As the new year approaches with its agenda of contracts to award, renew and renegotiate, we warn our readers to beware of the Maryland minefield.
We refer to the burgeoning practice of inserting clauses in IT contracts that call for disputes to be governed by Maryland law. Maryland is one of two states (the other is Virginia) where the law of the land includes a version of UCITA, the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act. Some might call this the software vendors bill of rights, but we think its more about highhanded privilege than “rights.”
UCITA makes shrink-wrap licenses enforceable, strengthens vendor control over publication of benchmarks and limits buyers claims for damages. Its a sweeping set of rules that we dont believe are suited to the needs of enterprise buyers, for whom we believe a software contract deserves the same custom tailoring as any other major infrastructure buy. UCITA provisions, whether invoked by the location of a transaction or incorporated by reference into a contract, can be voided by the custom contract terms that we believe each enterprise buyer should propose.
The Consumers Union opposes UCITA. The attorneys general of more than 20 states oppose UCITA. Major buyers and users of IT oppose UCITA. We believe UCITA offers a one-sided view of fairness in the IT marketplace, and we urge eWeek readers to examine their IT contracts from all sides—especially their own—before letting UCITA become the law that they must live by.