THE UCITA in Commercial Transactions and International Law

Abstract

            The UCITA has become the most effective step towards better regulation of commercial transactions involving information. The UCITA governs all types of information intangibles, including texts, images, etc. The UCITA reflects the need to address the issues and legal inconsistencies in the area of contemporary technological advancement.

Commercial Transactions and International Law

            Introduction

            At the age of computer technologies, software legislation becomes particularly important. In 1999, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws finally adopted the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) to govern trade and contract relations in the area of information technologies.

            The UCITA has actually become a modernized form of the Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). However, the UCC was not the first law that provided and guaranteed uniformity of commercial relations in the U.S. The United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) has been the first source of uniform commercial norms in the American system of legislation. “Clause 1: the Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States” (The United States Constitution, 1731). Since that time, the U.S. has been modernizing its commercial acts, and has adopted new legislative strategies that would fit to the changing technological demands. Technology and software have created a challenge which has been addressed through the UCC and later, the UCITA.

            The major difference between the Article 2 of the UCC and the UCITA is in that the latter addresses the legal issues of licensing (not selling) information (not goods). The definitions for both “licensing” and “information” are absent in the UCC. The UCC governs the sales and leasing of goods: “’goods’ means all things that are movable at the time of identification […] but the term does not include money, documents, […] general intangibles” (The UCC, 2004). In distinction from the UCC, the UCITA refers to the legal issues of using and licensing information in the variety of its forms, including software. The UCITA governs all possible informational intangibles, including “data, text, images, sounds, mask works, or computer programs, including collections and compilations of them” (The UCITA, 1999). The UCITA exercises a completely new language of “computer transactions” – the language that has been unknown to the general public before.

            The Article 2-106 (1) refers to sale as “the passing of title from the seller to the buyer for a price” (The UCC, 2004). Being intangible, information required a different definition of sales; furthermore, it required considering the applicability of the term “sale” to information. As a result of such thorough reconsideration, the term “sale” in the UCITA was replaced by the term “license”. License means “a contract that authorizes access to, or use, distribution, performance, modification, or reproduction of, information or informational rights” (The UCITA, 1999). That means that information in general is not subject to sale; the owner can only grant licensee with certain rights governed by the UCITA.

            The UCITA was planned as a new form of the Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, but has turned into a separate legislative document. The reason is in that the rapid development of information technologies requires designing and implementing a totally new approach towards commercial transactions. Information is extremely peculiar and cannot be governed by other traditional laws. Information and licensing generate serious and complex issues that cannot be resolved with the help of other commercial acts. I think that the creation and adoption of the UCITA has become an acute response to the growing need to control and regulate various types of transactions in the information technologies domain. Ultimately, the UCITA has successfully filled the legal gaps within the UCC legal contents. I am confident that the UCITA is the first step towards creating a separate uniform system of laws and regulations that will govern all aspects of intangible commercial transactions within the area of the newest information solutions.

Conclusion

            The UCITA has become the most recent and the most accurate approach towards governing commercial relations in the area of information technologies. The rapid development of numerous technological solutions will further promote the need to address legal issues that relate to all types of transactions involving information.

References

The United States Constitution. (1731). U.S. Constitution Online. Retrieved July 4, 2008

from http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

UCC. (2004). Uniform Commercial Code. Retrieved July 4, 2008 from

http://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/

UCITA. (1999). Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act. Retrieved July 4, 2008

from http://www.law.upenn.edu/bll/archives/ulc/ucita/ucita200.htm