Inaccessible, trademark infringing and on the Web

Cinematic madness engulfs mail bag

Letters Upset abounds this week. Warner Brothers' attempts to claim ownership of the word 'Shire' certainly stung some of you into action. But we'll get to that once we've had a glimpse into the mind of the technically able cinema goer. Yes, we're talking about Odeon's website:

Congratulations for pointing the finger at Odeon Cinemas. I've stopped going to them, even though are the closest cinema to me because I can't navigate their site. I may be in the minority of web users but if they can't be bothered to provide a navigable site I can't be bothered to visit their cinema. I'd complain to them if their site gave me anything other than a backdrop saying Odeon.


While I agree with much of the sentiment of your article, I'm not sure you can say that websites "breach the DDA".

As far as I understand it, the DDA requires information to be made available in some form accessible to the disabled wherever it is reasonably practical to do so. It does not mean that every medium of communication should be accessible. If the information is available by other disabled-accessible routes (telephone, large print, braille....) then the requirements of the DDA are met even if your website consists entirely of red-on-green flashing morse code.

In many cases, having an accessible website is the cheapest route to DDA compliance for the organisation concerned, but it is the organisation that has to comply, not the website...

Tim Dixon

Silly Odeon.

But the real question is, why is the Odeon web site so amazingly BAD?

I've tried to use it over the months and it is possibly the worst I've ever seen.

I just did a quick recheck of and all I can see today is a fuzzy image of the word Odeon on a black background. The page source suggests that they are using broken JavaScript but I don't really care to investigate.

What kind of digbats approved this garbage in the first place? Didn't anybody actually think out the purpose of an Odeon web site before hiring a web designer?

Here's a clue guys, if I'm looking for the film schedule for an Odeon cinema I'M ALREADY SOLD ON THE IDEA OF WATCHING A MOVIE IN AN ODEON CINEMA. Everything you do to make that more difficult makes it more likely I will go elsewhere!


The "we are constantly upgrading our website" is a load of bolloneys. The Odeon website has been broken for more than 3 years, and fixes provided to Odeon for 2 years. Shameful.

Bastien Nocera

I'll state the obvious: Odeon is being odious. I hope someone who is "disabled" takes them to task - and to court.


Please, please, please can we get the contact details for this Luke fellow from Odeon so we can mail him asking him to change the Odeon website.

Having said that, the advert screened at Odeon cinemas advertising the website always elicits laughter from somewhere in the audience which I suppose at least allows us Linux users to bond with each other...


Too right. I've often wondered if I could sue for how bad the Odeon site is. It's far and away the worst site I use on a regular basis.

Julian Birch

Instead of embracing in a copyright violation and trademark violation (yes, they are actually two diferent areas of law), the author of the copycat site should have made pressure to Odeon for the site to be legal.

A failure to do that in a timely way (acording to the courts), would mean the payment of whatever the courts find ok as a deterrent...

Cheers, Luis Ferro Portugal

Phew. Now, as promised, back to that story about Warner Brothers and the Shire. Or all the Shires. Yes, all of them. Come on now, hand them over.

I was raised in the Shirehampton area of Bristol, the name of which is commonly shortened to `Shire' (pronounced disyllabically as `shiyer' by the locals). The area was settled by the Romans, and has existed as a village for several centuries.

A monthly community paper `The Shire' has been published there since 1972. See Do they now need Warner Bros permission to continue publishing?

will adams

Excellent coverage of this outrageous attempt to intimidate a domain owner. I think your argument could have been enhanced even further by pointing out some of the other "shire" domain names out there, too. For example,, owned by Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc,, a Boston, MA, rock band,, belonging to the Shire Horse Society, shirecruisers, a canal boat hire in Yorkshire,,, shireinn,com, a B&B in Vermont,, a Utah-based ISP, and, a Land Rover club. Interestingly appears to be available.

Mark Haas

Hi Kieren

Thought you might be interested (or inundated!) to know that here in Malawi (Africa), our main source of hydro-electic power comes from the SHIRE River that runs from Lake Malawi to the Zambezi River.

I believe it was named by David Livingstone or some such explorer. He certainly travelled it during his explorations and the City of Blantyre (named after Livingstone's birthplace) hosts the Shire Highlands Hotel. I trust that these names are also not under threat from WB.

Regards Dave Smith, Blantyre Malawi.

I was an active member of the Tolkien Society at the time of the first film, produced by Bakshi, and there were a few problems in those days.

Briefly, the Saul Zaentz operation, which has traded as Tolkien Enterprises, is totally different from the Tolkien Estate.

However, I have never heard of any troubles arising from the existence of the village of Bag Enderby, in Lincolnshire. Or, for that matter, Wetwang in Yorkshire. I'm not even sure that a trademark on "shire" would stand up under UK law.


I have just read your story regarding Warner brothers. As my name also contains the offending word and I have a web site does this mean I am likely to hear from their lawyers especially as I am a fan of Tolkien and have a page on my site dedicated to him.


Steve Brokenshire CCNA MBCS

Steve, you may have to give up not just your site, but your entire family history, and possibly any pets you have too.

Onward. To Mexican attempts to use RFID tags to keep track of government employees, and small children:

At the end of your article you say that 'mercifully' the 11 year old child did not get chipped. If the chip in as ineffectual as you would believe, why would it be such a travesty to do this. And if it DOES work, why would you get bent because a father knows the location of his child? Do you envision child-restraining seats as some sort child oppression as well?

Regards, Brad

Sounds like bullshit to me.

1) No implanted chip is going to have enough power to allow remote tracking after a kidnapping. RFID-like chips are useless for tracking. Unless there's also a 1-kilo lithium battery implant, the signal would go nowhere....

2) Authentication benefits from an implanted token are meager compared to those of conventional authentication techniques.

3) Surely no government official would be so stupid as to submit to such a ridiculous procedure.

4) This is so flat-out stupid it must be a prank.

Laurence Brothers

If we can venture, only briefly, into a more serious arena, we noted some interesting thoughts floating around about security holes in Internet Explorer and Microsoft's subsequent patching efforts:

According to your article, Secunia states:

"We recommend our customers to use another browser for general web surfing and to limit their use of IE to trusted websites where its functionality is required, such as banking websites."

In other words, please use more secure browsers for your non-sensitive browsing needs, but for your most sensitive data, you will probably need to drop your security level by using an insecure browser with several known security holes.

Several banking websites currently say that they only support IE; is there a potential liability issue here?

"Well, m'lud. My client usually uses a nice secure browser, but was required by the defendant to open himself up to known security risks. That is why all his money is now in the hands of [riffle, riffle] a Brazilian 'Transgendered Personal Services Consultant' who apparently calls himself Loretta. My client wants his money back, and then some. Call it a round million and I'll see you on the golf course at three. Next!"

Any chance that the banks will flip-flop into a "use anything except IE" policy?


Sticking with the serious theme for another letter (just one, we promise) we heard from another person at El Beeb about the recent sale of the technology division to Siemens.

A response to my colleague who feels it unrepresentative to state that BBCT staff are unhappy... He's right. We're not. We're annoyed, steaming furious, absolutely incensed that the BBC (or indeed any other company) should treat its staff that way. Siemens was not a reason to be happy, they were merely the least worst of the options available.

Which is not to belittle Siemens - a reputable company for whom - in another context - I would be most pleased to work. But call me old-fashioned... Apparently my lords and masters have failed to note a difference between 'working for the BBC' and 'working *in* the BBC'. If I wanted to work for Siemens, I'd have applied for a job there.

Many of the BBCT staff have worked in the BBC for many years; of my immediate colleagues one will be taking early retirement rather than transfer and another is less than amused having turned down higher paying employment elsewhere to work *for* the BBC. Many of us are actively hoping that there will be early opportunities for redundancies - though we don't expect them to be on as good terms as from the BBC.

Another point - do you realise that according to John Varney - BBC Chief Technology Officer - 'technology is not a BBC core activity'. Reassuring, huh?

My colleague is right - we're not unhappy. It's far too mild a word.


Name supplied

Next up, and slightly less seriously, we reported on an ever present, but overlooked threat to corporate data security. From the feedback we got on this one, it was clear we had struck a chord:

I was both fascinated and shocked by the revelations in the article 'Your data is at risk - from everything' - scary stuff indeed.

I believe you omitted other ways for employees to steal information. For example, I recently did some research into 'Epidermal Storage Mechanisms'. If you were worried by recent reports relating to Microsoft patenting skin as a power conduit your blood will run cold once I have enlightened you on Epidermal Storage Mechanisms (ESM)....

I like to consider myself part of the White Hat community and tend to back full disclosure and openness. I do worry, however, that by giving - even the scantest - information about ESM I will be jeopardising the confidentiality of 3-D data structures across the globe. Balanced against this is the fact that people need to know and they need to be afraid!!!

My research has shown that it would be possible for data thieves to steal data represented by 3-D data structures - such as documents written in Braille. To do this the miscreant would press a part of his or her epidermis against the 3-D data structure for a few moments. By the miracle of subcutaneous deformation a representation of the data would be rendered on the scum's epidermal tissue in a way not entirely dissimilar to a photographic negative. Furthermore, and worryingly for forensic investigators, this method of data theft is temporary - it gives the thief just enough time to have a very small chance of finding a blind passer-by that can read inverted and back-to-front Braille.

(The method can also theoretically be utilised by formations of thieves on copyrighted material such as McDonalds signs and raised type billboards.)

I found out about this data transfer technology after a particularly refreshing lunchtime visit to a nearby watering hole soon after which I became consciously challenged. On waking up I went to run my head under a tap and glanced in the mirror. Starring at my face through rheumy eye's, I realised that the imprint of my keyboard on my visage would maybe have potentially devastation consequences for data confidentiality given the right circumstances.

By spreading the fear of ESM does this make me a terrorist?

Name Supplied

P.S. If you post this, please don't print my email address or name - they'll never believe I wrote it in my lunch hour.

Thank you for providing some much-needed perspective and humour on the topic of "Data At Risk." It *does* seem as if some people are taking things a little too far. I've felt this way for a while.

*My* pet peeve on this issue is that organizations think nothing of hiring contractors into positions that expose them to business-critical functions and intellectual capital . . . or, even worse, *outsource* business-critical functions (like application development and system operation), but get indigestion when someone brings a camera phone to work with them.

In the case of hiring contractors or outsourcers, at the end of the contract, all of the undocumented intellectual capital and knowledge of "how we got to where we are today" vaporizes with the contract. We all know how frequently and how well that documentation is done. Worse, still, contracts are with companies, not individuals, and individuals may or may not stay "on the contract" for its entire duration.

So, basically, organizations are paying others to acquire business-critical information about them so that they can take it with them when they leave.

As Andy Rooney says: "Why is that?"


George Capehart

"the truth serum "beer"."??? I think not. The "things you shouldn't have said" serum, absolutely, but not necessarily truth. The trick is discerning the things that shouldn't have been said because they are true - "Sshh, don't tell anyone but our net Income this year will be much lower than forecast" from those that shouldn't have been said because they are untrue "Yes, absolutely, I am on the board of directors..." using the tell tale signs, such as "..and before that I was in the SAS.."

Keith Meldrum

Your compelling article "Your data is at risk - from everything" is very potent. I myself have come across pencils once or twice, and in fact have heard about cameras although never seen them in action. I do believe that you may have been negligent in failing to report on the existence of "write-once" methods to steal data, commonly called "pens." This limitation is irrelevant in that data must only be stolen once.

Hopefully, you will update this article, which I would love if you were to call "Data at risk remembered, promptly forgotten for security reasons."


I am appalled! Outsourcing is NOT the answer, and I am offended that you would even suggest it. We all know that if a company was to give sensitive information like that to an outsourced worker it would definitively end up in the hands of TERRORISTS.

The obvious answer is to just not tell your employees ANYTHING. Believe me, I have worked for these sorts of security-concious companies in the past and noone EVER stole their IP. In fact, noone tried to steal it even AFTER it became a product.

So, to recap: information-sharing is bad; keeping your employees clueless is good (it is also a good idea not to belong to the profit-sharing plan). Thank you for your time,

Happily Oblivious.

That's all folks. Have lovely weekends, y'all. ®

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