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I'm currently trying to include and render all the software licenses of products which are used by my software, a privacy policy and an impressum (necessary by German law; stating contact information). Now I've got some questions regarding the indentation and whitespace formatting as well as the displaying in general.

Often legal texts are already kind of preformatted. They are having a fixed width and word-wrapped paragraphs.

If I would display them in my software for several display devices (mobile phones/tablets/desktop pcs), the text field would word-wrap them again and lead to strange formatting (underful lines and too many line breaks).

  1. Am I allowed to undo the word-wrapping of all the texts and unindent them, as well as performing a new word-wrap on them?
  2. Do I have to make sure that it is readable for everyone on every device, and do I have to make sure that accessibility interfaces are used (e.g. for blind persons, which aren't even the target group of my software)?
  3. Do I have to make sure, that if my application wouldn't even start correctly on a device, that the user is able to start the application in an impossible, absurd, magic or religious way to ensure that he can read the legal texts or is it enough to state it on the website then?
  4. Do I have to make sure that the rendering of the licenses/privacy policy/impressum is performant (e.g. text rendering and refresh after scrolling takes less than a second)? I already have to include two external libraries with my software to display the texts, otherwise it would not be possible to display texts at all.

My location/nationality: Germany/German.

My distribution targets: Germany, UK, USA, maybe even some more but mainly countries with English as main language.

Kind regards,

Daniel

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I cannot speak for civil law systems (Germany) but in Common Law (UK, USA) systems the law looks at substance rather than form. So:

Am I allowed to undo the word-wrapping of all the texts and unindent them, as well as performing a new word-wrap on them?

Yes

Do I have to make sure that it is readable for everyone on every device, and do I have to make sure that accessibility interfaces are used (e.g. for blind persons, which aren't even the target group of my software)?

If they are licences (rather than contracts) they must simply be available; this does not mean universally available.

Do I have to make sure, that if my application wouldn't even start correctly on a device, that the user is able to start the application in an impossible, absurd, magic or religious way to ensure that he can read the legal texts or is it enough to state it on the website then?

It depends if you want the licences to be enforceable by you on the users or if you are simply complying with your disclosure obligations. See What if the user disagreed with the Terms of Service, but still registered on a website?.

Do I have to make sure that the rendering of the licenses/privacy policy/impressum is performant (e.g. text rendering and refresh after scrolling takes less than a second)? I already have to include two external libraries with my software to display the texts, otherwise it would not be possible to display texts at all.

No - make them wait if you want.

  • Thank you very much for your answer. I think in this case it doesn't differ much from Germany's law system. – DanielB Sep 8 '15 at 7:22

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