|From: "John Sumsion"
Date: Thu, Aug 17, 2000 6:04 PM
Subject: High-Tech Warranty Project - Comment, P994413
To whom it may concern,
1. I develop software for a living. I strive to do so in a responsible way to society as a whole. The proposal of Uniform Computer Information Tranactions Act (UCITA) has me worried.
2. UCITA holds individuals liable for software flaws (Erickson 8). This is irresponsible action on the part of any company who employs computer programmers. Inadvertant software errors are made all the time, especially when programmers are under extreme time constraints imposed by the company they work for. To have the same company be able to turn around and sue the programmer for any software fault is absolutely irresponsible.
3. UCITA lets publishers unilaterally outlaw reverse engineering (Erickson 8). That means that it becomes a criminal offense for me to try to find a bug in software running on my computer. It also means that I cannot attempt to make a program interoperable with other companies' software if they do not actually disclose file formats. Reverse engineering computer code is a long-accepted engineering principle.
4. UCITA lets vendors prohibit transfer of software ownership so that you can't sell or give a package to someone else (Erickson 8). This is very harmful to consumers who have no need for software any more. Why should it be illegal to give a software license to someone else, or to sell it for a nominal sum? Just because some large corporations want more software revenue doesn't justify signing a ridiculous bill into law that artificially restricts rights I have had and used very reasonably (and harmlessly) in the past.
5. UCITA lets vendors repossess software by remotely disabling it (Erickson 8). Why make this behaviour legal? This could be used anti-competitively to disable companies' systems. What effective measure could prevent the unlawful and purposeful use of this feature? The amount of damage that can be done in today's fast-paced economy is enormous with no corresponding fast-paced enforcement capability.
6. Many respected and long-lived organizations oppose UCITA (Erickson 8), including the ACM, IEEE, American Library Association, American Society of Media Photographers, Association of Research Libraries, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Project on Technology, Consumers Union, Independent Computer Consultants Association, Free Software Foundation, Software Engineering Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a majority of the state attorney generals.
7. Against the voice of so many responsibile people, constituents within your own jurisdiction, and across the nation, could you even think about passing this bill? I hope that you consider this an affront to society's ability to help move computer technology forward in a mutually beneficial way.
8. I know that under the environment that would be created by UCITA as law, I would seek other employment, very fast. If there is a shortage of technology workers now, think what would happen if you gave people a reason to reject a technology career from the first.