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IT-DISCUSS  November 2000

IT-DISCUSS November 2000

Subject:

Infoworld Article: A world with UCITA...

From:

Geoffrey Duke <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Departmental Technology Coordinators <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 29 Nov 2000 09:30:43 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (123 lines)

Amusing, but frightening. We think License Agreements are onerous
now. Just wait.

--Geoff

---------------------------------------------------------------------

InfoWorld (http://www.infoworld.com)
Article
http://www.infoworld.com/articles/op/xml/00/11/27/001127opfoster.xml

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Column Friday, Nov. 24, 2000 1:01 pm PT

The Gripe Line | Ed Foster

A world with UCITA may allow fine print to outweigh the right thing

THE CONVERSATION WE'RE about to hear could be occurring right now in
real life, except we're going to imagine that a certain law relating
to software transactions is already well-established throughout the
country.

Agent: Good day, Firebridge Tires customer service. This is John. How
can I help you today?

Caller: John, I recently bought a new SUV equipped with your tires.
Now I'm seeing on the Internet that people are having accidents
because of problems with these tires, so naturally I'm a bit concerned
about this.

Agent: Sir, Firebridge Tires is aware of those reports. I want to
assure you we are investigating, and when we identify the people
responsible for those reports, we will prosecute them to the fullest
extent of the law.

Caller: Prosecute them? No, you don't understand -- experts are saying
that your tires can blow out for no reason. I'm calling because I
assumed there might be some sort of recall.

Agent: There's no recall, sir. Under the license by which Firebridge
grants you the right to operate with our tires on your vehicle, you
agree to a standard nondisclosure clause. It's stated very clearly in
our license that any public criticism of our product's performance is
prohibited. This type of clause is a very common term used in software
licenses for years and is authorized by UCITA -- the Uniform Computer
Information Transactions Act.

Caller: License? Software? I'm talking about tires here, not computer
software.

Agent: It's possible you failed to notice our license, sir. It's
printed very conspicuously on the inside tire wall of each unit, and
you should have little trouble reading it with a standard magnifying
glass. Sir, our tires are very high-tech, and they contain a great
deal of Firebridge's intellectual property over which we must retain
control. So they are not sold to you as goods. What you purchased with
your SUV was the limited right to use four copies of our product. Of
course, your vehicle is also a very high-tech product, sir -- in fact,
it meets UCITA's definition of a computer. Our tires are therefore an
integral part of a computer information system, and we can choose to
have them covered by a license under UCITA.

Caller: I don't care about this legal mumbo jumbo. These tires are
faulty, and I want to return them. What if I get killed because one of
them blows out on me? Does Firebridge want to be responsible for that?

Agent: Firebridge always puts the welfare of its customers first.
Should your estate prove in an arbitration hearing that you were
killed due to a flaw in our product, we would happily refund the price
of the defective tire.

Caller: Come on, you can't do that. Even with software I have to be
given the chance to read the license and to return the product if I
disagree with the terms.

Agent: Yes, sir, but only if you haven't first manifested your assent
to our license by driving the car anywhere. If you'll check the
documentation that came in your SUV's glove compartment, you'll see
you were notified of your responsibility to read the license terms for
all components of the car before driving it off the lot.

Caller: If you won't take the tires back, I guess I'll just have to go
back to the dealer.

Agent: Sir, neither the OEM in Detroit nor the dealer is responsible
for your legal and binding agreement with us. If you check, I think
you'll find you have similar license agreements with them that are
also covered by UCITA. If you would read all your licenses first, sir,
you'll see they cancel any other warranties that may have been
expressed to you.

Caller: This is insane. You can point at this crazy law all you want,
but there are other laws in this country, and some of them protect
consumers from this kind of nonsense.

Agent: Of course, Firebridge respects all applicable consumer
protection laws. But most such laws apply to sales of goods, and as
I've explained this is not a sale but a license. Also, I should point
out that if you use this vehicle to go to work, you are using our
product for business purposes and this is therefore not a consumer
transaction under UCITA.

Caller: I don't believe this. There is absolutely nothing that's
high-tech or even electronic about a tire. This UCITA thing can't
possibly apply.

Agent: Actually, sir, our tires do contain a very sophisticated
electronic device -- our Electronic Self-Help Deflator. We're very
proud of it. Should the ESHD detect any violation of our license
through your use of our product, such as having the tires rotated by a
repair shop not authorized by Firebridge, it automatically sets the
valve in deflate mode. It's entirely for your protection, of course --
you wouldn't want to be driving around in noncompliance, now would
you? Thank you for calling Firebridge customer service. It's been a
pleasure to serve you.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright (c) 2000 InfoWorld Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole Or in part in Any form Or medium without express
written permission of InfoWorld Is prohibited.

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