Va. governor signs UCITA legislation into law

Fairfax, Va. — Flanked by the chairman of one of the state's largest businesses — America Online Inc.'s Steve Case — Virginia Gov. James Gilmore today signed the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) into law.

But the bill won't take effect until July 2001, giving people and businesses with concerns about UCITA time to seek legislative amendments, the governor said.

"We're not deaf to people's concerns," said Gilmore. Still, Gilmore said he doesn't believe those concerns were "legitimate impediments" to the state's adoption of the legislation.

The year-delay for adoption came at the behest of a coalition of some of the state's largest nontechnology companies, who believe UCITA gives software vendors the upper hand in software licensing (see story).

"If there's any sense that things may not be quite right, there is plenty of time for people to come in under Virginia's approach and have a chance to do some amendments," said Gilmore. The state plans to create a study committee to examine the issues raised by the business coalition that sought to delay the law's implementation.

UCITA sets a series of default rules governing commercial software transactions. One of its most controversial provisions would allow a software vendor to automatically disable software in a contract dispute.

Case praised Virginia's action and said he hoped "other states will look at this and learn from this and embrace it."

Virginia is moving quickly on UCITA to help create an attractive climate for its technology businesses. For UCITA to become the law of the land, technically it must be adopted by 50 states. But companies may nonetheless cite UCITA in their license agreements. "If Virginia remains the only state that adopts this, then I believe that the certainty of our (actions) would attract additional businesses into the commonwealth," said Gilmore.

Maryland is also actively considering the legislation.

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