see who they listen to.

  • My fellow Texans, please do a little research on Ucita, find out why you don't like it (yes I'm biased), and write to your state representatives, asking them to vote against this bill. You can find your House Representative here [state.tx.us] and your Senator here [state.tx.us].
  • Sorry, dude, but I suspect Congress actually would have a leg to stand on here.

    While it's usually used in an overbroad sense, I'd say that the Interstate Commerce Clause [usconstitution.net] would apply here, and legitimately, too!
  • I think the biggest problem is the implications for Free/GPL software, re: the shrink wrap/liability problems.. ESR, I believe, wrote a really good piece on this a little while ago? It was on slashdot like less than two weeks ago. Anybody got the link?

    The gist of it is that companies that *sell* shrink-wrapped software can escape from liability suits using shrink-wrap licenses, whereas open source software would somehow be liable, since there is no EULA/shrink wrap license... Moreover, there was an even further danger that somehow these suits would be applied retroactively so even existing software released under the GPL would suddenly become a target.

  • It's got far less to do with whether or not people are hicks (most elected officials are totally clueless about technology, even in "non-hick" states), and a lot more to do with whether or not the elected officials in question are used to kowtowing to big business interests. Texas is pretty bad about that, but then again, show me a state that isn't. (Florida maybe, but only because old people tend to vote in greater numbers; Fla. kowtows to the AARP instead of big business.)

    I don't think it's a conincidence that the first few states that have had the UCITA passed have big, established tech companies (not some Johnny-come-lately dot-coms) with powerful lobbies. There are probably some people behind the scenes who have planned out a strategy of first going after a few states with big tech lobbies such as VA and TX (in addition to Compaq and Dell, Texas also has lots of commercial software shops, including "id", as well as a bunch of telecom companies). Then, after they've gained some momentum, they'll quickly go after the big states like WA and CA. After that, the rest of the states will follow suit, because they don't want to get "left behind".

    It's sad, but I see little anyone can do about it. Big business rules this country with an iron fist. Whatever they want, they get.

  • I while back, I sent email to the EFF asking for help fighting the UCITA in Texas (I've known about this for a while). Here's the reply I got:

    You should be able to track down the author of the bill and the committee who is responsible for it on: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ [state.tx.us] I would write the author, the committee members, the governor and any news groups or interested parties who you can think of in Texas. More voices are important. There should be some support in the academic community. As far as legislators are concerned hard copy still means more to them than electronic. Good luck.

  • The article here asks for a list of companies supporting this. Top of the list is Microsoft. One of their stooges actually helped write this evil piece of crap. For this, if nothing else, they are damned. Check out the affect (formerly 4cite.org) website [4cite.org]
  • UCITA has also been introduced in the Maine and Arizona legislatures and is expected to be taken up soon in Florida.

    Lucky them! They won't know for months whether it passed!

  • I'm thankful that the NCCUSL folks (who wrote UCITA) are really pretty fucking stupid. The "remote self-help" clause is attracting negative attention like dead meat attracts flies. If they'd had any brains, they would have left it out. That wouldn't have made the law much better, but it would have made opposition more difficult.

    Really, it's a prefect issue for the opposition. "Do you want Microsoft to remotely disable Windows?" is a much easier question for Joe TechoPhobe [R-TX] to answer than some convoluted thing about enforcing shrink-wrap licenses.

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • Federal laws can't legitimately pre-empt state laws anyhow -- that's in direct contradiction to the 10th and 9th amendments

    Beyond the points about interstate commerce laws that have already been raised here, the UCITA essentially deals with intellectual property rights, and the power to deal with those have been relegated to Congress: From Section 8 of article 1 of the Constitution:

    The Congress shall have Power To... promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

  • ... and throw the brakes on the biggest economic boom we've had in years (powered by those tech companies, which will suffer because of the UCITA).

    Umm.... Have you taken a look at the stock market lately? Looks like the economic boom has had the brakes put on it already.. -- Sarcasm is a wonderful thing.
  • Appropriate quote:
    I just felt a great disturbance in the force, as if a million voices suddenly cried out, and were silenced.

    UCITA, Death Star of the consumer's software rights?

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
  • Find out where TI (they make dsp chips remember?) stands on this. Another industry veteren on OS' side would be otay!

    Can you imagine Ross Perot advocating open source? lol!
    "Me Ted"
  • know that this has been defeated in the past, but I have a feeling that many of the... how do I say this without flaming people... "hick" states will pass this.

    Hick states, such as Texas, which I sadly call home, will indeed be quick to pass such legislation. Why?

    Whereas the political system in the rest of the country operates on the principals of influence, Texas congressmen make the wages of paid volunteers. Only the rich and elite can afford to be a state representative in Texas. Even then, they depend on graft, 'favors', and kickbacks to make it all worth while.

    For example, our 'Railroad' commission has power to regulate the state's oil industry for the good of the citezens of Texas. Right?

    This attitude of favoritism means that the Railroad Commision is peopled entirely by chairmen and executives of the oil industry. How's that for fair legislation?
  • There are a couple of key players to write to in Texas. First, write to your state rep and senator. Write to the chairs of the committees that have the bill (see the links others have posted), letting them know that you have written to your rep/senator and vice versa. you should also contact the Governor and the State Attorney General. The AG in Texas is a sort of consumer ombudsman position, as well as the state's civil lawyer.

    I started lobbying my rep. last October. Since he is an electrical engineer and software developer, I thought that he might be a key player in the debate. From what he has told me, he was being consulted by other reps for his opinion. He is very, very concerned about UCITA and feels it is a bad law. So, write a polite letter expressing your opposition, don't flame the proponents, and if you have a business you might do it on letterhead in your business persona.

  • You purchase a software program, at a store or on the Internet, and begin to install. Almost immediately you are confronted with a dialog box saying you have to agree to a long, dense legal document in order to proceed. Having better things to do with your life, you don't bother reading it and instead just click "OK" to continue the installation. After you're done, you discover the product doesn't work for whatever reason. Too bad, the software publisher tells you, by clicking "OK" you signed away any rights you might have to return the product.

    In essence, this is what UCITA is all about. From the early days of personal computers, many packaged software products have come with "shrinkwrap" licenses - a set of terms written by the software publisher that usually disclaim all responsibility for delivering a functioning product other than perhaps warranting the delivery media be defect free for 30 days. As the purchaser is only able to read the license after the product is purchased and the package opened (hence the name shrinkwrap), the customer has theoretically given up all rights to demand a return or repair by the time he or she actually begins using the product.

    In practice, however, it's not been that simple. Courts have historically frowned on such "contracts of adhesion" - non-negotiable terms presented post sale. Instead, they have often chosen to disregard shrinkwrap licenses totally or in part and apply other legal principles from common law, copyright law or laws regarding the sale of goods to disputes involving software products. As a result, there is a great deal of uncertainty about just what laws do apply to software transactions. And with the emergence of e-commerce, open source software and business-to-business Internet transactions, the need for more certainty in the laws governing a variety of software-based transactions has become even more critical.

    What is now called UCITA was originally conceived for the entirely laudable purpose of clarifying the rules in this murky area of the law. UCITA is not federal law -- it is a proposed uniform law for each state to consider enacting. While the name has changed more than once (for many years it was known as Article 2B and was intended to become part of the Uniform Commercial Code), the project of drafting the law has been in the works for a decade under the auspices of the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), a body of 300-plus commissioners appointed by their respective states.
    More on UCITA [infoworld.com]

    Personally speaking, congress won't let this fly as its an unfair practice, and judging from this articles stance on a company not caring about any mistake you make when clicking something, its BS.

    For a company to not honor a request, complaint, etc would leave a sour taste in anyones mouth. Its more (UCITA) than just an agreement between vendor and client, and it certainly won't deter reverse engineering or piracy. One thing people STILL seem to miss in these articles is, the WORLD DOES NOT revolve around U.S. laws.
  • Its the only way to get your point across.

    That, or convince the people that UCITA will hurt the NRA.

  • If someone could convince Bush that laws like these are actually hurting corporations, instead of helping it, you might find support from an unlikely source. It couldn't hurt to send of letters to him too. He might be concerned if his home state could be threatened (although he should be equally concerned about the country as a whole)
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @09:26PM (#373293) Homepage
    The UCITA is completely insane, not because of some of its claim, but because it's binding without any of the elements of a contract.

    If you want to spell out a contract where I'm not allowed to tell others about some thing, that's fine. It's called an NDA. You have to precisely spell out what I can't tell people, I look at it, decide if I like it, and agree to it because you offer me something in return.

    The UCITA doesn't require the customer to be able to see the contract for it to be binding. It allows clauses like retroactive changes (with the onus of checking for this on the customer). It allows companies to sell products that are completely different from what was advertised and sue anyone who publicises this fact.

    Any of these decisions, on their own, in an informed scenario, would be okay. I occasionally buy 'as is' merchandise that isn't guaranteed to work. That's fine because this merchandise is required to be marked 'as is'. It's not enough that they say "well, it should have been obvious because of ... ". I'd even perhaps pay for beta software if it solved a problem I'd been having. And maybe sign an NDA agreeing not to slam the product for bugs because it's still a beta. That's fine, I'd go into it knowing what I was contracting not to say and what the limits were (till out of beta.)

    It's only when you pass a law that makes shrinkwrap licenses, which can state any and all of this, binding that you screw the consumers.

    The UCITA even allows companies to remotely disable your software if they think that you've violated the license. The incredibly broad license that could theoretically prevent make it a violation if you told your neighbor that you thought one product was better than another. And they can disclaim all responsibility for damages that this may cause. If you take any measures to prevent this (even a firewall) you could very well be tried under the DMCA for disabling an access control mechanism.

    No other industry allows blanket disclaimers to be binding. If you sign a disclaimer at a hospital and they perform a sex change instead of an apendectomy you can sue them, regardless of any disclaimer you may have signed absolving them of responsibility.

    If you buy a car, you can return it if it's a lemon, regardless of you having bought it. If you take that car to an independant dealer for a tune-up, they can't cancel your warranty. Ditto if you buy user servicable parts (spark plugs) to replace the ones the product came with. Ford can't cancel your warranty or sue you because you used GM-approved tires.

    If you buy a TV the company can't dictate what you can play on it.

    In no other industries do we allow laws that so blatantly screw the consumer.

    We shouldn't accept the software companies line about how software is a new paradigm, etc. etc. We should hold them to the same rules as any other business in any other industry.

    Do you honestly think that companies should be allowed to do any of that?
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @02:08PM (#373294) Homepage Journal

    UCITA is not about improving the business climate by passing uniform laws. It is tailored for the benefit of and sponsored by a minority of companies within a single industry (a few big software companies). Leaving consumers aside completely, it should be pretty clear that companies outside this exclusive fraternity do not stand to benefit from this law. Indeed the measure is designed to establish new privileges for its sponsors at the expense of everyone else -- consumers, government and business at large

    So, when you talk to you your rep, rather than berating them for being a rednecked toadies to business interests, maybe you should put on your suit and be very concerned about the negative affect on the TX business climate, and in particular the power it will give large out of state companies over TX.

  • Given that the majority of the congresscritters in the Lege are devoted to one thing and one thing only (namely "fostering a healthy biddness climate"), it's almost certain to pass in Texas[1]. This state has a long history of passing pretty much anything a business lobbyist asks for. If you need an example of this consider the grandfathering of pollution emitting plants that lead to things like the Alcoa smelter in Rockdale (one of the largest sources of airborne pollutants in texas and possibly the west becuase it has no pollution controls and burns lignite[2] at a prodigious rate; a few years back there was a ruckus over this and "something must be done!" so a "Strong Resolution" was passed that basically told the grandfathered plants they should clean up and if they didn't then the State would send them to their rooms without dessert. :-( It's easy to get real mad if you're a texas liberal.).

    [1] the Lege and executive offices are all dominated by Republicans now, and even if it were the other way the Democrats here are usually so conservative they'd be Republicans anywhere else...

    [2]lignite is a "soft" coal that's very common. Its main virtue is that it is cheap (easy to mine becuase it's close to the surface, and common). Its disadvantages are: it is close to the surface so usually it's strip mined, which has long-term negative effects on the local environment; and it is very high in sulfur content, the burning of which leads to SOx in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas IIRC and also leads to the formation of acidic rainfall. The Rockdale smelter burns millions of tons of this crap every year.

    News for geeks in Austin: www.geekaustin.org [geekaustin.org]
  • Sorry to distract y'all from the running debate about Michael, but lemme see if I can help answer the original question -- what corporations are in favor of UCITA.

    When UCITA came to my home state, Maryland, I was informed by several consumer/library advocates that lobbyists from Microsoft and AOL were in attendence and vocally in favor of UCITA.

    Here is some pro-UCITA propaganda its proponents have put up:

    The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA)'s [siia.net] UCITA brief; and here [siia.net] are the SIIA's members.

    And my all-time favorite, the Business Software Alliance's Why Software Professionals Should Support [UCITA] (And What Will Happen If They Don't [bsa.org].

    The BSA consists of Adobe, Apple, Compaq, Dell, IBM, Intel ... and, of course, Microsoft. Here is a list [bsa.org] of member companies.

    Additionally, if you want a good "Who's-Who" on UCITA, check out the comments [ftc.gov] filed at the Federal Trade Commission's recent conference on High-Tech Warranties.

    If you're interested, here is a site [cptech.org] I threw up concerning UCITA and EULAs. I wrote a letter [cptech.org] to Maryland governor Glendening opposing UCITA, and here's the nebulous reply [cptech.org] I got back.


    Vergil Bushnell

  • by mikeboone ( 163222 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:26PM (#373297) Homepage Journal

    From InfoWorld's Gripe Line [infoworld.com] a couple weeks ago:

    "Texas figures to be an extremely interesting battleground. Signatories of an open letter to the Texas legislature requesting that UCITA not be introduced in the state this year included Boeing, Conoco, Dow Chemical, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed, and Phillips Petroleum. With that kind of opposing lineup, particularly one featuring the petroleum industry, you might think UCITA would have no chance in Texas. But it was introduced anyway.
    A pro-UCITA letter signed by Compaq, Dell, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments gives you some idea of how the battle lines are drawn."

    So it's basically software companies (and the hardware companies that are co-dependent) vs. the rest of the corporate world.

  • Are you kidding? UCITA rapes consumers of their rights. How? Read this [badsoftware.com].

    Besides, plenty of people already know that proprietary software sucks - but they still use it anyway. Open Source software and OSs are just not appealing enough to the everyday casual user, whether they be corporate or private, for people to make the switch. And because of this, UCITA will pass and consumers will be fucked. Some will make the switch to non-UCITA, Open Source software but the vast will not. Unfortunately, they will pay the ultimate price. What is even more unfair is that they will pay this price because they may not be tech savvy enough to make an informed choice for software. Consumer rights with respect to software should not be available only to the savvy users (or those savvy in legalise, who can understand many of the cryptic license agreements).

    We've already seen how the RIAA and MPAA have twisted and perverted the DMCA. It should be expected that the companies supporting UCITA will do the same.

    Full disclosure: I stole the link from this guy's post [slashdot.org] but it's an excellent article that should show up several times for this story.


  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:25PM (#373299)
    As a Texan, I can very firmly say that I heartily disagree with the provisions in the UCITA. I can't help but wonder, though, with the sheer level of "Good ol' Boy" style corruption evident in our grand state, if this will not be forced through sooner or later because someone's kids got a scholarship at UT, or something. This sort of thing goes on all the time... If it does go through and becomes widley accepted, I wonder if companies who are in a situation that would make it hard for them to tolerate the provisions of the bill would start using and supporting Open Source projects, which are by definition immune to the idiocies found within the UCITA. Think about it. If Bell Helicopter, which produces the (in)famous 'tiltroter' helicopter were to suddenly lose its ability to operate because of a license dispute, wouldn't they be a hell of a lot more likely to use Open Source software rather than Closed Source software from the likes of M$ and Compaq? I wonder...
  • by alewando ( 854 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:03PM (#373300)
    If you're still not sure why you should oppose the UCITA, Cem Kaner has a good essay [badsoftware.com] you should read. This is not just another bad law. This is the bad law of the decade, which could cripple consumer choice in the software industry and throw the brakes on the biggest economic boom we've had in years (powered by those tech companies, which will suffer because of the UCITA).

    Write your congressperson and get some Federal legislation to preempt the UCITA. And more importantly, write your own state representative, because the only way to defeat will probably be on a state-by-state basis.
  • by aufait ( 45237 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:56PM (#373301) Homepage
    Supporters of UCITA always point to the "Right of Return" clause saying that it gives greater protection to the consumers than they currently have.

    Last year, Maryland passed UCITA which went into effect in October. I noticed that all the major software retailers (Best Buy, Staples, Office Max, etc.) still have signs saying that there is no returns allowed on opened software. Has anyone in Maryland or Virginia tried to return software because they disagreed with the license? What were your experiences?

  • by Herger ( 48454 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:18PM (#373302) Homepage
    Why would Compaq support UCITA? Don't they owe their existence to reverse engineering?

    (Compaq built the first IBM PC clone by reverse engineering the IBM BIOS)
  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:13PM (#373303) Homepage
    Call and show up at their office!

    Maybe tell them that they violated their license agreement and you are there to remove the software from their computer. After blood returns to their face explain that this situation is not far fetched....except that they can do it over the internet the weekend before the next election. No due process, no notice.

  • by edwardames ( 157809 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @03:23PM (#373304)
    UCITA has been filed in the Texas House of Representatives as HB 1785 [state.tx.us], authored by Rep. Sylvester Turner [state.tx.us], representing District 139 in Harris County.

    UCITA has been introduced in the Texas Senate as SB 709 [state.tx.us] by Sen John Carona [state.tx.us], a Republican representing District 16 in Dallas.

    HB 1785 has been referred to the House Business and Industry Committee [state.tx.us]but is not yet scheduled [state.tx.us] for a hearing. Likewise, SB 709 has been referred to the Senate Business and Commerce Committee [state.tx.us] but has yet to be scheduled [state.tx.us] for a hearing. These committees will be holding hearings on the bills before the bills will go on to their respective houses for floor votes.

    If you live in Texas, look up the email address of the Senator and Representative for whom you are a constituent at this page here [state.tx.us].

    If UCITA interests you, send them a short and concise email telling them about UCITA and how they should vote on it, and why they should vote that way. Be polite. Texas legislators are usually very receptive to communications from their constituents.

    Expect that most legislators will not be familiar with the issues involved with UCITA, and that what education they are getting on it is probably coming from lobbyists. So help inform them.

    The current legislative session will be ending in May, so if UCITA can't get passed out of committee and then passed in both houses, the software lobby will have to wait until 2003 for the next session of the legislature.

    Hope this helps.


  • by PD ( 9577 ) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:23PM (#373305) Homepage Journal
    Why is this legislation so terrible? Companies need to examine their legal obligations to determine their risk. If the risk of having your software stop working is too great a risk, then don't take it. Find alternatives.

    Slews of Microsoft shops will suddenly see the reason why proprietary software sucks.

    Moderators: if you think this is a troll, you're on crack. I'm serious about this.
  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Friday March 09, 2001 @01:55PM (#373306) Homepage

    As previously mentioned, the UTICA regulations are perhaps the worst thing ever to come out of a committee. Period.

    what everyone seems to foget is the Achille's Heel of the proposals: Only Large Software Companies Benefit. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, else is hurt.

    Look at some of the opposition groups/members:

    • Boeing Aircraft and General Motors - two of the biggest companies in the world.
    • The entire small-to-medium-size software company industry
    • The Small Business Administration
    • The American Law Association (particularly, contract lawyers)
    • Most known Consumer Groups
    • The San Francisco Cronicle, New York Times, Boston Globe, and the entire Newspaper Publisher's Assoication of America. In addition, virtually the entire computer/technology press has voiced strong objections.

    While most people (including the representatives) seem to assume that Business(tm) is all for UTICA, this is simply NOT TRUE. And therein lies the way to effectively fight it:

    1. Get the text and the Bill number that lays out UTICA in your local Legislature.
    2. Take it to your company's Legal team, and explain to them why this is such a horrible thing. Use all the arguments from the various anti-UTICA sites around (I'm not going to post them here, because others have). Unless your company has deaf, dumb, and blind lawyers (and let's be honest, most corporate lawyers aren't stupid), they'll look at the Bill, listen to your arguments, and turn deathly pale as they realize what it will do to the company.
    3. Get your company to write a strong letter of disapproval to the Legislature. Get a copy.
    4. Take the Copy of your company's letter, and go to a couple of other companies you deal with, or even just patronize, and that use computers to run the company (and which company doesn't these days). Ask to talk to a manager. If you can, talk to someone senior. Explain the whole thing, and show them the letter from your company.
    5. Get other companies to either sign on to the letter of disapproval from your company, or write their own. Get them sent.
    6. Compile a list of the companies you get to disapprove.
    7. Repeatedly call and write your Legeslative rep with the full details of why UTICA is bad, the general opposition, then include all the local companies you know of that have signed off on hating the bill.

    If you can get something like this reasonably organized, when your rep gets 2 dozen angry letters from companies of all sizes and industries in his district, he's going to be reallllly cautious about the Bill, and that's what you want - serious debate, not a rubber-stamp. Because, in a serious debate, UTICA will lose. There are too many opposition members. UTICA's only hope is to ram it through (or sneak it in) before the opposition can organize. Don't Let That Happen.

    -Erik, who is busily practicing what I preach here in Silicon Valley.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.