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The Chronicle of Higher Education: New Software-Licensing Legislation Said to Imperil Academic Freedom

Aug 16, 2000, 11:57 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andrea L. Foster)


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"Imagine that an architecture professor distributes to his distance-education students digitized photographs of the palace at Versailles, warns the students about the images' poor quality -- and then gets hit with a lawsuit from the software company that provided the pictures. The company accuses the professor of violating the terms of the license agreement, which prohibits customers from publicly criticizing the product. A judge rules in favor of the company, citing UCITA, a new law that makes ubiquitous software-licensing agreements readily enforceable."

"Those contract provisions also have the effect of curtailing interlibrary loans and archival preservation, critics say. For example, an academic medical library refused to lend the European Journal of Surgical Oncology to another library because it said the journal's license agreement did not allow interlibrary loans."

"'When Microsoft rattles the saber, people toe the line,' says Jonathan Band, a Washington lawyer who advises UCITA foes. 'Imagine how much more effective that saber rattling is once UCITA is in place.'"

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