As I craft my title for this week, a Frank Sinatra song is playing earworm in my head.
Back in 2012, I participated in a lengthy exchange of emails with Jim Fructerman of Benetech.org about his organization taking print books and converting them into braille, or otherwise making them accessible to book lovers with reading disabilities. With hindsight, I should probably have put up a link on my two websites... at least to the version of Insufficient Mating Material that Benetech put out in accessible form. I'm pretty sure that I made an audio recording (freely available) of Mating Net, but I am not sure how easy it would be for a listener to find it.
Do authors really
need to worry about complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
It's something about which I've rather buried my head in metaphorical
sand. Does it make a difference whether or not an author sells books from her website?
Legal blogger Stuart K. Tubis of the law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler and Mitchell LLP explains the recently issued guidelines from the Department of Justice concerning website accessibility as it applies to state and local governments and businesses.
As Stuart K. Tubis explains:
"In the Guidance, the DOJ clarifies once again that the ADA applies to websites: “the Department’s longstanding interpretation of the general nondiscrimination and effective communication provisions applies to web accessibility.”
The Guidance also provides some examples of website accessibility barriers, including poor color contrast, lack of text alternatives for images, lack of labels for forms, and mouse-only navigation design.”
Unfortunately, as I see it, the DOJ may clarify that the ADA applies to websites, and it may give some examples of "barriers" that might offend, but it does not appear to set out whether or not single member LLCs and self publishing authors count as "businesses", or what exactly we minnows in the great writing pool might need to do to avoid falling foul of the ADA.
Another JMBM legal blogger, Martin H, Orlick, shares a great deal more information about ADA cases, and a horror story or two about alleged "serial plaintiffs" who are accused of filing thousands of ADA suits against small businesses including those owned by immigrants and minorities, with the apparent aim of exacting an average of $10,000 per business in settlements.
Legal bloggers Amy L. Bess and Mindy M. Wong of the international law firm Vedder Price offer five quick tips to help protect oneself from ADA-related litigation. They also lay out some disquieting statutory minimum fines for persons deemed to have violated the ADA.
Anyone who is a business entity, and who maintains a website should study the tips and discuss the issues with ones webmistress or webmaster... or weblover. Maybe, one should also discuss it with ones insurance agent or broker.
There is also a "bonus tip" which I think is a very good idea. It involves adding a "clickwrap agreement" to your website. They explain and give an example.
On an unhappier note, the always edifying, Angela Hoy of WritersWeekly shares a compelling blog by Emily Thompson: Three Common Reasons Why Freelancers Get Sued...
For those not on MUSO's radar (they are a British-based piracy-fighting company), MUSO has released a study of the most pirated films this month. Apparently, movie piracy is up 42.5% compared with a year ago. Of all things, "Sonic The Hedgehog" seems to be one of the most pirated movies of all, which might tell you something about parenting.
They don't try to explain why, but might there be a relationship between the losses of subscribers seen by legal streaming services and the increase in piracy?
Piracy is not a "victimless crime". Some subscription services cut off the "credits" after the big names have scrolled, but in all likelyhood, anyone on the credits, down to the key grips, boom assistants, and drivers rely at least in part on the royalties for their livelihoods.
I wonder whether pirate sites comply with the ADA, and if not, why not?
All the best