W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > August 2008

Re: Flickr and alt

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 17:44:06 -0700
Cc: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>, Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>, James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, public-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <1CBBBA30-F864-4500-BF53-3283CA25AE02@apple.com>
To: Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd) <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>

On Aug 19, 2008, at 2:06 AM, Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd) wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> Flickr is one of many public sites featuring user-generated content  
>> that is mostly shared with friends and family, but which is mostly  
>> visible to the general public. In terms of our moral sensibilities  
>> about accessibility, it is more like a public bulletin board where  
>> anyone can put up a poster, than like the professional signage in a  
>> store or school.
> I do not use Flickr, but I do use Picasaweb, which I believe
> is analogous.  On Picasaweb, albums can be public or private.
> Would those who seek to differentiate between public and
> private facilities in terms of accessibility therefore
> accept that a /public/ album is /public/, and must therefore
> meet all legal accessibility requirements ?

It's not individuals who seek to differentiate, but also the law. My  
best understanding is that US law on this includes two factors:

1) The facility in question is a public accommodation. This is a legal  
term of art, and doesn't just mean "open / visible to the public". For  
instance, posting a sign in my yard does not constitute a public  
accommodation, even if it is visible to the general public. But an  
apartment building could be, even if you have to live there to be in  
the building at all.

2) The responsible party is an institution such as a government or a  
large business - small businesses and individuals are excepted.

The way I see it, an individual posting a public photo on Flickr is  
neither creating a public accommodation, nor acting as an institution,  
in most cases. Nor is Flickr responsible, because they are just  
providing a public forum, in the same way that a grocery store might  
provide a public bulletin board.

I believe in this case, the law is properly aligned with the correct  
ethical result, which is that it ought not be mandatory for many  
private individuals to incur extra cost in money or time for the sake  
of accessibility, but it is mandatory for big businesses or governments.

Received on Wednesday, 20 August 2008 00:44:47 UTC

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