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US Copyright Office Considering MSIE-only website 491

Posted by Hemos
from the well-duh dept.
wikinerd writes "The United States Copyright Office asks whether you would have any problem if you were required to use Microsoft Internet Explorer in order to pre-register a work via their website. The Norwegian government recently said no to proprietary formats, but it seems that the US government sites should be informed about the existence of non-Microsoft Web browsers, such as Firefox, Konqueror, Opera, and Safari. I have written a letter about this issue, which is posted on my blog for everyone to copy and base on it their own response. If they see how many people use alternative browsers, they'll probably reconsider and stay within the W3C standards."
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US Copyright Office Considering MSIE-only website

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  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:41AM (#13320417) Homepage Journal
    Don't let them make the mistake.

    Write an intelligent and well-informed comment to:

    Copyright GC/ I&R
    P.O. Box 70400
    Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024-0400

  • by Deslock (86955) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:41AM (#13320418)
    According to their website: "Support for Netscape 7.2, Firefox 1.0.3, and Mozilla 1.7.7 is planned but will not be available when preregistration goes into effect."

    It'd be easier to respond to their question if they posted an estimated date for when other browsers will be supported.

  • Give them a call... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:41AM (#13320421)
    In *addition to* writing a letter (as requested on the site, I'd suggest calling them too:

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David O. Carson, General Counsel, or Charlotte Douglass, Principal Legal Advisor, P.O. Box 70400, Washington, DC 20024-0400, Telephone (202) 707-8380.
  • by Snaller (147050) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:42AM (#13320424) Journal
    If they use a webboard, set the scrollbar to be the same color as the background of the board - ie, impossible to see for a lot of people. This stylesheet command is *ignored* by Firefox, but is rendered by MSIE - don't tell me that isn't harassment of MSIE users. So it goes both ways.
  • by grandmofftarkin (49366) * <3b16-ihd3@xemaps.com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:44AM (#13320432)
    Since big buisness and governments seem to take Gartner's advise with more enthusisum than the average slashdotter you might want to point them to this Gartner piece, should you choose to write to them:

    ID Number: G00125170, "Design Web Applications for Standards, Not for Browsers", (2 March 2005) [gartner.com]

  • by SolidGround (883883) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:45AM (#13320439)
    In addition to being a dupe and a rather obvious attempt to self-promote, it's also a non-story.

    "In its request for comments, the office made clear that it plans to support other browsers in the future. In an interview, an attorney with the office said that the sticking point was Siebel software that guaranteed compatibility with only selected browsers--including both IE and Netscape 7.02, a browser with negligible market share--in the current Siebel 7.7 software.

    The Copyright Office said it planned to upgrade to Siebel 7.8, which supports Netscape 7.2, Firefox 1.0.3 and Mozilla 1.7.7, but not in time for the Oct. 24 launch."
    (http://news.com.com/U.S.+Copyright+Office+poll+IE -only+OK/2100-1038_3-5827627.html [com.com])

    Assuming they're sincere about their intent to support other browsers in the future it's better to have a limited site now rather than no site at all. (Demographically IE does still cater to the largest audience)
    It would also be a pointless waste of tax dollars to come up with an interim solution for other browsers when it's already slated to happen for the next revision anyway.
  • Re:Bah! (Score:2, Informative)

    by petabyte (238821) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:50AM (#13320464)
    Umm, the Copyright Office isn't the same thing as the Patent and Trademark Office. They're not even in the same state ...
  • by delire (809063) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:55AM (#13320488)
    You say on your website:
    Of course, any Apple Macintosh, GNU/Linux, and BSD user will have a problem with a only-MSIE policy, so I think it would be a good idea to inform them about this issue.
    AFAIK MSIE does run on Apple's OSX, or is my little fox holding the wrong lightbulb.

    A reasonable number [li.org] to shun, a sizeable chunk being American. Regardless, I'm increasingly seeing browser/OS statistics that look more and more like this site's [w3schools.com]. On my own site Firefox useage is twice that of MSIE. Linux useage has grown a great amount in the last year and our audience is largely comprised artists, those perhaps interested in registering a copyrighted work.
  • Re:firefox (Score:2, Informative)

    by niskel (805204) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:00AM (#13320517)
    Netscape can use the IE renderer... This is why they say they can support it. New Netscape is just IE in sheeps clothing. Therefor, as a result, the content in question would still be IE only.
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:12AM (#13320573)

    don't tell me that isn't harassment of MSIE users.

    Unbelievably, it's not. Have ever talked to these developers? They do it on purpose, because they think it looks good. Not because it causes problems. They like the scrollbar colours to match the colour scheme they have for the website. The fact that it's hard to spot the scrollbars is irrelevant - same as using microscopic font sizes - they just tell you to "get glasses, grandpa".

    Anyway, Konqueror applies those scrollbar styles as well, so it doesn't just affect Internet Explorer.

  • by 01dbs (696498) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:18AM (#13320605)
    When you write, remember to include five copies plus an original.

    (For some reason, they require that "if sent by mail, an original and five copies of any comment should be addressed to...")
  • Siebel CRM to blame (Score:5, Informative)

    by Benanov (583592) <brian...kemp@@@member...fsf...org> on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:22AM (#13320628) Journal
    As covered on Groklaw, this is due to the fact that the Copyright Office is using an old version of Seibel CRM.

    Opinion:

    Of course, why they'd use some substandard MS-only piece of garbage is beyond me, but it's not because they were actively looking to cut out non-MS people...just someone suggested a crappy product and standardized on it.

    Nothing new.
  • by jafiwam (310805) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:28AM (#13320669) Homepage Journal
    Uhm... Doesn't Section 508 HTML/design standard make it ILLEGAL for a government web site to not follow the standard?

    Section 508 has all sorts of stuff that goes beyond W3C to include formatting, layout, table naming, etc. to ensure that a web site is easily browsable by non-sighted users' browser tools. (i.e. Lynx-like)

    They can't do what they are saying they want to do without breaking the law.

    (It's not that hard to make a compliant web site, you just need to work it in the process from the beginning.)
  • by hal9000(jr) (316943) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:41AM (#13320772)
    I agree with you, but indulge me:
    • Most web designers aren't programmers or even that techincal. They can see that there is a problem if they test with other browsers, but have no idea how to fix it.
    • This is because fiding out how different elements behave in different browsers is incredibly difficult.
      • As an example, I found after many hours of frustration that when using nested tables, IE will only size properly when each row element is sized where as netscape will enforce the widest size
      • I looked and looked for examples or explanations and found nothing but I was determined to make sure the site worked cross browser.
      • So I get it all done, test it in Opera, and guess what, the fucking fonts are not taking styles. Great.
    • This leads me to stating that people who write browsers interpret the standards in different ways, making life difficult for web site designers.
    • I have stopped sending webmasters emails pointing out that I won't visit thier IE only site and I point out the problems and I eithger get ignored or flamed. I haven't sent in a complaint in years and won't.
    • I can tell you from a corporate point of view that as long as people don't complain about non-compliance, the PHBs assume that as long as there are no complaints, then all is well.
    • Many of the books and other resources on HTML and web design blather on about non-essential issues and many of the browser compatablity charts are woefully out of date. Yet adding yet another chart or tutorial is pointless because you won't find it in the morass of bad information.
    So I can't completely beleive that all web designers are inept. And to be frank, it's eaiser and more cost effective to design for one browser than all of them. Now don't tell me about how great standards are, I am a believer, but I also know that having a deep knowledege of IE and ActiveX will allow designers to do more, easily.
  • by dshannon (704783) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:46AM (#13320805)
    To whom it may concern,

    At the URL:
    http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2005/70fr44878.htm l [copyright.gov]

    I read a proposed policy with title "Preregistration of Certain Unpublished Copyright Claims" which asks me as a member of the public to inform your office if I would have any problem if I were required to use the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser for preregistering a work.

    Below you can read my personal opinion and feedback on this issue.

    I have no access to Microsoft Internet Explorer because I chose to prevent access to it (for security reasons) on all my personal computers and use the Mozilla Firefox browser instead. Whilst my job provides me with access to Internet Explorer, I would be unwilling to submit personal copyright claims through my employer's systems for a variety of reasons related to privacy, intellectual property, and ethical standards.

    Microsoft Internet Explorer uses proprietary technology, such as ActiveX, which other Web browsers usually do not support. It also fails to correctly implement a number of crucial Web standards which are critical to interoperability of HTML web pages across different browsers. As a result, I regularly have difficulty navigating websites that are designed exclusively for Internet Explorer, but which are often otherwise compliant with international standards.

    As an IT professional with considerable experience in web development for multiple browsers, I know that it is possible to design a website accessible with any modern Web browser, by using Web standards such as XHTML and CSS, and - whenever interactivity is needed - JavaScript and Java applets (which can run on most operating systems).

    Requiring users to use a particular Web browser causes disruption, especially for Apple Macintosh and GNU/Linux or BSD operating systems users, who often have no access to Microsoft Windows and may have never used Microsoft Internet Explorer before. When a user community such as yours extends across (potentially) many millions of users, excluding these groups potentially disenfranchises them altogether, and at the very least can cost them significant time and effort (and potentially money) to access a service such as yours that forms one of the underpinnings of the copyright system. This can only be a bad thing.

    Please consider the difficulties of non-Microsoft operating system users, as well as those who choose not to use Microsoft's Internet Explorer on their Windows PC's, and try to provide a standards-oriented Web design, which would make their life (and ultimately your IT staff's life) much easier.

    Yours

    your name goes here!
  • by mhearne (601124) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:52AM (#13320835)
    I guess I might object to being required to use IE, since I don't have a windows computer!

    My bank tried the same thing, and refused to cooperate with me at all. When I spoofed Mozilla and Konqueror to report IE6, everything started working fine.

    I smell something offensive here.

    Michael
  • by crucini (98210) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:15AM (#13320955)
    Ah, but did your vpn support VOIP, with QoS guarantees? Why not? Because it wasn't part of the requirement, right?

    Web developers work within finite time and resource to hit specific requirements. When fancy bells and whistles are part of the requirement, and cross-browser support is not, off-brand browsers will suffer. Speaking only for the web developers I've worked with, they are quite capable of making sites cross-browser, and in fact usually advocate this to their employer/customer.

    When you are writing the checks, the web developers will do what you say.
  • by Maagma (714192) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:20AM (#13320998) Homepage
    And make sure you do RTFA because it says that Support for Netscape 7.2, Firefox 1.0.3, and Mozilla 1.7.7 is planned but will not be available when preregistration goes into effect. Present users of these browsers may experience problems when filing claims. Meaning this is a temporary problem, albiet a needless one.
  • Ah, Siebel (Score:4, Informative)

    by crucini (98210) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:29AM (#13321068)
    If it's Siebel powered, the site will probably be Windows-only even when it supports more browsers. Last time I encountered Siebel, it used an ActiveX control in the browser. That is really a bigger story than what browsers they support this week.
  • Re:firefox (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:44AM (#13321176) Journal
    Netscape can use the IE renderer... This is why they say they can support it. New Netscape is just IE in sheeps clothing. Therefor, as a result, the content in question would still be IE only.

    From the article:

    At this point in the process of developing the Copyright Office's system for online preregistration, it is not entirely clear whether the system will be compatible with web browsers other than Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 5.1 and higher. Filers of preregistration applications will be able to employ these Internet Explorer browsers successfully. Support for Netscape 7.2, Firefox 1.0.3, and Mozilla 1.7.7 is planned but will not be available when preregistration goes into effect. Present users of these browsers may experience problems when filing claims.

    Translation:

    Yeah, we know that we're supposed to provide uniform access and all that, but those stupid hack developers went and built an IE only site. Now we're staring down a government mandated deadline and there's no way we can fix it fast enough. We're kind of fucked at this point, so we'd better bite the bullet and come clean. Lets see if we can marginalize the issue as we do it, then we kill two birds with one stone and maybe even keep our jobs.

    So, um, yeah... this has nothing to do with Netscapes IE renderer. Nice try though.
  • by muonzoo (106581) on Monday August 15, 2005 @11:34AM (#13321659) Homepage
    AFAIK MSIE does run on Apple's OSX, or is my little fox holding the wrong lightbulb.
    MSFT has end-of-lifed MSIE on the mac a couple years ago. See a report on this, here [macworld.com] note that this was in June of 2003, over 2 years ago. Current releases of OS X do not include MSIE.
  • by ranh (853698) on Monday August 15, 2005 @11:43AM (#13321738) Homepage
    In israel, every government or municipal website requires IE - some don't even let you in if you run something else, others just don't work. You can't pay a bill or file a form with any other browser.

    This is not just the government, IE is actually considered a proper standard here. One of our biggest universities, Tel Aviv university, where I go to school, uses an online course system for bulletin boards and knowledge bases that you can't login to without IE, and sends students messages in word .doc format! Same goes for all our major portals, news sites, and online communities, not to mention e-commerce sites...
  • by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:09PM (#13321912)
    Uhm... Doesn't Section 508 HTML/design standard make it ILLEGAL for a government web site to not follow the standard?

    Like most such things, this has a clause at the beginning saying "unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency." Given that the agency in question appears to have made plans already, simply rewriting the plan itself might easily qualify in their minds as an undue burden. IOW, to make a clear-cut case for illegality, you'd probably have to show that it's easier to do the job in a standards-compliant manner -- specifically, that doing so would save enough money to cover the cost of the other rewriting (e.g. of plans) they'd have to do along with it.

    Of course, if their minds are still open on the subject, things might not be that bad -- in that case, showing that a small incremental cost up-front would save money on the long run (for example) might easily qualify as relieving any undue burden. Don't take for granted that their minds are still really open just because they're soliciting opinions though -- that's probably required regardless.

    --
    The universe is a figment of its own imagination.

  • by wikinerd (809585) on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:31PM (#13322070) Journal
    In Greece we have government websites that recomment Mozilla, while the youth of a major political party supports open source and a former minister recently made a statement condemning software patents.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @01:25PM (#13322533)
    Perhaps you are unaware; there are application called 'screen readers' that take all the textual information (supplied by the web browser/user agent from the source code or in the application widgets/window titles/etc.) and speak it via the soundcard.

    If the web page is coded correctly, the blind/visually impaired users can get the information. The proper coding also enables keyboard access only, such as needed by people with mobility (e.g., palsy, missing limbs, joystick key selection) issues.

    This is usually under the guidelines of Section 508.

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