This nonsense has to stop!
I was testing a vendor’s webinar product today. I registered for an event and followed the attendee link to join the meeting. A small scrollbar box showed three sentences starting with an admonition in uppercase: “IMPORTANT – READ CAREFULLY:”
Notice that the scrollbar is too small to even use a thumb scroll to jump down farther in the text. All you can do is scroll a line at a time. The software prevented me from clicking the Join button unless I first signaled my acceptance of the text in the box.
Intrigued by what I was agreeing to, I scrolled farther. Sentence number three (still in uppercase) said “CUSTOMER IS ENCOURAGED TO PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND SAVE THEM FOR CUSTOMER'S RECORDS.”
Now that was a bit of a challenge. I could not use keyboard shortcuts to capture the text in the box and copy it. There was no button letting me copy, expand, or print the text. I finally copied the contents of the entire web page and edited out everything but the legal agreement contained in that box.
I pasted the agreement text into a Word document with standard 1-inch margins and chose a 10-point font. The agreement took up 13 pages. That’s right… 13 PAGES!
This is what my meeting attendees are supposed to agree to before they can see or hear any of my content? 13 pages of fine print having nothing to do with me or my company, but instead dealing with stipulations by my technology provider?
My response as a potential attendee is the same as my response as a potential customer of the web conferencing company. Thanks, but no thanks. I have neither the time nor the interest in reading and agreeing to your legal boilerplate. I can get my communications elsewhere.
Skimming through the agreement, I was amused to see that I was “prohibited from purchasing from any internet search engine provider the following keywords: <…> or any phrase or combination containing these keywords.”
Not only are they trying to restrict my choice of internet search advertising phrases, but they even had a typo in one of the keywords, effectively stopping me from using a keyword reserved by another brand name in another industry altogether!
The vast majority of the legal text applied to me only as a purchaser and user of the software in meeting host capacity. It talked about my requirements to pay on time, etc, etc. None of which applies to my meeting attendees.
Legal notices like this are lazy and harmful to the normal flow of business. And unless I miss my guess (I’m no lawyer), they are probably unenforceable in a court of law, given the unreasonableness of display, use, and improper terminology.
Stop the madness!