Virginia: Adopts E-commerce Guidelines : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Virginia adopts e-commerce guidelines

Copyright ) 2000 Nando Media

Copyright ) 2000 Associated Press


FAIRFAX, Va. (March 15, 2000 1:55 p.m. EST - Gov. Jim Gilmore has signed legislation creating a new code governing software purchases over the Internet and other online transactions, making Virginia the first state to embrace the proposal opposed by consumer groups, writers and librarians.

Steve Case, chairman of America Online Inc., and technology industry leaders gathered Tuesday to congratulate Gilmore and to urge other states to follow.

"We hope the other 49 states will look at this and learn from this and embrace it," Case said.

The Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act, which is being considered by state legislatures through the nation, creates a legal framework for transactions involving digitized information as well as Internet-related commerce. Backers include Microsoft, AOL and other technology companies.

Gilmore said the law, which will go into effect next year, will "make it easier for consumers and industries to conduct transactions via the Internet."

But critics including the Federal Trade Commission, Consumers Union, the American Library Association and the National Writers Union say the law being pushed in state legislatures across the country benefits software and information companies at the expense of consumers.

The American Library Association says the legislation would rewrite copyright law to benefit electronic publishing interests at the expense of library users, educators and others who want to copy or use written materials. The school child who wants to copy something for a class project might be told "tough luck," an attorney for the group said.

"Your taxpayer money has gone to purchasing these products for the library, yet your child is not able to utilize them," said Miriam Nisbet, legislative counsel for the group.

Gail Hillebrand, senior attorney for the Consumers Union, said the legislation "provides a lot of certainty for software manufacturers but not for consumers."

She pointed to various problems. For one, the obligation that software loaded into a computer be compatible with the computer would be eliminated. Software makers also could include "back doors" in their programs that would allow them to disable a user's software.

Supporters of the act said critics will have a year to press their complaints. Gilmore said he planned to form a commission to review changes before the legislation goes into effect next year.

That means Virginia could become a battleground for foes and supporters of the act who hope to kill or promote the legislation in other states.

"It's never going to be perfect, but it's a balanced start," said Douglas Koelemay, spokesman for the Northern Virginia Technology Council.,1643,500180879-500238721-501184235-0,00.html

-- Jen Bunker (, March 15, 2000

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