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US Copyright Office Considering MSIE-only website 491

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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  • But... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward should I learn to care about copyrights of others when I can't access this site?
    • MS Patents (Score:5, Funny)

      by jim_v2000 ( 818799 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:54AM (#13320844)
      In other news, Microsoft filed a patent today for an "Interface for accessing an online database of patents".
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It is not just the copyright office.

      At the level of state abd county governments I'd say that over 80% have problems if you don't run Microsoft products. Most give you Word documents, and assume you are running I.E., usually with Flash.

      At least one state University, when confronted on this issue said (and I quote) "Most computers are PC's, and if someone runs some off brand machine instead, they should just buy a PC like the rest of the world"

      This statement has so many misconceptions I didn't even respond
  • m$ is hogging all the patents anyways... so we might as well use their browser!
  • Dumb. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:37AM (#13320387)
    From TFA:
    "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."

    So support for other browsers is already planned. I imagine that if enough people complain about it starting out as only IE, they will just postpone this preregistration plan until they have the other browser support ready. All that does is make people who want to use IE wait longer.

    • Re:Dumb. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gsasha ( 550394 )

      First, this "planned" status may take unnecessary long. After all, when they are serving the majority of potential visitors with the IE version, there's much less pressure to go and implement the alternate browsers.

      Second, and more importantly, if they support all the browsers at the same time, that'll force them, at least to some extent, to make a standards-friendly implementation that will work on all the browsers.

      However, if they do IE first, and all the others later, the original version wil

    • by PhYrE2k2 ( 806396 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:45AM (#13320792)
      And they should. Why release something half-@$$ed that works in some browsers and not others? It means they'll make their page in Frontpage and then change things until it works in other browsers- it's a hack job.

      Please- Planned means nothing. It means it might be months out when it makes no sense. I can understand Google Toolbar coming out late for Firefix (it's a whole new program), but this is HTML that should display in all browsers.

      And a large part of patents is (supposed to be) fairness to all parties. I shouldn't have to go find a Windows machine with IE to hog for a few hours and transfer all my documents over to paste into their Web form. It's something I should be able to do right away. If I can't do it, nobody should be able to (in this case). Otherwise it gives some people *cough* M$ *cough* an advantage on Patents.

      Though I'm not a fan of that guy's letter. He touts lists of acronyms like CSS, XHTML, IE, OSX, etc that the developers would know but the _managers_ won't. A simple:

      "Internet Explorer, while being used by the majority of Web users, is not used by all Web users. This is in favour of countless browsers (some of which are listed below) which offer considerable advantages to non-Windows users (Mac, Linux) as well as Windows users who are looking for superior alternates to Microsoft's Web browser. Statistics on the number of users utilizing each browser are available at http://..../ [....] Please do not underestimate the 10% of hundreds of millions of US and foreign Web users who choose to utilize alternate technologies. It is unfair to provide an advantage to Windows/Internet Explorer users over others, when it is entirely unnecessary. All Web browsers support standards, such as those set by w3c ( [] which your developers should build their Web site to conform to rather than utilize proprietary methods exclusive to IE.

      Simple, to the point, doesn't tout acronyms and explains most of them when it does. References a statistic, and really emphasizes the number of people affected and how common they are.

    • Re:Dumb. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tobiasly ( 524456 )
      It doesn't matter how long the list of "supported" browsers is. What they're trying to accomplish isn't exactly a design-intensive web app. It's a simple way to submit, read, and organize information.

      If they write the website using standards, their list of "supported" browsers could be "all standards-compliant browsers".

      Yes, I understand that any website must be tested with whatever the more popular browsers of the day are. But they aren't doing anyone a favor by listing these browsers they happen to test a
  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:38AM (#13320394)
    Hahaha, I kid, I kid.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sierpinski ( 266120 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:38AM (#13320395)
    I find it extremely interesting that the government in the past has brought an anti-trust suit against Microsoft for being a monopoly, however they themselves would help to propagate this by using their software. Not to mention allowing ONLY their software, they are ensuring that any user who wants to visit their site also must "pay" Microsoft, thus even further contributing to the "monopoly".

    I would have thought that if the government was under the impression that Microsoft was a monopoly (true or not), they would have taken steps to help prevent adding to that situation, and support a different browser for their site, or *gasp* don't require *ANY* browser, but rather just design it to be functionally usable by any W3C compliant browser. Add in the 508 compliance for web accessbility, and you can't go wrong.

    Government, make up your mind.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Generic Guy ( 678542 )

      the government in the past has brought an anti-trust suit against Microsoft for being a monopoly, however they themselves would help to propagate this by using their software.

      It's even worse. I work at a small law office, undergoing ECF (electronic case filing) training and conversion right now. The federal courts, you know the ones which convicted Microsoft of being a monopoly in the browser market, have issued system specs which require Internet Explorer. The mind reels.

      • It's even worse. I work at a small law office, undergoing ECF (electronic case filing) training and conversion right now. The federal courts, you know the ones which convicted Microsoft of being a monopoly in the browser market, have issued system specs which require Internet Explorer. The mind reels.

        This was exactly my point.

        Luckily some browsers can spoof IE in their browser type settings, although I don't know how well it works since I've never tried it. I'm lucky enough to be in a position to not use si
    • That assumes that the United States Government still functions as it was intended. That, unfortuneately, is just not the case. If it still functioned properly, the government wouldn't do a complete 180 every time a new president is elected.

      The president has far more power these days than was ever intended.

    • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:57AM (#13320859) Homepage
      1995 U.S. sues Microsoft
      2000 U.S. drops suit
      2003 U.S. uses Microsoft software exclusively
      2005 U.S. forces citizens to use MS software to access government sites
      you are here
      2012 U.S. forces everyone to use MS software to access the internet
      2018 U.S. implants citizens with microchip running MS software
      2020 U.S. uses MS software/implants to read your thoughts
      2030 U.S. uses MS software/implants to control your actions
  • Standards (Score:5, Funny)

    by alnapp ( 321260 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:39AM (#13320399) Homepage
    Just stick to the standards, then all browsers will be able to access it.

    Haha aHahaHaha HahaHaha

    • Just stick to the standards, then all browsers will be able to access it.

      At least then, nothing will break. In IE it will look like as if it has been through a meat grinder, but it'll work. I can deal with IE-specific sites that break the layout in other browsers, it's the "Here's a clusterfuck we just can't parse" pages that simply won't work in other browsers that frustrate me.
    • Re:Standards (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Xugumad ( 39311 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @09:46AM (#13320810)
      Huh? As part of a web application development team, our policy is to write to the stanadards, then tweak to make it work in as many browers as possible. Our applications may not look as fancy as some places, but so what? I'm fed up with sites insisting I use flash to access them, for example. I'm not there to drool over graphics, I'm there to get some information, and don't want to have to wrestle the interface to get at it.

      Sure, if you start playing with Javascript, you can get into a real mess, but I'd have felt that just means you should avoid Javascript.

      In particular, if a blind user comes to our website, they should see something useful. We can't simulate this perfectly, but we do test the applications in Lynx, and make sure they're usable.

      Really, what's so hard about making websites that work in standards compliant browsers?
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:39AM (#13320403) Journal
    Browsers should support HTML. Websites should be written in HTML.

    These are not fundamentally architecturally different pieces of equipment. If you can't create a website that works adeqautely with all browsers, then you don't deserve to be employed as a web designer.
    • Browsers should support HTML.

      Yes, browsers change faster than the archived information. I'm tired of playing this "cat and mouse" game with browser updates causing one to reedit html files. The US Copyright Office should consider adopting html standards. If MS doesn't want to play along then they can't go screw themselves. Here's the standard I think they should use:

      For reference:

      XHTML 1.0 The Extensible HyperText Markup Language (Second Edition) []

      XHTML []

      If you can't create a website that works adeqa

      • You have to (Score:3, Interesting)

        If you understand how to correctly use html and css then your site should work with all properly written browsers. The parent is bang on the mark.

        The problem is that, thanks to MS, your perfectly designed site won't work properly with the most used browser. Remember - MS does NOT support CSS (or html) correctly to standards. They're not going to even try to pass the acid test.

        You can say that's MS's problem but it isn't - if your site doesn't render correctly for 90% of the population, then for all prac

  • by ReformedExCon ( 897248 ) <> on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:40AM (#13320406)
    I have a big problem with "protest form letters". On the surface it seems like a pretty good idea. Get a lot of people mobilized using an easy to duplicate form and get your collective voice heard by those in power. However, the reality is more likely to favor individually written letters that express original sentiment, or at the very least an original statement of a widely-held sentiment.

    Yes, it's bad that the copyright office wants to make the website IE-only. But look at their reasons, try to address their reasons without sounding condescending and elitist or like a victim of some huge crime. Better yet, get involved in your local politics and make a real difference in your government.

    There are many ways to make political hay. Sending form letters to your representatives is, in my opinion, one of the least productive methods of making your voice heard.
    • Sending letters to your representative is the least used and most effective way of getting heard. There are staff who read and report on everything that gets sent to legislators.

      Without constant feedback from their constituencies legislators are operating in a vacuum, with only their own interests and opinions to guide them. Do you trust a politician to operate honorably in that condition? Making yourself personally heard is important if only to remind politicians that you are listening.

      On the other hand,

  • 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.

  • Do you think that Microsoft have given them some sort of incentive for this new rule, or is it just a case of a bureaucratic organisation randomly generating rules just for the hell of it?

  • 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.
    • it's not just a case of firefox not rendering the scrollbar in such a stupid way, it's most browsers which aren't IE. IE only sites are often the result of laziness or a lack of web design capability and use of frontpage (those last 2 are pretty much 1 point), phpBB2 boards with black on black scrollbars are a protest against users who continue to allow these idiot site 'designers' to get away with their awful code.
    • 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

      • They do it on purpose, because they think it looks good.

        Ick. I never like it when people sacrifice usability for looks, especially tacky looks.

        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".

        I think being condescending like this is a bad idea. In fact, ignoring good graphics design is a bad idea, and they are in the wrong for it. Black-on-black (or otherwise poor contrast) scroll bars, if they are done, is
    • 99 out of 100 webboards?

      Frankly, I have not seen this issue. I really have yet to see a web site designed for Firefox or other alternative program such that it tries to shut out MSIE.
  • "and if so, why" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:44AM (#13320431) Journal
    First, this is the Copyright Office, not the Patent Office.
    Second, they're not looking for, nor will they likely accept, arguments along the lines of "single-standards are dangerous". And they claim that Firefox and Safari standards are planned for the future. So you need to give them a good reason, now, not to do this.
    What are such good reasons?

    Well, for one, preregistration is for copyrighted works that "have a history of pre-release infringement". And, as a publisher in such a field, there's no way in hell you're going to expose that information to known security risks, such as MSIE. It's like starting an antitheft service for cars likely to be stolen, then requiring the owners to leave the cars in an unguarded lot with the keys in the ignition.

    Likewise, you can argue that no ultra-secure, enterprise-critical information, such as copyright pre-registration data, resides on any machine capable of running MSIE. Again, it's an issue of security. Denying this service to all but MSIE users effectively removes it from all except those who really need it.

    Now all you need is someone willing to fire off a letter in sextuplicate.
    • Safari (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bunratty ( 545641 )
      I don't see where support for Safari is planned. I think it's worth asking them to support that browser, since it's been the default browser on Mac OS X for years. It also has 1-2% usage share, comparable to Mozilla and Netscape, both of which they're also planning on supporting. Not supporting Safari encourages the use of IE for Mac, which used to be the default browser on the Mac and has several serious unpatched security holes.
    • Second, they're not looking for, nor will they likely accept, arguments along the lines of "single-standards are dangerous."

      I don't see why I have to come up with any reason.

      They are asking if it's acceptable if there site is MS-IE only.

      The answer: No, its not.

      Reason (if you need one):
      1. Not everyone runs Internet Explorer. Not everyone runs Windows.
      2. One can come up with a compatible standard complient website without any more work.
      3. It's the internet and should run on any platform that conforms to c
  • by grandmofftarkin ( 49366 ) * <> 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) []

  • 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 upgr
    • "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."

      They may well be breaking international trade rules or indeed, various local competition laws.

    • 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.
  • Couldn't that be considered government subsidy, isn't that also how corrupt third world governments work? By requiring a specific company's products you are driving business their way.

    By requiring Word doc format, they are requiring that you purchase Microsoft Word, requiring that you use Internet Explorer they are requiring that you use Microsoft Windows.

    Wonder what the WTO would have to say.
  • by OwlWhacker ( 758974 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:48AM (#13320450) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps the Copyright Office doesn't have enough cash to pay a competent Web developer to create its site?
  • There is no way this can fly, as it will more than likely mean less accessibility, and thus less adhearence to 508. While that isn't a big deal in the corporate world, it is in the government. Certain things are exempt (maps in an IMS, for instance), but I can't imagine this sort of thing, which is more than likely just a simple form with f'ed up javascript, gaining an exemption.
  • In trying to figure out who and how to submit my comments, I'm finding it pretty tough to decode all the loopy instructions. (In my defense, it's too early for me to be typing anything.)
    It appears that email isn't an option; and that hardcopies have to be submitted in sextuplicate(!). Even more confusing to me:

    The Office requests that responses to this supplemental notice of inquiry be made part of the responders' comments on the July 22nd Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

    That's from the last paragraph

  • From TFA... (Score:5, Funny)

    by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:51AM (#13320466)
    "If hand delivered by a private party, an original and five copies of any comment should be brought to Room LM-401 of the James Madison Memorial Building between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and the envelope should be addressed as follows: Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Copyright Office, James Madison Memorial Building, Room LM-401, 101 Independence Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20559-6000. If hand delivered by a commercial courier, an original and five copies of any comment must be delivered to the Congressional Courier Acceptance Site located at Second and D Streets, NE., Washington, DC, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The envelope should be addressed as follows: Copyright Office General Counsel, Room LM-403, James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue, SE., Washington, DC. If sent by mail, an original and five copies of any comment should be addressed to: Copyright GC/ I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024-0400. Comments may not be delivered by means of overnight delivery services such as Federal Express, United Parcel Service, etc., due to delays in processing receipt of such deliveries."

    Which is French for...

          "But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."
          "Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or anything."
          "But the plans were on display ..."
          "On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
          "That's the display department."
          "With a torch."
          "Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
          "So had the stairs."
          "But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
          "Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      an original and five copies of any comment must be delivered to the Congressional Courier Acceptance Site located at

            You'd think the fine folks at the US Copyright Office would own a photocopier...oh, wait!
  • Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Maxthon [].

    Frontend for IE core that can also use the Gecko engine for rendering. I don't know too much about how these things work, but I'm a heavy web browser who's used Firefox extensively and I prefer Maxthon. Much faster UI response, doesn't crash/freeze for [me and group] as much as FF, and comes with all the basic important extensions built in. I hate proselytizing, so this is hard for me -- I just want to make people aware of it. Reject it at your leisure.

    You should use
  • 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 [] to shun, a sizeable chunk being American. Regardless, I'm increasingly seeing browser/OS statistics that look more and more like this site's []. 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.
  • Don't they have a webserver log to have a peek at the browser statistics? For my site, it's 16.5% Mozilla and growing. It wouldn't be fair if any government service excluded such a significant fraction of visitors.
    • According to last month's statistics of my site [], 13.9% of its visitors used GNU/Linux and 37.1% used Firefox. MSIE was used only by 41% of the users, while Windows was used by 69%.
  • 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.

    Would that be MSIE as of some freeze-date? Or does the USCO mean to hitch its wagon to Microsoft's development path, so that, e.g., playwrights and composers must also master the art of frequent software-upgrading?

  • claim 1. A way and method of registering a patent via HTTP.

    claim 2. The method of claim 1, where the preferred HTTP access method is using Internet Explorer, version 6, or any later version

    claim 3. The method of claim 2, where the submitted document holding the patent application is in the patented Adobe document format.
  • To take their business elsewhere, that way cutting the income of USPTO by so much, that they would not be able to keep providing their services. To prevent that from happening, they came to the conclusion that it is best for everybody, including those people using non standard named browsers (The standard names being: IE, Internet Exlorer). Luckily MS is not a monopoly, so it is just about keeping the internal revenue stream at a sufficient level by providing the services to the companies which desperately
  • IE 7 will analyse your internet connection and automatically detect patents which may be of use to Microsoft. There are then two possible actions which the user can choose:
    • Submit the web-form direct to redmond.
    • Submit the form with the assignemnt changed to a random Microsoft employeee of the day
    This way we can rip you off and patent your invention without resorting to bankrupting you via legal fees.

    Microsft cares for you too ;)
  • "This site looks ugly in Firefox because the layout is b0rked"

    "This site won't work in Firefox because of browser detection scripts that disable it on purpose"

    "This site won't work in Firefox because it uses IE-only JavaScript objects"

    "This site won't work in Firefox because it depends on an ActiveX object"

    So I wonder which it is... I can accept #1 with some grumbling about shoddy design, since it's really not that hard to lay out a site in a compatible way, but I can deal with it. The others are less excu
  • ... and probably version 6 at that. I saw someone else's post that "MSIE runs on OSX." Sure it does, but generally when people are doing browser detection or just putting in IE-only stuff, it's WINDOWS IE they're doing that for. OSX MSIE hasn't been updated in a long time, AFAICT, and even when it was 'current' it wasn't compatible with many "IE only" sites.

    When people go the trouble of specifying "IE only" they almost alwasy mean "Windows IE only".
  • Siebel CRM to blame (Score:5, Informative)

    by Benanov ( 583592 ) <brian.kemp@me m b e r . f s f .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.


    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.)
  • To whom it may concern,

    At the URL: l []

    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
  • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:02AM (#13320895)
    But how many of you have ever registered a copyright? If you haven't, isn't it a little disingenuous to write to the Copyright Office complaining?

    I'm seeing a lot of comments demanding plain-jane HTML, and denying that it costs anything to support multiple browsers, because you just check for "standards compliance". I used to think this. It's completely wrong today. Many web applications today have rich interfaces approaching desktop apps. Getting them to work cross-browser is damn hard. It is definitely worth doing for a mass-market thing like gmail, but for a niche site used by a handful of attorneys? Hard to justify.

    Of course, the rich interface is probably not needed or justified in this governmental site.

    The problem is not solvable by standards compliance, at least in the automatable sense. You can have CSS that passes validation, looks fine in IE, and piles things on top of each other in other browsers.
    • But how many of you have ever registered a copyright? If you haven't, isn't it a little disingenuous to write to the Copyright Office complaining?

      That's not really relevant.

      The objections are pointing out that the Copyright Office, as a Government entity, shouldn't be mandating any sort of restriction of access to Government services.
  • by whitroth ( 9367 ) <whitroth@[ ] ['5-c' in gap]> on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:19AM (#13320993) Homepage
    I read the notice, and, seeing they didn't have an official email address or Webmail site to submit comments, called them.

    I then spoke to one of the lawyers.

    She tells me that
          - this spring, Congress mandated that they set up to do this "preregistration" business online by late October;
          - that they're funded mostly by registration fees, unlike the patent office, and so do not have a huge budge;
          - they're, ahhh, somewhat behind the curve on technology (quote from nice person: "I won't say neanderthal, but..."), and
          - the department that's implementing this (direct quote) "will guarantee that the forms will work with IE, but won't guarantee that it will work with other browsers."

    I explained how, though I am very much not a Macaholic, most of the artists I have read of or know personally use Macs, which would preclude them from using this system. I also pointed out that not a single Website that takes your credit card requires IE.

    She and I had a nice conversation, and she requested that I send the letter w/ five copies. So, folks, send the letters, ASAP.


    PS I told her, at the end, that I'd heard of this on slashdot, and her response indicated that she may have heard of ./, and that she now understood why I'd said that if they had an email address for comments, their server would have crashed....
    • It should be illegal for any government office to do this kind of thing. I see this more and more, with documents in proprietary formats (like Word, Realplayer) and formats intended to be non-copyable (like streaming media). Any government website or document should be in the format that is best suited for automated access (for example, for gathering information for an FOIA request), from the broadest possible range of clients (browsers, etc).

      The government can't plead expense for new services at least, bec

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!