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Re: No decision from the Appeals court


From: Hall, Kevin (K.M.)
Date: Sep 30, 2004 7:22AM

You're right, that was really vague and broad sounding... happens sometimes when I write quickly...

If we can prevent the nightmare that is copyright law in the U.S. (see the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Honorable Senator from Disney, and the new Induce Act) from spreading to web design and accessibility I would be very happy. The similarity to web accessibility lies in the fact that there are substantive qualitative differences between copyright in print and digital media - just as there are fundamental differences between online and offline accessibility. Failing to recognize and embrace the fundamentally different nature of digital products has lead to serious errors in reasoning and faulty policy decisions in both areas.

Software patents are another area where an offline concept is being regularly misapplied to digital products often to the detriment of the public good. One thing that may be worth re-reading for discussions like this one is the U.S. Supreme Court's Sony Betamax decision from 1983. It is extremely well written and does a good job of framing discussion of modern technological issues. See savebetamax.org for more information (it's focused on the Induce Act but has lots of good material and a link to the decision).

Part of the problem is that we try to talk through analogies, which leads to people thinking of two disparate concepts as more similar than they really are. Web designers have had discussions recently about letting go of the old concepts of absolute control of layouts and the user experience from print design and embracing the true, flexible nature of web sites. When dealing with web accessibility I think we have to do some letting go of rigid offline accessibility concepts and consider flexibility and innovation in our designs in order to achieve the real accessibility potential of the web. These are really two largely distinct areas that are brought together under the large umbrella of accessibility.

-Kevin Hall

-----Original Message-----
From: michael.brockington [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 5:22 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] No decision from the Appeals court

-----Original Message-----
From: khall51 [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]

> I don't think it was really off topic in that understanding how the ADA
has made a positive
> impact in some areas may lead some people to the conclusion that it would
be a good idea
> to broadly apply it or similar legislation to web sites.

Sounding slightly vague there - lawyers love words like broad and similar:
gives them plenty to argue over in court, at our expense.

Perhaps I can pose a different, though related question. What is the closest
analogy you can find to Website Acessibility?
On the one hand, copyright law treats the Web as essentially the same as all
printed media - yet when I buy a newspaper I only have one choice; ie which
'brand' to buy, if one is unreadable I must buy a different one.
In contrast, there is much talk these days about software patenting. While
many people disagree, Big Business like to treat software concepts (the code
itself is already copyrighted of course) as a tangible object to be Patented,
which I would assume would allow you to Patent an entire website in at least
some circumstances.

What existing area do you all think is the most appropriate comparison?



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