W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2007

Re: Small print is not a good idea Re: Namespace

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 22:32:45 -0700
Cc: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <C20FD9F8-3144-456D-BA38-C56EA8581229@apple.com>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>

On Jul 17, 2007, at 7:57 PM, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 03:10:48 +0100, Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au 
> > wrote:
>> Robert Burns wrote:
>>> For example, in the US (and maybe elsewhere) such legal wording is  
>>> not supposed to be presented in "small print" so it is a bit of a  
>>> misnomer.
>> Do you have any evidence/references to support that claim?
>> Copyright statements and other legal notices that typically occur  
>> at the end of web pages (the use cases for which this is intended)  
>> are quite often presented in a smaller font.
> I forget the reference, but last I checked (about 3 years ago I  
> think) your home state of NSW had legislation that set a minimum  
> size for text which could be considered to be included as a valid  
> part of any legal agreement. Specifically, any text smaller than  
> 10px could not be considered an enforceable clause.
> While it may be common to present this as small text, there is a  
> (sensible, IMHO) movement in the legal world to insist that small  
> print is not a good way to present legal information. Although it is  
> easily overcome by any modern browser, having to increase text  
> manually to read this information is an inducement to ignore it -  
> and the legal argument runs that if you are inducing people to  
> ignore something you cannot reasonably expect them later to have  
> read it.
> Reducing the size of text is also an accessibility issue - again,  
> not insuperable, but an annoyance.
> For these reasons, I would suggest deprecating small as an element  
> primarily concerned with presentation. If an element is needed to  
> cover legal and similar information then a better one should be  
> chosen. Given that in general such information covers large number  
> of pages at a time, the use of a link and metadata, such as the rel  
> attribute, seems much more sensible.

Copyright and trademark notices generally need to be on the page  
itself. They need to be visible but not distracting. A link is  
acceptable for things like a privacy policy. This is the small print  
at the bottom of apple.com:

   Copyright  2007 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.   Terms of Use |  
Privacy Policy
   Google, the Google logo, and Google Maps are trademarks of Google  
Inc.  2007 NAVTEQ. All rights reserved.

"Terms of Use" and "Privacy Policy" are links. The font is 10px. I  
think this is entirely appropriate, and would be a good use of the  
"small" element (currently it's just two <p> elements in a div with a  
special id).

Received on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 05:32:56 UTC

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