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What is UCITA, and how does it affect copyright laws?

UCITA stands for Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act. It is a proposed state law, introduced by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law (NCCUSL). This law, if enacted, would govern the sales, transfer, gifts, and other transactions of computer information.

Libraries have contended that UCITA favors the making of contracts and licenses that would prohibit fair use of computer information. The group Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions (AFFECT), of which ALA and other library associations are founding members, had proposed several amendments to UCITA, addressing fair use and other issues. The recommended amendments in the UCITA Standby Committee Report cited concerns of the library population, but stated that exemptions for libraries from contractual agreements concerning electronically presented information were not recommended, and that the changes proposed would be inappropriate in state law. ALA and AFFECT's response to this report can be found at http://www.ala.org/washoff/ucita/resources.html.

The American Bar Association has recently recommended that UCITA undergo a redraft so that it could be more easily understood. The ABA's report is at http://www.abanet.org/leadership/ucita.pdf.

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