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Today's notice seeks information as to whether persons filing the electronic-only preregistration form prescribed by the Copyright Office will experience difficulties if it is necessary to use Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser in order to preregister a work.
Comments are due no later than August 22, 2005.
Or is it? A government service should be democratic more than anything... but it is the very one responsible for protecting everything closed-source, including the software it is, in a way, proposing to promote by allowing only it in its bureaucratic procedure. Odd situation...
How long will it take to provide support for the above browsers?
If support is provided in a reasonable time frame, I don't see any problems with the requirements.
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.
In order to ensure that preregistration can be implemented in a smoothly functioning and timely manner, the Office now seeks comments that will assist it in determining whether any eligible parties will be prevented from preregistering a claim due to browser requirements of the preregistration system. Therefore, this notice seeks information whether any potential preregistration filers would have difficulties using Internet Explorer (version 5.1 or higher) to file preregistration claims, and if so, why. More generally, in the interest of achieving support for browsers in the Office's preregistration processing environment, this notice inquires whether (and why) an eligible party who anticipates preregistering a claim on the electronic-only form will not be able to use Internet Explorer to do so, or will choose not to preregister if it is necessary to use Internet Explorer.
In short, they are asking why they should go through the trouble of supporting alternative browsers [we really should find another term for that] when everyone has access to IE (the 90% rule). The thing is that they are approaching this problem entirely from the wrong direction. It's not why should they support browser other than IE but why they shouldn't support them. Why does the browser the preregistrant uses really matter when they preregister electronically for a copyright? What technical difficulties are they facing that makes their systems incompatible with non-IE browsers?
Looking through the actual proposed rules, the form requirements seem simple enough that cross-browser support shouldn't be a problem. This leaves their backend as the main culprit of their technical difficulties.
If designers insist on developing alternative browsers, the least they could do is make them fully IE compatible. ;)
I agree that if everyone was using Firefox it would be easier, but some people do appreciate spyware and lack of standard compliance so we have to comply with the Internet Explorer market.
Insofar as they would not be able to demonstrate that going IE-only was technically required, for a government body to do so must surely break some law or other.
Of course, if I believed in conspiracies, I might think the US Government wanted to exploit security holes to install its own spyware. However, I tend to believe stupidity is more common than conspiracy.
In many industries - they wont offer technical assistance to people using services that are not "supported".
My phone (for example) works fine on my phone network - but it is not "supported" in that if I have a problem that is specific to my handset, then the customer care team won't know enough about the phone to be able to offer support.
So the question is - does "support" mean that the site will physically break without using MSie - or does it mean that if you have problems, then customer care cannot "support" your query?
It sure sounds like an IT person made a list of ALL the available optional browsers and said,
"Do you REALLY want to make sure this site is viewable in ALL these other browsers?
It will consume much of our limited budget just for the manpower to test them all."
At this point, the manager-person looking at the list rolls their eyes and says
"What are all these things? I've never heard of them...does anyone actually use them?
Why don't they just use the Blue E?"
[edited by: microcars at 2:24 pm (utc) on Aug. 10, 2005]
That's a good question, and I hope it would mean the latter. I.e., rather than test for IE and generate an error message, let users choose their software and take their chances. The emphasis should be on compatability, not branding (just as it always has been in the PC market).
Wont affect me personally but I do find it strange that one US gov't agency is saying avoid IE due to the access that it has to your system in order to (cough..cough..) er "function" ...and there is another agency part of the same machine that says the opposite ...maybe they never knew each other existed?...
Maybe the next step is to oblige all US citizens to use only wintel products and palladium technology ...even to send emails ....sort of privatised echelon :)
Heck, Google Maps might be the most complex commercial dhtml code online today and it works better in Firefox than IE! What's the government's excuse?
Users of the above browsers should make sure support is available within a reasonable time frame after preregistration goes into effect.
Users of Apple's Safari should send comments to the address included in the note. It seems the Federal Register failed to take this browser into account.
The US Copyright Office is considering whether to require IE for online pre-registration of a work.
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.
This is complete lunacy. Have they even considered their own government's Section 508? www.section508.gov
. . . the Office now seeks comments . . .
If anyone wants to, go to the article, click a couple of links and tell the guys why you won't/can't use IE. They are asking for exactly that kind of input. I'll bet it ends up working fine in IE, FF and Safari, right out of the gate.
The only issues I can think of are related to developer laziness and thinking that some of the proprietary (non-compliant) stuff MS is trying to force into the standards (except they only work with MS/IE) will produce a "better" app for the client.
Damn those MSDN diploma mills!
In fact, that's what I specify for my coders. Target blah blah version of HTML or whatever. Then I don't worry about the browser, per se, unless there are CSS bugs, for example, to work around.
the problems they face are the result of using a WYSIWYG editor like FrontPage
I haven't found Frontpage to be an issue with non-IE browsers. Nor Dreamweaver or anything else for that matter.
Having said that, the last time I checked (about a year ago I think) the msdn site only worked on Opera if you changed the user-agent id. It seems the site was designed to fail deliberately under Opera - typical Microsoft dirty tricks!