Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New Copyright Office service to work only in IE

The U.S. Copyright Office is developing a tool by which citizens may pre-register copyright claims via the agency's website. Only problem is, it'll only work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which is not exactly known as the most secure browser in the world. Not to mention the fact that government agencies shouldn't be leaving out large numbers of the public when they offer services.

I've registered my dissent. You can to, through the Free Software Foundation.

To whom it may concern,

In the web development world, professionals create web applications that will work for the widest possible audience. By developing a Copyright Office interface to the public that will not work for a significant and growing number of citizens who use browsers other than Internet Explorer (IE), the Copyright Office is sending a clear message to citizens who use browsers other than IE: "Sorry, you're a minority of users, therefore you're not important."

If the developers of this web application suggest that the number of citizens using browsers other than IE is insignificant, I'm afraid that their data are fatally flawed. Check their facts; they are selling you a product that won't work for all the people who will want to use it.

By effectively turning away large numbers of citizens who want to use this service, the agency will treat them like second-class citizens. This is unconscionable.

Only an amateur would build a web app that's browser-specific and later have to back-engineer for it to work for the rest of the audience or market. And since no timeline for this future functionality has been announced, the public must assume that it is a low priority. What happens, then, if a budget constraint cuts it altogether? The public's saddled with a tool that many can't use.

Mark Bult
web development and usability expert


Blogger espd said...

Update from the Free Software Foundation:

Thanks for sending us your comment on the proposed Internet Explorer
requirement. We were able, with the help of Public Knowledge folks in
DC, to hand-deliver the comments to the US Copyright Office on Monday,
August 22, 2005.

You can read a selection of the comments online here.

? John Sullivan
Program Administrator

8/26/2005 11:56:00 AM


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