U.S. Copyright Office: Use only the world’s most insecure browser to secure your copyright

“The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress has found itself in the middle of some heated online debate about a proposal to limit full use of a new copyright registration Web site to only one browser,” Joab Jackson reports for Government Computer Weekly. “Critics decry that the choice of the browser, Microsoft Internet Explorer, shuts out users of other less popular browsers and operating systems such as Linux and Apple Computer’s Macintosh. They allege that the agency is ignoring the World Wide Web Consortium’s standards for formatting Web sites in favor of designing the site with one vendor’s product in mind.”

Jackson reports, “The office says its browser choice is limited by the commercial software package it will be using to manage the registration system, as well as the time needed to test other browsers. Under the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, Congress mandated that the Copyright Office put a copyright preregistration system in place by Oct. 24. Additional browsers could not be tested in time for the initial rollout. ‘There was, and is, no intent to endorse a particular vendor. The office’s goal is to make the system available to everyone, and therefore to enable frequently used browsers,’ said Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyright.”

“To some extent, the outrage may be misplaced, as the Copyright Office is primarily interested in feedback from the individuals who will actually use the system in question. The system will limited to a select audience—namely, those individuals and companies who will be allowed to preregister a work before it is officially distributed, a small group still be determined by the office. Moviemakers, for instance, may want to copyright an expensive work in production long before it hits the theaters,” Jackson reports. “Also, reliance on Internet Explorer should be short-lived. The Copyright Office team plans to upgrade to a newer version of the Siebel software which supports other browsers such as Netscape 7.2., Firefox 1.0.3 and Mozilla 1.7.7. Peters said that even the present version of the Siebel software ‘may work well with other browsers,’ but the office has not tested other browsers with the software. ‘The office intends to test as many browsers as it can identify and make all possible adjustments in the code to facilitate use of them. It’s a question of resources,’ Peters added.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s a question of resources? What, you guys don’t have enough of our tax money? Obviously, it’s really a question of intelligence. Here’s an original thought for The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress – drop the Siebel software and use a product that also works with the type of browser and computer most likely to be found on moviemakers’ desks, on the set, and in their backpacks: Apple Macs using the Apple Safari browser. How’s that for efficient use of resources? Okay, now scurry back to your cubes and commission a study or twenty.

Why is the obvious problem, the limiting Siebel software, so important to The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress that it wants to force the people that the Office is supposed to serve to jump through hoops? Who picked the Siebel Software and why? How much did it cost? Who got paid and when? What did The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress know and when did they know it? And shouldn’t The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress be working to serve ALL of the people?

Contact the The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress (which interestingly works perfectly fine with Apple’s Safari borwser) here: http://www.copyright.gov/help/

Related MacDailyNews articles:
U.S. Copyright Office: is it okay if our new website only works with Internet Explorer? – August 11, 2005
Survey identifies strong demand for Macintosh and Firefox web conferencing support – August 11, 2005
Using Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger’s included fax capabiltes – July 22, 2005
Security report shows Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was unsafe for all but seven days of 2004 – March 22, 2005
Penn State’s IT Services recommends dumping Microsoft Internet Explorer immediately – December 09, 2004
Security expert: Don’t use Microsoft Windows, Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer – December 09, 2004
German Federal Office for Information Security: Internet users should ditch Internet Explorer – September 13, 2004
Web Standards Project: Abandon Microsoft Internet Explorer and ‘Browse Happy’ – August 25, 2004
Security expert: Microsoft Internet Explorer ‘just cannot be trusted, use alternate browser’ – July 02, 2004
Security firm warns of new Internet Explorer flaw, advises ‘use a different browser’ – July 01, 2004
Microsoft axes Internet Explorer for Mac – June 13, 2003


  1. I used to work for a company that bid for government contracts all the time. Any division of the government (customer) would publish a document stating the requirements and technical specifications for a product. Any company that desired the business had to provide what the government wanted in their bid. If their product didn’t match the customer requirements, the company had to include the costs of modification in their bid to make their product meet customer requirements. Furthermore, the bids are supposed to be competitive and secret between a minimum of three independent contractors.

    All the U.S. Copyright Office had to do was to include the requirement for any software to follow established internet standards – it’s that simple. If Siebel Software was hungry enough for the business, you bet they would make the effort. Either someone in the Copyright Office was asleep at the wheel, or someone deliberately wanted single web browser support.

  2. I am a web designer who strongly advocates W3C standards, but there’s not much to complain about here. The Copyright office is going to try and release on schedule and adopt better standards as they can.

    Yes it takes much more effort to embrace all browsers. No, Safari and Firefox do not support all JavaScript, CSS and other standards fully or equally, or without bugs of their own. Each has exceptions and require additional testing, debugging and programming resources.

    The people who are complaining here the most have not had to build a rock-solid and highly complex Web-based application. You can’t demand everything all the time, and No, the “government” doesn’t have unlimited funds for every endeavor.

    Pick your battles.

  3. It would have simply been a cost issue. Siebel would have quoted the lowest price to get the job done.

    I’d say that universal internet access was considered, but pushed to the “2nd phase” due to time restraints (a.k.a. we might actually get away without having to do it at all.)

    If you want to have a go at anyone, have a go at the vendors (Siebel in this case) for providing Microsoft-only based solutions, rather than more universal solutions.

  4. Had a lot to say, but decided against it. MDN viewers have a propensity to flame anyone who offers differing opinions or even someone offering a little understanding on the complexity of development and rollout of such magnitude. It’s far easier to cry “Microsoft Fanboy!!” than actually offering viable alternatives.

  5. Naraa Haras: I too design web pages. It is no harder to design to W3C standards that to design a product to IE-only. It’s as easy as not using a browser specific code, and checking your code against the W3C spec. Hell, W3C even provides a code verifier. There is NO EXCUSE for this. In fact, it’s a tip-off that the Siebel code is crap.

    Really good web designers have never designed for a specific browser; only the hack-coders have ever done this.

  6. Netscape? Yeah, I remember Netscape. I downloaded a lot of really good porn with Netscape. I think I also cruised some patent sites and stole a lot of useful information to save money on patented formulas for biomedical research, so I didn’t have to pay those companies that only rip off taxpayer dollars with their over-priced reagents. But never used IE to do anything.

  7. It’s a trick!

    You see software does not require IE to function, look at eBay or Amazon, they work just fine without depending upon IE specific features.

    Once this company deploys the IE only system, they will make demands of other browsers to support IE features, these other browsers call M$ and M$ tells them to go fsck themselves or charges them a outragous licensing fee.

    Look at Mac users, there is NO MORE IE FOR MAC’s, since Mac’s are heavily used to create material that requires copyrighting, how the heck are we supposed to use the system?

    I urge everyone to write and state that Mac users, who number over 25 million, will not be able to use the system because IE has been discontinued for Mac users and Apple provides the web browser.


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