Human-readable legalese

Reading from AskTog how lawyers are destroying usability of products, I found my way to OXO Terms of use (the link on AskTog is broken). It starts with this:

Wow! You actually came to this page. Our lawyer made us include it and made us use a precious button to get you here. At first, we thought he was being a real pain as usual. But then we read the page. What a Netawakening! It's really important stuff. We took the legalese the lawyer wrote and translated it into readable English. After all, we are in the business of making things easy. So be a smart nethead and read the stuff on this page. It could prevent you from hearing from our lawyer (he's big and ugly).

and ends with this:

If this all sounds kind of mean and undiplomatic, you should have seen what our lawyer gave to us in the first place. We had to remind the big lug that human torture and sacrifice was outlawed in the United States. Boy, did he look disappointed!

I bet most of you never had to stretch their interpersonal skills to work out some terms of use that would both satisfy the lawyers and be readable by your target audience (usually not lawyers themselves), and you don't know how lucky you are. I tried to do just that once, without even trying to test the sense of humor of our lawyers. What Oxo did is really something and is not only fun but quite smart, since it conveys a bit of their brand -- "we are in the business of making things easy" -- in a place where most companies let their lawyers exercise state-of-the-art paranoia in public.

No wonder why webmasters try to plant some humor elsewhere, like on 404 error pages. More on 404 Research Lab.

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