Search Results for ‘berkeley ada course’

A last laugh on ADA vs. Berkeley online courses?

Those free online course materials may be gone from the University of California, Berkeley, courtesy of a U.S. Deparment of Justice interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related statutes, but they’re not gone from the Internet: “20,000 Worldclass University Lectures Made Illegal, So We Irrevocably Mirrored Them” [LBRY] Won’t that infringe on a lot of copyrights? The site claims not: “The vast majority of the lectures are licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows attributed, non-commercial redistribution.” Earlier coverage here, here, here, and here.

As someone put it, it looks as if the internet recognizes ADA litigation as damage and routes around it.

The ADA takes Berkeley courses offline

Andrew Ferguson on the ADA-inflicted loss of one university’s public treasury of online course materials: “UC Berkeley, needless to say, is deeply involved in the disability rights movement and has gone to great lengths to keep it satisfied.” None of which did it any good facing off against activist groups and the U.S. Justice Department, so now thousands of free lectures and other materials are set to come down. And some historical perspective: “After the ADA the country was much less free but its rulers were much more pleased with themselves.” [Andrew Ferguson, Weekly Standard] More: Hans Bader/CEI, earlier.

Berkeley, facing accessibility demands, may take down free online course content

Advancing a trend we’ve been warning about, the University of California, Berkeley, said it may have to take down educational course content posted free online for the benefit of the public due to an ongoing conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice over whether it is obliged to accompany the content with expensive captioning and other technological assists to make it more accessible to disabled visitors. I’ve got a write-up at Cato. More: Robby Soave, Reason; Andrej Karpathy Twitter thread about withdrawal of computer science videos; earlier on web accessibility. And this tweet, from Prof. Sam Bagenstos responding to Soave’s article, represents the culmination of the entire civil rights model.

June 5 roundup

  • Why New York City can’t build new infrastructure at reasonable cost (“Every factor you look at is flawed the way the MTA does business, from the first step to the end.”) [Josh Barro]
  • “‘He’s finally getting his due.’ Serial ADA filer faces charges as store owners rejoice” [Sam Stanton, Sacramento Bee on tax charges against Scott Johnson, whose doings are often chronicled in this space] Flashback: vintage Sacramento billiards parlor Jointed Cue closes after being named in one of Johnson’s 1,000+ accessibility suits [Kellen Browning, Sacramento Bee last year]
  • “Four-Year Court Battle Between Deaf Advocates and Harvard Over Closed Captioning of Videos Proceeds to Discovery With Some Limitations” [Kristina M. Launey & Minh N. Vu, Seyfarth Shaw; earlier on takedown of Berkeley online courses]
  • More on copyright battle between state of Georgia and Carl Malamud over whether he can publish online the laws of Georgia with annotations commissioned and approved by the state under agreement with private publishers [Adam Liptak, New York Times; earlier]
  • Reviewing the harms of rent control: a view from Seattle [Kevin Schofield, SCC Insight]
  • California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) “imposes liability on cities that elect their representatives through an at-large system and have racially polarized voting.” Generous attorneys’ fee provisions have encouraged assembly-line filing of complaints [Federalist Society forum with J. Michael Connolly; Mark Plummer, LAist; Carolyn Schuk, Silicon Valley Voice (Sunnyvale); Robert Haugh, Santa Clara News Online]

NYC restaurant chain takes down website to avoid accessibility suits

I’ve warned that it’s going to make sense for many organizations to take down online content or even entire websites rather than spin the wheel on avoiding expensive web-accessibility suits under the ADA, and that the loss of free course content at Berkeley would be only the start. And now recently this from Lisa Fickenscher in the New York Post:

The Riese Organization owns dozens of restaurants in the Big Apple, but you won’t find a single Web site touting its franchises, including Pizza Hut, Nathan’s Famous and TGI Friday’s.

“I took down the Riese Web site after I heard lawyers are suing companies for Americans with Disability Act violations for not providing access for blind and deaf people,” Dennis Riese, CEO of the privately held real estate and restaurant company, told The Post.

Best of Overlawyered — March 2017

NYT on web accessibility suits

At the New York Times, Vivian Wang covers one of our regular topics around here, the wave of ADA lawsuits over website accessibility. Among the latest targets of these suits: colleges and universities.

Since January 2015, at least 751 lawsuits have been filed over the issue. The vast majority have focused on retailers and restaurants, according to a legal blog that tracks such suits.

A single plaintiff, however, has now sued eight New York-area colleges and universities, including Fordham University and Long Island University.

Some disability rights advocates, acknowledging the charges that some lawyers are just looking to cash in, have distanced themselves from the suits.

“We do not condone just filing a blizzard of lawsuits in order to get settlements. That’s not solving the underlying problem,” said Chris Danielson, public relations director for the National Federation of the Blind. His organization has pushed instead for clearer federal guidelines on web accessibility.

Relatedly, John Stossel covers Berkeley’s liability-driven removal of free public online course materials (“A third threat to free speech at University of California, Berkeley has led to more censorship than political rioters or college administrators. It’s the Americans with Disabilities Act.”). And while the vending machine case of Magee v. Coca-Cola Refreshments had raised hopes or fears in some quarters that the U.S. Supreme Court might seize on it to bring some much-needed clarity to the state of online accessibility law, the high court decided against taking the case and let stand a ruling against the blind plaintiff. [Emily Jed, Vending Times; more, Minh Vu]

Web accessibility advocates breaking through in court?

Recently the University of California, Berkeley, took down online lecture and course content that it had offered free to the public, rather than risk liability for not modifying them so as to be conveniently usable by members of the public with hearing, visual, or manual disabilities. Harvard and M.I.T. had already been sued on similar grounds.

Now imagine the Berkeley take-down times 10,000 — a world in which private commercial, educational, and non-profit entities alike have legal incentive to de-publish any web content they do not think bulletproof against claims of lack of ADA accessibility. That’s not just imagining. It’s the world we’re looking at as a number of federal courts, setting aside years-old precedent, have begun to accept plaintiffs’ arguments that the ADA applies broadly to the web. As freelance lawsuits against private defendants proliferate, the choice is plain: either act to stop this trend, or expect widening disruption and takedown of formerly free web content.

In a much noted June case against the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain, a federal court accepted the notion that the store could be sued under the ADA because its website was a “place” of public accommodation, like a brick and mortar store. As Frank Cruz-Alvarez and Rachel Canfield observe in a Washington Legal Foundation paper, “the court found that the website was ‘heavily integrated’ and a ‘gateway’ to the physical stores, notwithstanding that the website limits customer participation to acquiring in-store coupons, refilling existing prescriptions for in-store pick-up, and utilizing a store locator function.” Since then federal courts have ruled favorably on ADA-for-the-web claims in more than one other case, including a decision by Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York in a case against Blick Art Materials.

I’ve been warning for a long time that web accessibility has the potential to be one of the most damaging and onerous regulatory initiatives in memory. It’s true that with courts split on the issue there is a chance that at some point the U.S. Supreme Court will take a case allowing to resolve the uncertainty and — if we are lucky — uphold earlier precedents such as that in a 2002 case in which a court dismissed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines. In the mean time, entrepreneurial lawyers have been filing hundreds of lawsuits against local and national businesses over their websites, many of which settle for money out of court, and on the current momentum will soon be suing thousands more. Millions of existing web presences are uncompliant and easy targets for litigation. The real answer is for Congress to step in.

[cross-posted from Cato at Liberty]

April 26 roundup

  • FDA’s costly menu labeling rules set to begin enforcement May 5. Any hope of blocking them? [Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
  • “Justice Department Disability Demands Raise Serious Free Speech Issues” [Hans Bader, CEI, earlier on the Berkeley online course takedown]
  • Government shouldn’t be entitled to shut down recording of its officers in public places when it doesn’t interfere with law enforcement [Ilya Shapiro and Devin Watkins on Cato Institute brief in 9th Circuit case of Jacobson v. Department of Homeland Security]
  • I knew the late Leo Rosten a bit in 1990s NYC. Now Dan Klein has a fun paper on The Joys of Yiddish as an economics text [SSRN via David Henderson]
  • Many libertarians diagnose “crony capitalism” as a leading source of American ills. How good are their examples? [Arnold Kling]
  • Signs in India proclaiming who owns a given plot of land point to a vulnerability of legal system [Alex Tabarrok] “The Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People” [Tabarrok on this 2009 Open Magazine piece]

April 12 roundup

  • Judge denies motion to dismiss in Kentucky Trump rally violence suit, now try explaining what that means to some headline writers [Ken White, Popehat]
  • False liens, threats of “arrest” cited in indictment of eight Colorado sovereign citizens [Boulder Daily Camera]
  • How virtual reality (VR) may give rise to tort claims [2-part Volokh Conspiracy: first, second]
  • D.C. Circuit: no, the FCC can’t enable lawsuits over “unsolicited” faxes that recipients did in fact agree to [NFIB]
  • Economist seems glad free online Berkeley courses got saved; ADA fans in comment section urge his firing, call him felon [Alex Tabarrok, MargRev]
  • With one in four of all patent cases going to a single federal judge in east Texas, forum-shopping is a menace to judicial impartiality [Jonas Anderson, SSRN]