supposed to do [was] go to court, and you [were] supposed to have judicial intervention, and that was how you protected your rights," said Dreyfuss. She also pointed out

that having such self-destructing software might cause other problems. "Thats kind of problematic because, while its destroying itself, it might also destroy other data. It might destroy the things that you did with the computer program, like the word-processing files or the spreadsheets."

McCabe is quick to point out that there is nothing preventing software publishers from enacting self-help measures today. "If youre not under UCITA and youre not under some specific statutory regime that limits self-help, what is to prevent self help?" he asked. And under UCITA,

self-help provisions must be separately agreed to and strict notification procedures must be followed.

That is not enough to stem the rising tide of criticism, though.

Defining the Gray Area

"UCITA takes computer information outside the scope of very important state and federal consumer protection laws," Bushnell said. "[Lobbyists have been] able to sell their pro-UCITA views to the legislators based on the illusionary promise, If youre the state that first passes UCITA, there will be some sort of connection with e-commerce firms like ours moving into your state." Bushnell said he doubted that such a connection exists.

Dreyfuss agreed that legislation is necessary to eliminate the gray area of shrink-wrap licensing, but she said she didnt think UCITA fits the bill. "I think legislation is absolutely necessary. The question is, what are the licensors going to be allowed to do? [Shrink-wrap licenses] might impose huge costs on the people who buy it, totally out of proportion to the benefit that theyre giving to the seller."

Tod Newcombe  |  Features Editor