Friday, August 15, 2008

Of Lawsuits and Press Releases

Over the past several weeks, I have been trying to sort out my feelings concerning the lawsuit Freedom Scientific has filed against GW Micro over placemarkers on the Internet. The foremost emotion I have experienced is sadness. It is not often that a press release from a screen reader developer makes me sad. Usually, I smile when a new release of a screen reader comes out. I eagerly await the myriad of demonstrations and interviews touting new features. Occasionally I smile when a screen reader developer sponsors audio description of a TV show or participates in an episode of Home Makeover. Sadness is an emotion I experience less frequently. I dread the day that Fox News does a short piece on two screen reader developers suing one another over a feature that makes using the Internet easier for blind people. Another emotion I have been experiencing is anger—anger that we even have to talk about this at all; anger that I even care about patent infringement and HTML tags; anger that support lists are spending more time belittling the competition than dealing with real questions concerning how to use their favorite screen reader.
The last emotion I have been experiencing lately is fear. The stakes are really high for all of us—the developers and the users alike. This is no game and it’s not a TV show where everything will turn out right in the end; it’s reality in the most brutal sense of the word.
Everyone reading this probably has an opinion regarding who should or who will win this lawsuit if it ever goes to court. I am no different. I would submit for your consideration, however, the possibility that, in the end, nobody will win. That, my friends, is a truly sobering thought.

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