Xerox Strongly Urges You Not to Copy This Data
...but should you choose to anyway, make sure not to use Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

January 14, 2014


In my last post, I mentioned that I would be e-mailing Xerox about their absurd court system disclaimers. I sent a polite message to Xerox CEO Ursula Burns the same night that I wrote the post. It read:

Dear Ms. Burns,

I was a friend and colleague of Aaron Swartz, an internet activist who died one year ago on January 11, 2013. One of Aaron’s main interests was open access to public information.

It has come to my attention that Xerox is responsible, through its ACS division, for several court system web sites, including at least three in California. These sites presently bear extremely restrictive disclaimers prohibiting public use of public information, to the point of sheer absurdity. I’ve written a brief post about the issue, which you can find here:

I realize that this is something that ACS and then Xerox inherited from a string of corporate acquisitions, but I’d appreciate a response nonetheless. I am sure the public would appreciate Xerox acknowledging that it is allowed to use the information it already owns.



Ms. Burns received the message, and she forwarded it on to unknown others at Xerox. They too received the message. But apparently they didn't get it, because although a change was made, it wasn't quite what I was going for.



Essentially, Xerox took the time to examine the web sites referenced in my earlier post. Rather than address the issue, however, they instead added a giant red warning box informing users that their antiquated software is incompatible with all major web browsers except Internet Explorer, and left it at that. The new, additional disclaimer states, "The Fresno Superior Court is unable to ensure proper functionality with other browsers such as Firefox, Safari, and Chrome..." Somewhat confusingly, it goes on to say, "...and is not aware of any other browsers that retain their functionality in newer versions." The notice was last updated January 10, 2014, one day before my e-mail to Ms. Burns. But in actuality on January 10, 2014, the notice wasn't there.

Meanwhile, the disclaimer prohibiting public use of public information is still present and unchanged.

It almost goes without saying that contracts for government software are typically denominated in the millions of dollars. However much Systems and Computer Technology, Inc. was paid before it was acquired by ACS and then Xerox, it was apparently not enough for the site to function at a level where people might actually access it with a computer running common software.

This is obviously unacceptable, though it is possible that large corporations just move slowly. Still, the request at hand involves deleting extraneous and false legalese, which is hardly a difficult task. It's certainly not anywhere near as difficult as creating a web site that can work with at least one major non-Microsoft web browser.

If Xerox doesn't respond more fully in a few days, it will be time to consider next steps.

No comments have been added yet. Sign in to post a comment.

Issues Laws Cases Pro Articles Firms Entities
Issues Laws Cases Pro Articles Firms Entities
Sign Up
Need Password Help?