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Odeon Orders Takedown Of Copycat Site 478

Tuxedo Jack writes "The Register reports that Odeon Cinemas, a British theater chain, has ordered a takedown of a copycat version of its site that was made by a disability activist. The original didn't work outside of IE on Windows and was in violation of the Disability Discrimination Act; the activist-recoded one worked on everything. Odeon has flip-flopped on the issue, too; they liked it when it was first up, and now they don't."
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Odeon Orders Takedown Of Copycat Site

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:30PM (#9700655)
    Seems like they'd be better off using this energy to make sure their site works on all browsers instead of coming down on someone who is doing a legitimate service...
    • by josh3736 ( 745265 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:36PM (#9700738) Homepage
      I wish they would use their energy to produce a site that is actually navigable.

      I spent no less than 60 seconds staring at the intro screen trying to figgure out how to get in to the damn site.

      I hate intro screens.

      When I finally realized that clicking the ad wasn't actually clicking an ad, I was presented with a just-as-mysterious layout on the homepage.

    • by sterno ( 16320 )
      Kill two birds with one stone and hire the guy to fix the website. I guarantee that he's cheaper than the lawyers. It'd also make great publicity.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:28PM (#9701341)
      A few days ago I actually sent the Odeon an e-mail voicing my disgust at how difficult it is to use their web site on anything other than a specific version of Internet Explorer.

      This is what I sent:

      To whomever it may concern,

      I am writing this e-mail to Odeon Cinemas to bring to your attention my severe annoyance and incompatibilities with your website. As you indicate in your Behind the Scenes/About us page, the Odeon is the biggest cinema retailer in the UK.

      Why is it then, you have the poorest web site, not just in the entertainment arena but probably compared to most small businesses. It is unreliable, unfriendly and incompatible with any non Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. What about the rest of us who use Apple, Linux or any other non-microsoft browser?

      Your web site is appalling. It discriminates against a large number of users who do not use Internet Explorer. These people are ALSO your customers, because they are not using a Microsoft product shouldn't make any difference whatsoever. Would you only sell tickets to visually-able people at the desk if they couldn't see which films where on that evening? Would you refuse to deal with them because they were not part of the majority or the main stream? Your site discriminates against people with visual difficulties, which you may find more information about on the governments web sites concerning accessibility laws.

      What makes your failure even more spectacular is that you list British Telecom and Lateral as being your online partners. This certainly doesn't reflect well, as two companies who are supposed to be the market leaders are have collectively failed to provide you with a system which works for all people. This is a situation which is 100% attainable, yet you choose not to for whatever reason.

      I seriously suggest you get these issues fixed, as I am sure that the majority of the people who have frustrations with your web site will not be as vocal as I am.

      This is the reply I got:
      Thank you for your e-mail.

      Please accept my apologies for any lack of functionality you have encountered whilst
      using the ODEON Website. I can appreciate your frustration as an Internet user that
      you would like to use your browser of choice. However I'm sure you can appreciate from
      our point of view that we want to make our website as readily available to the general
      public as possible.

      As a result it made sense to invest heavily into our web site to ensure immediate functionality with the world's most popular and well used Web Browser "Microsoft Internet Explorer". A significant majority of the world's internet users
      have IE installed on their machine even if it is not their first choice of browser so the option to access the ODEON Website through this medium is always on offer to the customer.

      However I am happy to inform you that ODEON is investing time and
      effort into ensuring functionality across the many Web Browsers available to Internet Users, hopefully including Netscape Navigator and other Gecko based Web Browsers such as Opera and MoZilla.

      Best Wishes

    • if anyone wants to tell them how stupid they are.
  • by Tezkah ( 771144 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:30PM (#9700656)
    ... a slashdotting will. :\
  • Open and shut, IMO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SYFer ( 617415 ) <syfer@sy[ ].net ['fer' in gap]> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:30PM (#9700660) Homepage
    I appreciate Somerville's (apparently) noble motivations and Odeon's non-compatibility is certainly a problem, but how can you argue with their logic?

    People are essentially misled into giving personal info and, since Somerville is using Odeon's marks, how could they think otherwise?

    Somerville is well-intentioned but completely in the wrong here. Corporations must act this way to protect themselves and I believe they're well within their rights here.

    Couldn't Somerville have found another way to provide the listings without the "cloning" approach? Maybe even a protest site that would drive Odeon to comply?

    And, instead of looking mean-spirited to those (most people) who not understand corporate liabilities, etc., couldn't Odeon have just gotten the damn thing done right on their own?

    Sheesh, what a lot of wasted angst on all sides.

    In some ways, this is similar those situations where unbidden third parties submit ideas or scripts or spec ads to large companies and get sore because the company won't even read them. But the company is just protecting itself from future lawsuits when, even though they come up with an idea themselves, a bunch of knuckle-heads pipe up with "hey. I gave them that idea!"
    • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:36PM (#9700741) Homepage Journal
      Somerville is well-intentioned but completely in the wrong here. Corporations must act this way to protect themselves and I believe they're well within their rights here.

      This is incorrect. Companies do not need to enforce copyrights or patents, only trademarks.
      • If they are a public company with shareholders they pretty much need to enforce any IP unless they can prove that enforcing it would not be in the best interest of the company.

        I would also point out that you only need to protect your trademark if it is being used in commerce which is not the case here. That is, of course, in the US. Not sure how things differ in the UK.
      • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:50PM (#9700903)
        This is incorrect. Companies do not need to enforce copyrights or patents, only trademarks.
        He didn't say that they were in danger of losing their copyrighted material, which is presumably what you're referring to. He said "Corporations must act this way to protect themselves," which is a more general statement, and can be true for copyright infringement as well.

        Furthermore, the e-mail to Somerville says [],

        "Also, by using the registered trade marks "ODEON" and "ODEON Fanatical About Film" on your website, our customers have mistakenly thought that your website was either associated with or endorsed by Odeon."
        So there is a trademark issue here after all.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because it said quite clearly on every page: "This is not the official odeon website", and many pages also mentioned that you weren't able to book via that site. (In fact, I think the front page did as well)
      If people aren't capable of reading the actual page, they really shouldn't be complaining that they're stupid enough to submit personal details to a site that quite clearly isn't official.

      I'm quite annoyed by the closure of this site, because I used it fairly regularly to check showing times and release
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "People are essentially misled into giving personal info"

      Per the developers comments in the emails on the page, my understanding was that the 'copycat' site did not collect any info at all, despite what Odeon was saying. I think the copycat site uses Odeon's own functions to put the data straight into Odeon's databases...
    • by SpyPlane ( 733043 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:55PM (#9700963)
      "People are essentially misled into giving personal info and, since Somerville is using Odeon's marks, how could they think otherwise?"

      How do you figure they were misled? Did you even read the emails? As Somerville noted in his email, the information that people submitted to his website was simply passed directly to Odeon's website. So if submitters thought their data was going to Odeon's site, they were correct. I don't see how they were misled.

      • by lazyl ( 619939 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:52PM (#9702063)
        How do you figure they were misled? Did you even read the emails? As Somerville noted in his email, the information that people submitted to his website was simply passed directly to Odeon's website. So if submitters thought their data was going to Odeon's site, they were correct. I don't see how they were misled.

        Because they thought they were interacting directly with the Odeon site but they weren't. It doesn't matter if he just transparently passes the data, he's still misrepresenting his site.

        The problem is that Odeon has no control over what he does. If there is a problem with his site or he screws up the customer's data, then they will think it was Odeon's fault. Even if his intentions are good, and everything seems to work find right now, it is still a dangerous liability for the company. Absolutly they have to shut him down. Or force him to make it absolutly clear to his visitors that his site is not affiliated with Odeon.
    • by nacturation ( 646836 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (noitarutcan)> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:55PM (#9700967) Journal
      What he should do is instead change the site with nothing but an explanation telling people to complain to whatever authority controls the disabilities act. If Odeon is in violation, then what would a thousand phone calls to the "Disabilities Department" (or whatever it's called) do? Maybe get a big fine levied and a court order to make their site compatible within X weeks.

      Odeon wants to use the law? Fine. Use it right back.
    • Open & Shut (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mfh ( 56 )
      > I appreciate Somerville's (apparently) noble motivations and Odeon's non-compatibility is certainly a problem, but how can you argue with their logic?

      No. I can't. That's why they own trademarks, so they can control content. Now if Odeon was smart, they would simply fire off an RSS feed and let the guy fucking well spider it. Am I right or what?
    • At least in the US a company has to protect its trademark, or they loose it. But an alternative that most companies never use is to license their trademark. Then another company can use their trademark and be officially licensed. We see officially licensed merchandise all the time.

      Most likely what happened is Odeon got a new lawyer, or they had an audit. It was pointed out that they cannot have someone else using their trademark so they sent a letter. Even if the president of Odeon uses the site and

  • Should've hired him (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mroch ( 715318 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:31PM (#9700663)
    It seems like the negative press could be more costly than just buying the fixed layout off of him, or even hiring him to replace their (incompetent) web design staff...
  • So What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dan_sdot ( 721837 ) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:32PM (#9700683)
    Why is this a big deal? I read the 2 emails from Odeon and the one sent to them, and I don't see why Odeon is being outragous in asking them to take down the site.
    Sure, their site should work in other browsers, but that is not the issue.
    The issue is that some guy is tricking people into submitting info to his site instead of the Odeon site like they think that they are. Maybe he collects the data before he sends it to Odeon, maybe he doesn't like he says. I don't know him, and thats not even the issue.
    I can very well understand why a company does not want someone they don't know collecting their customers information in their name. What if they guy ends up getting caught selling all these names to spammers one day? Then Odeon would really look stupid for not taking action against the guy.
    • Re:So What...? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc ( 621217 )
      The problem is there site is not just browser prejudiced.

      It was also in violation of the Law.

      His site is both browser compliant and legal.

      Odeon should have had their site legally shut down until it was compliant with the law, just as the guy should have had his site shut down because it was in violation of Odeon's rights.

      But the guy was a programer, not a lawyer, so this is what happened.

      • Whats your point? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dan_sdot ( 721837 ) *
        Ok, so whats your point? That is another non-issue. Yes, they are braking the law. I hope that the UK govenment cracks down on them. Anyways... back to the topic of discussion... This guy with the copycat website is not some kind of vigilante of the internet. His job is not to take the law into his own hands, especially if it involves stepping on some company's rights and some people's rights (the people being those who submit data unknowingly to his site). I bet the guy is very well intentioned, but he
        • Re:Whats your point? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by garcia ( 6573 ) *
          back to the topic of discussion... This guy with the copycat website is not some kind of vigilante of the internet. His job is not to take the law into his own hands, especially if it involves stepping on some company's rights and some people's rights (the people being those who submit data unknowingly to his site). I bet the guy is very well intentioned, but he needs to get real. If he is worried about this that much, he should find a legitimite solution to the problem.

          I think that the "vigilante" got wh
        • Sorry... I stopped reading after this:

          "Yes, they are braking the law"


    • Re:So What...? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tonyr60 ( 32153 ) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:52PM (#9700919)
      "The issue is that some guy is tricking people into submitting info to his site instead of the Odeon site"

      How did he trick them? The url for his accessable site clearly was part of his own site. If someone was using his Odeon page it was because they had deliberately gone there because they wanted an accessable site. Likely some disabled (or enabled if they used Mozilla) wanted to book a movie seat, but could not until their friend or what ever said "try Matthew Somerville's site, it has an accessable copy of the Odeon site".

      If he had spoofed the address, or used a Microsoft "feature" to silently link to his site that would have been trickery.
    • Re:So What...? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MatthewSomerville ( 796981 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:31PM (#9701375) Homepage
      I was in no way "tricking people" - it was clear my site was not the official site, stating such on every single page.
  • Welll (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:32PM (#9700688) Journal
    IANAL, but 'letting people browse a website easier' doesn't trump 'copyright law' where I live. He (Somerville) is using their (Odeon) IP without their permission (now).

    So, why is this a bad thing? Yes their site may suck, but violating Copyright is violating Copyright no matter how you slice it.
    • No, but obeying the Disability Discrimation law DOES trump not obeying the law.

      Or are you just ignoring the fact that their site was also in violation of the Law?

      It sounds like you are willing to let a corporation sue to enforce the copy-right law but not allow programmers to make an effective complaint/statement about the corporation's illegal activities.

      You want to shut down the activist's site, fine, but also order the illegal Odeon site shut down.

      • Re:Welll (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MoneyT ( 548795 )
        No one is saying that the theater isn't wrong about having an inaccesable site, but that's not what is in question here, and if that's the problem, then a suit should have been brought.

        You don't protest a building not having a handicapped entrance by building a clone next door and moving everything from the original building into yours.
      • Re:Welll (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DaHat ( 247651 )
        No, but obeying the Disability Discrimation law DOES trump not obeying the law.

        So you are saying that it's ok to break the law when someone else has?

        I guess the next /. story we'll be hearing about is a software pirate being beaten to death by the programmers who wrote the app he stole.

        Another flaw of your argument is of who is doing the law breaking. Just because Odeon was breaking the law does not mean that Somerville has the right to break the law. Of course... I've heard similar logic with regards t
    • Re:Welll (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:44PM (#9700833) Journal
      I agree that you can't just use someone elses work because you want to, but there is another issue I am concerned with, this Disability Discrimination Act and how it is a violation to have a web site that isn't accessible to everyone.

      I see the logic in making your site as accessible to everyone, and much logic in forcing certain buildings to be accessible to those with disabilities, particularly Government buildings. But this "Act" would seem to make it illegal to make a site that is all flash, or accessible to Opera only, etc. It seems that it is in the webmaster's best interest to allow the widest audience to use the site, but I don't see how it is any government business how a private company codes its website. Frankly, its no one's business if I want to code my own site to be inaccessible to anyone I want. Even Microsoft won't let you update Windows automatically without IE, which is their right.

      This is a theatre chain, they should have the right to design their website as they see fit. Going online to view movie listings falls far short of the what any government should regulate. Should we pass a law that requires all websites (blogs, family home pages, theatres, slashdot, etc) to have every bit of text, including the html source, as audio, to make the site accessible to blind people?
      • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:01PM (#9701051) Homepage
        I agree that you can't just use someone elses work because you want to, but there is another issue I am concerned with, this Disability Discrimination Act and how it is a violation to have a web site that isn't accessible to everyone.

        Lots of people are spouting lots of FUD here. Of course the site should be assessable. But the Disabilities Act does not require anyone except government agencies and a few other select public service entities to have assessable web sites.

        And by the way, Slashdot and OSDN does not comply with the act either, so if there is going to be some mud slinging, by all means be fair about it!

        • I'm not sure about the British act, but the Americans with Disabilities Act does not mean every website must be accessible -- it means that equal consideration must be made for those who can't view it.

          Since many agencies and companys already have telephone hotlines, many of them forward the disabled to these lines rather than bother with the web guidelines. I assume Odeon has such a hotline (any self respecting theatre in the US would).

          Incidentally, the web guideliens are not that tough to follow, but th
      • Re:Welll (Score:5, Insightful)

        by magefile ( 776388 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:02PM (#9701072)
        Most pages are accessible to the blind, or mostly so. Screenreaders do text-to-speech quite well - but they are browsers themselves, and thus, since this site was only accessible with IE, blocked from Odeon's site.

        Furthermore, while I'm not familiar with UK law, I am quite familiar with US disabled rights laws (IANAL; I am disabled). "Reasonable accomodations" is the test in the US, and I assume something similar is the test in the UK; a site like Odeon's could easily (reasonably) been written in a more cross-browser fashion that would have allowed screenreaders to access it. A flash-only site might be flash-only for a reason, thus making HTML-only not a reasonable accomodation, and thus not legally required.
      • Re:Welll (Score:4, Funny)

        by red floyd ( 220712 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:16PM (#9701204)
        But this "Act" would seem to make it illegal to make a site that is all flash

        Seems to me that's an argument in favor of the Act.
  • Bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr Smidge ( 668120 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:34PM (#9700702) Homepage
    Odeon might get less of a grilling for us if they had ever actually bothered to do something to make their site work correctly.

    Apparently it doesn't even work correctly in MSIE most of the time, and I found the copycat site particularly useful in finding out times of films. I'd normally then book via phone.

    A message to Odeon: Fix the site, and maybe then you might have some reason to complain. But so far, since the copycat site:
    * Allows more people to look up film times.
    * Makes it easier for people to do the above.
    * Does not detract potential revenue away from Odeon itself. .. I can't think what they're smoking.

    Probably a bigwig who has no clue of the situation made this decision..
  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:34PM (#9700703) Homepage
    Let me save you the effort of expressing your angst! Just fill in the blanks!

    I am ___________ over this article!
    a. saddened
    b. outraged
    c. bleeding from my ass

    ___________ is once again treading on my rights, and I'm fed up with it!
    a. Microsoft
    b. SCO
    c. The RIAA
    d. The MPAA
    e. George W. Bush

    I am entitled to ___________
    a. free software,
    b. free music,
    c. free movies,
    d. other people's money,

    and should not have to risk being ___________
    a. thrown in jail!!
    b. held responsible for my actions!!
    c. called a terrorist, socialist or communist!!

    In this FREE (as in beer, er I mean SPEECH) country, I should be able to take comfort in knowing that ___________
    a. society will pay for my personal shortcomings.
    b. industry exists to provide me with stuff regardless of whether or not I can't afford it.
    c. the law doesn't apply to me.
    d. the United States answers to an organization comprised 2/3 of dictatorships.

    When will this tyranny end? We need to stand up and fight for a world where our children can ___________
    a. treat their parents and teachers as equals.
    b. learn that Christianity, and all who practice it are better off dead.
    c. watch clown porn from the comfort of the elementary school library.
    d. revel in the freedom of moral relativism.

    I for one am going to do my part TODAY by ___________
    a. writing an angry letter to my congressmen... yeah right!
    b. doing another J.
    c. living in my parents' basement in protest!
    d. post to inconsequential blogs like Slashdot.
    • I am outraged that you:

      A) think I am so predictable that 4 measly options will cover 99.999% of my reactions

      B) glossed over other important issues

      C) didn't fill in the blanks for me

      D) there is no D...

      Yep, B it is.
  • Pull out the data! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eeeeegon ( 71595 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:35PM (#9700715) Journal
    Why couldn't they parse the info pages (via an HTML ripper or something), pull out the information they want, and post that on their own site? No cloned pages, but the data's the same. And of course, the new pages would work in all browsers.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:35PM (#9700717)
    The original didn't work outside of IE on Windows and was in violation of the Disability Discrimination Act

    Well, I for one liked the original. I suffer from mental retardation you see, and as a result I only use and swear by Microsoft products. As a disabled person, I can testify that the original website worked perfectly.

    The new page on the other hand, which was aimed at open-minded people who used other, non-Microsoft browsers, was constantly reminding me of my disability and as such was totally discriminatory. And not just to me, but to all the disabled IT guys at Odeon also! I am so glad it's not accessible anymore, so I can go back to my comforting illusions.
  • I guess a lot of blind people regularly visit the website of a cinema-chain...

    I just wait for someone deaf to sue itms because they dont subtitle their songs...
    • Or you could realize that the Disabilities act protects people with problems besides total blindness. People can have bad color blindness, Farsightedness or dislexia and find it difficult to navigate a web site but still go to a movie.
  • I know this is an American website, but Odeon Cinemas is a chain of cinemas, not theatres (which are this marvellous new thing where actual real people act the story out in front of your eyes, no film involved!)

    Bloody yanks... ;-)
  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:36PM (#9700739) Homepage Journal
    That's the problem with these well-intentioned laws. When someone wants to flout them, the effort to correct the problem seems to be insurmountable. I'm sure there will be lawsuits and court orders and a whole bunch of people's productivity being sucked down a black hole (willingly or not), before this is said and done.

    The problem stems from the fact that in our society (modern Western democracies anyway), we are so buried in an avalanche of regulations that there is no way you can even be aware of them all, and when one that is particularly useful... such as a law requiring handicapped access, enforcement becomes infeasible because so much effort is being wasted to meet the utter explosion of bureaucratic requirements.

    We already work about half the year just to pay taxes, and when we can work for ourselves how big does the proportion of time we spend dealing with red tape have to be before people get fed up. We are being nickel-and-dimed into losing productivity. Meanwhile this Web site apparently ignores the law and it will probably be months or years before anything can be done about it because the people who could do something about it are too busy making sure that all government contractors are using 7/64" bevelled grommets instead of 3/32" bevelled grommets.

  • Marketing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Writer ( 746272 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:37PM (#9700750)

    The original site only allowed access to people using Internet Explorer and Windows and was in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act.

    Despite predictions when his site first went up that the lawyers' letters would arrive immediately Odeon Cinema initially welcomed the site - as did many disabled people who could access the site for the first time.

    But this all changed with the arrival of an email from Luke Vetere, marketing director at Odeon

    Brilliant marketing. Piss off and lock out a demographic. And there's nothing better to improve a company's image than screwing over disabled people and breaking the law. Odeon is really getting its money's worth hiring this moron.

  • Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bdigit ( 132070 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:39PM (#9700768)
    When will /. be getting a well needed HTML upgrade to XHTML 1.0 or 1.1? And have it fully validate?! I mean for crying out loud someone on did an article and rewrote slashdot as a completely standard website.. see the article [] and read more about it here []

    Look at the savings in bandwidth he calculated out.

    "Most Slashdot visitors would have the CSS file cached, so we could ballpark the daily savings at ~10 GB bandwidth. A high volume of bandwidth from an ISP could be anywhere from $1 - $5 cost per GB of transfer, but let's calculate it at $1 per GB for an entire year. For this example, the total savings for Slashdot would be: $3650! All of that for just a couple of KB."

    • by MooseByte ( 751829 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:35PM (#9701418)

      Seems unfair for the parent to be modded Offtopic.

      Plus he/she brings up a good point: For all the nitpicking that we all do about non-compliant websites, it seems reasonable that the premier website for nerdly matters should set the example and lead the way.
  • I have heard of the american disabilities act and such, to whom does it actually apply?

    Do all sites need to be accessible to the blind? If I write a small utility does it need to be screen-reader friendly? What is the threshold?

    Are there any good resources explaining exactly what is requried of different companies from a computing standpoint (brick and mortor info is all over the place)?

  • by surreal-maitland ( 711954 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:40PM (#9700787) Journal
    stupid people will be stupid. doing illegal things to try to change that situation is stupid. and illegal. thus you will make a futile (stupid) effort to make things better and get your ass sued by the people who are smarter than you but, nonetheless, stupid.
  • Someone should make a movie about this.
  • by grunt107 ( 739510 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:41PM (#9700797)
    to control their copyright/trademark objects.

    It is also the right of ALL disable people (or is that 'differently-abled' - whatever is not offensive) to sue Odeon for their violation.

    Sadly, it would be best if Odeon would just pay for the updated content that fixes their works, reference the creator, and everyone join in for a hootenanny!!!!
    • okay, yes, they have the *right* to sue, but they probably wouldn't be that successful. failing to provide a website which caters to disabled persons is not illegal. deliberately not providing the information is. nobody said that blind people couldn't call and ask for information.
  • site not working (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Janek Kozicki ( 722688 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:41PM (#9700805) Journal

    I'm writing this email, because I wanted to check odeon's cinema program. And I find out that I cannot access the website! It is obviously broken, the only thing I can see is a picture and nothing more.

    I hope that you will fix the site as fast as possible. Remember that by such a way you lose big number of customers.

    PS: I really would like to send to you this complaint (so you can be aware of this problem), but I can't. I cannot find your email address, because the site is not working.

  • That's fine... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alizarin Erythrosin ( 457981 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:42PM (#9700814)
    He should take the site down in compliance with their notice. Then he should report their site as a violation of that disability act, and offer to sell his compliant site layout to them at a "discount". That way they can pay out a small sum, have their rights, and a compliant site.

    Or they can just be bastards about the whole thing. IE on Windows only? Why the hell? Ohhh... I see... their shitty DHTML menus! OK. So, an experienced person can duplicate that in Flash in probably 10 minutes. Or, somebody experienced in cross-browser DHTML can make it work with Mozilla or Opera, or even the Mac IE. Whatever.

    Laziness at it's best. Why fix the site when we can pay lawyers more then it would cost fix it?
  • by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:44PM (#9700839) Homepage
    See the video of this story on
    NBC News [].
  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:48PM (#9700880)
    Every time someone orders a site down, it gets posted on Slashdot.

    Guess what - the sites go down.
  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:54PM (#9700955) Homepage Journal
    Maybe the blind can't see the movie, but at least they can buy tickets! Thank you Accessible Od*on!
  • Equitable Estoppel? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <1_ecrofhtrae>> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:03PM (#9701081) Journal
    IANAL, (especially in England) but I think he may have a defence based on equitable estoppel. It certainly applies in Canada and the US - not sure about England. But if they had previously supported him and suddenly did a 180, then he has recourse to fight it, and recoup his legal costs. pe l.htm

  • Odious! (Score:5, Informative)

    by kisrael ( 134664 ) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:08PM (#9701132) Homepage
    That Odeon site is pretty Odious...even beyond the retardation of requiring www. being prepended to the domain in the URL, it opens up to what looks like a giant banner ad...and NO OTHER CONTENT. Then when you read the instructions "Simply click this page to enter." (buried in some boilerplate looking text) you try clicking on the page. No dice, the text lied. So you click on the "ODEON" logo. Nope, that's not clickable either. You HAVE to click on the "FREE* Activision PC Game Sampler" to get anywhere.

    And that takes you to what looks like a circa-1997 splash page w/ a fuzzed out logo. (No further info on the spiderman offer) But that's the site...all the content is hidden in a series of 5 dropdown menus.

    And as if that's not bad enough, some of the menu items that "do something" besides open up a submenu have confusing *right* facing triangles, very similar at a glance to the left facing submenu indicators. But on mouse-over, they all get a lit up arrow pointing one way or the other.

    What a suck, suck, suck site, from every angle imaginable: usability, information flow, accessibility, content, graphics design...UGH! At the risk of hammering on my lame pun, they really DO put the Odeon back into Odious.
  • by stonecypher ( 118140 ) * <stonecypher@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:11PM (#9701154) Homepage Journal
    You know, I'm honestly fairly torn about this. On the one hand, accessability is important. On that same hand, what this person did was careful, thoughtful, did not diminish Odeon's business, did not consume any of Odeon's traffic or name recognition. He didn't sully the cinema's name; arguably, he repaired one of their problems, and moreover did something they were required to have done and which they failed to do.

    On the other hand, I would be furious if someone chose to replicate my website, for any reason, be it good or bad. Now, I know, corporations usually have their heads buried deep in the sand over handling issues like accessability which are seen as obscure and unimportant, much less accepting free help from the outside world, or "getting right on it" when someone notifies them of a problem. Moreover, it wouldn't at all surprise me that this guy actually needed an accessable version of the site; most people don't do things like this unless it matters to them personally, and a movie chain isn't the biggest PR getter if it's a question of getting the issue into the papers. Still, really, who does this guy think he is, choosing to take the corporation's name into his hands and do what he will with it, even if he's doing the right thing, doing a very good job of it, and from many perspectives should be being thanked right now?

    There was, once, a corporate tendency to Do The Right Thing. Back in the day, when a corporate problem or vulnerability was exposed, ignored, and fixed by an outsider, generally the corporation would turn around, fix it properly, and thank the watchdog, then find out the manager which had ignored the watchdog's pleas and put their job in jeopardy, and finally admonish the watchdog to speak with this other manager instead, who will listen instead of being a wall.

    Will Odeon do this? Well, that remains to be seen. Someone somewhere probably believes that this was a huge risk and brand dilution, probably hasn't even looked at the site and is ignoring that a good job was done of a task which needed to happen. Corporations no longer attempt to behave civilly; now they defend every red cent like it's the last one that would ever be made, and if there's a hair of a chance that maybe somehow this could have been bad if he had been swearing, then we'd better god damned well make an example out of the guy trying to do the right thing, so that nobody else tries to do the right thing.

    It would be appropriate for slashdotters in Britain, the US or Canada to call or write to Cineplex (depending on your nation, you may have to look for Lowe's Cineplex or Sony Theaters; they're all the same company.) It is spectactuarly difficult to track down a way to reach them, but the investor relations tab (as usual) has information that nobody else has.

    Cineplex executives [] and contact information [].

    If you feel strongly about web accessability or about corporations not lashing out for people trying to do the Right Thing for them by proxy, please consider placing a five minute phone call in this man's support.
  • Class action suit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:15PM (#9701203)
    If the site violates disability laws, then perhaps the disability activist should muster the troops and file suit against the cinema chain. I know some of you will flame this post citing it as a frivolous lawsuit, but you also need to take into account how many lawsuits have been filed in the US because someone didn't have adequate handicapped parking or a wheel chair accessible ramp, or a handicapped stall in teh restroom. I ask you if those lawsuits were frivolous. The case would never have to go to court, they could agree to drop the case should the cinema chain agree to alter it's site so that it were viewable through other browsers.
  • My email to odeon... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phil John ( 576633 ) <phil@webst a r> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @05:16PM (#9701207)

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I visited with Mozilla Firefox (a popular web browser) this week to book tickets for myself and 7 others to see Spider Man 2. Your site does not seem to work at all and I was thus forced to book tickets with one of your competitors (UGC Cinemas) who have the foresight to make their site work with other browsers and operating systems.

    I am a web developer myself and know first hand that it is not hard to produce 100% cross browser sites and respectfully suggest that if your web developers cannot do the same you should terminate their employment, they are patently unable to fulfil their job requirements.

    Your website also contravenes the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) which could leave your company open to possible civil action, not to mention bad publicity. I assume you would prefer to avoid this.

    Until this problem is resolved I will not be showing my patronage to Odeon cinemas and will recommend that my friends and acquaintances do the same.

    If I do not receive a satisfactory answer to this email I will also be passing a complaint to the relevant authorities regarding the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) infractions.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Phil John.

    Probably won't do any good but hey, if they want to lose customers fark em, UGC cinemas are normally better (bigger, beefier sound, comfier seats) anyway.
  • by X-wes ( 629917 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:55PM (#9702530)

    < [mailto]>

    Dear Sir or Madem:

    I attempted to visit the Odeon website at today. Unfortunately, I was not able to access your site. The problem that I experience is that I see a blank page with only the word Odeon visible. Upon consulting with other web users, I have found that you have repeatedly asked users to use Microsoft Internet Explorer to view your website. This represents a major problem for many of us.

    Some of us use operating systems that do not support Internet Explorer. Most users of non-Windows operating systems do not have access to a modern copy of Internet Explorer. Some of us rely on browsers other than Internet Explorer for web browsing due to accessibility features not present in Internet Explorer. Finally, using other web browsers is often more convenient; to inconvenience such a large user base with a request to change browsers is unlikely to be effective. In addition, the requests to close the accessible portal site Accessible ODEON previously at only increases the probability of overlooking your site completely.

    Due to the volume of previous E-mails requesting some level of accessibility from the ODEON website and support of alternative browsers, I believe you are already aware of the problem. However, I am writing as merely one more customer who is deeply concerned with this problem, and is unable to accept the current quality of your website. I trust I will be able to use your website sometime soon.

    Thank you in advance for your kind consideration and swift action.


    Copy Andpaste

  • by gdav ( 2540 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @08:26PM (#9702730)
    ...compared to the living hell of their telephone system. Easily the worst ever voice-call management site I have ever encountered.

    On the rare occasions where I am forced to use an Odeon these days, I tend to book my tickets by physically visting the cinema, talking to the nice students behind the counter (who have access to a decent and feature-filled UI, and can thus answer questions like "How busy is the 4:30 showing of Spiderman 2?"), and departing with my tickets physically in my hand.

    I will never again book an Odeon ticket over the net, because their system is broken. I will never again book Odeon tickets over their telephone system, because their system is broken.

    It pains me to say this, because ODEON is a big name in the history of British cinema & Art Deco architecture.

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat. -- Ambrose Bierce