UCITA Working Group
Committee Report

The charge to the working group is:

How would UCITA affect interlibrary loan/document delivery amongst us?    This working group will develop information that could be used by individuals to demonstrate how UCITA will affect interlibrary loan service to our patrons. This information could be used to share with state legislators and others to understand the impact of UCITA.

The members of the working group are:

Rick Uttich;(chair)
Margaret Ellingson
Nada Vaughn
Charlotte Dugan
Emaly Conerly*
Russell Palmer
Mary Wilke
Kay Vyhnanek*
Cindy Kristof
Tom Delaney*

A number of possible approaches were proposed, including setting up a web site for ILL issues relating to UCITA. The group agreed finally that there were excellent web sites, including ALA, ARL and AFFECT that were sufficient for keeping abreast of developments in UCITA. The working group focused on producing a periodic notice to be posted to the ILL list.

It was agreed that the notice should begin with a brief description of what UCITA is and why it is an important issue for us to monitor. We wanted, up front, links to the AFFECT site for monitoring developments in any particular state, to the ALA site for its overall coverage and ALA’s position, and to the ARL site’s document on "Summary and Implications for Libraries and Higher Education." We also wanted to include a request that ILL personnel monitor developments in their states and to post any significant activity to the ILL list. The posting, sent out quarterly to coincide with annual and midwinter and two interim postings, should prompt participation in monitoring UCITA developments, keep up an awareness level, and prepare people for discussion at ALA and for any workshops, teleconferences, etc. that may occur.

The notice also summarizes various aspects of UCITA that could be detrimental for ILL activities. These include references to licensing and contract law, fair use, first sale doctrine and copyright.

The document contains excerpts from the three most important web sites on these issues and includes hyperlinks to the source documents.

The document concludes with a listing of various web resources for monitoring UCITA developments state by state, sample letters to legislators, a factsheet for educating colleagues and legislators about how UCITA would be detrimental for library services and library users.

A copy of the notice follows:

The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) is a proposed state contract law designed to standardize the law regarding the licensing of software and all other forms of digital information. UCITA is a complex law that will adversely affect libraries, individual consumers, business, industry, schools and universities --anyone using software or any kind of digital information. (

The (ALA/RUSA/MOUSS) Interlibrary Loan Committee recommends that all members of this list follow developments regarding the introduction and/or progress of UCITA in their states. Please use the links below to familiarize yourselves with the issues surrounding UCITA and with the actions proposed to represent the interests of libraries and library users to your legislatures. We encourage all to post to the ILL-L list any developments regarding UCITA that you become aware of in your state.

For States with active UCITA legislation introduced and links to information about the legislation that has been introduced, see the final paragraph on this link:

"Summary and Implications for Libraries and Higher Education" statement on UCITA from ARL

ALA Washington Office's UCITA web site:

UCITA replaces the public law of copyright with the private law of contract. Under the public law of copyright, a vendor who sells copies of information such as books or software has only limited power to control their subsequent use. UCITA would facilitate the restrictive "licensing" of information distributed to the general public. Rather than owning a copy, you will be granted permission to use the copy within limits dictated by the "license." A license agreement for a piece of software, for instance, may carry with it restrictions; that you may be unable to read in advance or negotiate; that governs everything from how the software is to be used to whether you are allowed to publicly criticize the product. The public law of copyright comes with certain privileges such as fair use; the private law of contract does not. (

Because information products are licensed and leased from vendors, rather than purchased and owned by libraries, copyright law's "first sale doctrine" does not apply. This means that libraries can no longer assume that they can legally loan software or cd-roms to library users. License provisions could eliminate the right of libraries to lend products, donate library materials, or resell unwanted materials in the annual library book sale. (

License provisions may restrict traditional "fair use" of a product by defining what rights buyers have in relation to an information product. For example, license provisions could exclude the right to quote from a work, or make a small portion of the work for personal use, or to use the product in a non-profit, educational setting. (

The kinds of library services now permissible under law—like inter-library loan, distance learning programs, archiving and preservation—will be threatened.(

There is a one page UCITA fact sheet designed as a handout for legislators, librarians and others at:

If you become aware that UCITA is being proposed or even considered in your state legislature, please let ALA's Washington Office know by contacting Carol Ashworth, UCITA Grassroots Coordinator, or Miriam Nisbet, Legislative Counsel, at 1-800-941-8478/202-628-8410 or at or

Additional resources include:

AFFECT, Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions A broad-based national coalition of industry leaders, libraries and consumer organizations dedicated to educating the public and policy makers about the dangers of UCITA (

Look up the status of UCITA for your state here:

Read what others have said and the ALA resolution on UCITA:

A sample letter to send to your State legislators can be found at:

The ARL web site on UCITA:

ALA's list of additional Web Resources on UCITA: