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Originally posted July 13 2004 at 11:07 under Web. 4 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled.

Odeon Blackout


The Odeon cinemas in the UK have a website which is completly inaccessible unless you run IE. Further, should you have javascript turned off, you still can’t use it (even if you can use it, it’s horrible). It is in contravention of the UK’s Diasbility Discimination Act (try it in a text reader if you dare).
Now I don’t like Odeon cinemas anyway (maybe because I’ve never been in a “modern” one but those I’ve been in have been dingy with the leg room of a coffin). However, for others it may be the only choice. As a service to the public, and those who prefer a more secure browser, Matthew Somerville has run an accessible version which basically took the data from and made it work. Now Odeon have forced him to pull it. They threaten legal action, whilst happily breaking the law themselves. Their points about data privacy are particularly interesting as it was Matthew who pointed out three security bugs to them which were allowing private data to be publically accessible on their site.
Odeon have been promising to fix the problem for years. It’s even been fixed for them and they still can’t get it to work. Whatever “engineers” they keep refering too must be particularly incompetant.

This makes my blood boil.

Comments (4):


Odeon cinemas UK are actively shutting down the webpages of
disabled people in the UK. Any pages that mention or link
to the Odeon website are being targetted.
One disabled boy (Matthew Somerville) developed a special film
website for the disabled. It linked to Odeon UK as a courtesy
but they demanded it be shut down and taken from the web due
to illegal copyrights.

BASTARDS! And they are only targetting the disabled, not
normal people who can fight for themselves. That is why
we are sending this message…

It’s time to start an internet campaign, we must correct this
injustice! We demand the following…

b) Luke Veteres resignation
b) Odeon to publically apologise to the disabled boy
Mattew Somerville for their insulting behaviour.
c) Odeon to immediately fix their website so it works
with all browsers such as Mozilla (and all Gecko based),
Netscape 3/4, Safari, Lynx, HotJava, WebTV, Wap and Mosaic.

What should you do?
a) Mail Luke Vetere at and tell him he’s a
fucking bastard. A template letter might be

Dear Luke Vetere,
You are a fucking bastard. You have no right to shut down
the homepage of the disabled boy Matthew Somerville. I
demand you re upload his site immediately. Until you do
I will not visit Odeon cinemas UK

b) Send this mail to everybody you know (several times so they
get the message) and ask them to do the same

Together we can beat the bastards!

Made by Anonymous on Jul 20, 2004 at 18:56


Urm, as this is my blog, I suppose it’s my job to point out the inaccuracies in random comments. As this one’s quite bad (bad enough I considered simply removing it, but I’ll try to educate rather than censor), here goes:

Matthew is not (to the best of my knowledge) disabled himself. He is simply a talented we designer (well, actually he’s a mathematician, but hey) who became interested in accessibility due to trying to use an Acorn running RISC OS. As far as I am aware, one page of Matthew’s site (not his entire homepage) has been taken down due to requests from the Odeon’s lawyers. It didn’t simply mention or link the Odeon, but pulled data directly from their official website and rebuilt it in accessible form. It did indeed use the Odeon logos etc. without permission. That’s the lawyers’ point, which sadly misses the actual point by a mile.

I fail to understand why the disabled are not normal people, nor why they cannot fight for themselves. I am actually upset because the Odeon site doesn’t work in my browser of choice, regardless of any disability issues. That and the fact they’ve been promising to do something about it for years.

There are limits to what one can expect with browser compatibility, though good, clean and semantic code will probably be useable in pretty much everything.

I strongly suggest you don’t use the above template email. For a start, the president of Odeon cinemas can’t upload someone else’s web page. He could of course call off his lawyers.

Don’t send email to everyone you know, especially several times. Are you a spambot? Well then.

Together we can beat them. If we’re slightly sensible.

I’d post my own email to Odeon but I don’t seem to have kept a copy. I’m still to have a reply.

Made by Ian on Jul 20, 2004 at 18:57


I write here to inform you of the really quite shocking actions being
perpetuated by the UK cinema chain Odeon against a disabled Scottish
boy Matthew Somerville.

9 year old Matthew suffers from the rare, medically unknown condition
of “Shatner’s Palsy” which attacks unoxygenated body tissue. Doctors are
working hard on a cure, but admit the possibility of a fatal remission
within 70 years. Despite this, Matthew continues to brighten the lives
of everyone he meets.

Incredibly, despite having weak arms, he is still able to operate a
computer using a specially constructed input device, consisting of a
covered spherical ball and a pair of single-pole-single-throw latches.
Resting his disabled hand on the tool, any small movements are converted
to gigabyte digital input signals.

The disabled boy constructed a special film portal for the disabled.
It was very popular, receiving over 100 “hits” a month. Webmaster
experts based at Durham University examined his JavaScript code and
proclaimed it “fully polymorphic and 100% XML ready”

Despite this, Odeon cinemas have ordered him to “cease and desist”
using the recently enacted European Millennium Copyright Act (EMCA) to
copyright the notion of “film discussion” by a person and/or persons
“without full limb mobility”. They have demanded his website is put in
the Windows XP recycle bin, and insisted “It shall then be emptied”.
Unsurprisingly, the move has been supported by the Internet Knowledge
Enforcement Agency (IKEA).

This cannot be allowed to happen. The disabled should have almost as
many rights as normal people, at least with regard to discussing films.
Luckily for us, people power works, and that’s where you come in.

How can you help disabled boy Matthew Somerville?
a) Email Odeon customer support ( and tell them you are
boycotting their chain (Rocky 6 excepted) while they continue
their legal actions against disabled boys.
b) Email Odeon UK chairman Luke Vetere ( and insist
that the website be retrieved from the recycle bin, cleaned, and
uploaded back onto the UK internet web system using FTP packet protocols.
c) Email and post this message to everybody you know (several times), and
on every “blog” site you can find.
d) You can help Matthew in his separate quest to enter the “Guinness Book
of Records” with the record of “largest collection of cinema ticket
stubs”. Matthew is aiming for over a thousand. Send them, perhaps with
a letter of encouragement to

Matthew Somerville
Guinness Record Attempt
109 Eastern Drive

Remember, only by working together can we can beat an evil law, and
brighten the failing heart of a young disabled angel.

Made by FOR MATTHEW on Aug 21, 2004 at 01:09


I’m going to assume the last comment is tongue in cheek, otherwise I just give up…:-)

Made by Ian Scott on Aug 21, 2004 at 01:41

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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