"You accept the terms of this agreement." In the eyes of a software vendor, the simple act of removing the plastic shrink-wrap from a software package is tantamount to signing a contract with the manufacturer that severely limits consumer rights. If buyers would read those licenses carefully, they might have second thoughts. That is, if they could. Most of the time the contract is buried in the box.
Until recently, though, things looked like they were about to get markedly worse for software buyers. The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) was crafted as the first attempt to standardize nationally the commercial licensing of software and other information products. If all had gone according to plan, UCITA would ultimately have been adopted by every state legislature. But the proposed law contained provisions that critics perceived could have been imagined by George Orwell.
This article was originally published with the title Shrink-Wrapping the World.