Working together for standards The Web Standards Project

About a year ago, UK web accessibility activist Matthew Somerville worked up an accessible, x-browser version of UK cinema chain Odeon’s web site. His work won acclaim from such disparate sources as the Guardian and snarky IT industry newsletter NTK. Even Odeon themselves seemed pleased, as they allowed Mr. Somerville to keep the site going as a public service.

Until now. Starting on the 22 of June, the increasingly appropriately named Odeon started sending Mr. Somerville strongly-worded emails threatening legal action for copyright infringement, among other things. The company insists they are acting in response to customer concerns about having submitted data to Mr. Somerville without realizing it, and also customer frustration at not being able to book tickets through Mr. Somerville’s site.

Odeon’s concerns about their customers’ personal data are well taken. However, if Odeon has received a significant number of complaints then a significant number of people have chosen an accessible, x-browser site over the mess of nested tables, invalid markup, alt-less images and only-works-in-IE/Win JavaScript that is the official site. Yet rather than fix their own site, Odeon has simply forced the accessible alternative off the web.

Apparently, some folks at Odeon think ignoring the desires of a significant number customers makes good business sense. I wonder if the company’s prospective buyers know this is the sort of company they’re bidding on?

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