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For Real?

Sometimes I take a wrong turn and end up in unexpected places. During on-line research the other day I must have typed either the wrong URL or hit the ENTER key too early – and landed on the website of Future Media Architects. Their tag line: “We’re changing the face of the Internet landscape.” The tag line, of course, registered as a Trade Mark, or at least marked as registered.

What a strange place it was. It was not apparent what business the company was in, and true to the first impression, it is only possible to contact them through an on-line form. There we are informed that

Since we are a true Internet entity we will not accept phone calls or other forms of snail mail.

I would not do business with anyone whose address and phone number are kept secret, but perhaps I’m old fashioned in this regard. It occurred to me that this information may be buried under LEGAL. So off I went. The Legal page had a link to a contract, and the page stated by accessing and using the site, I would be agreeing to be legally bound by the terms and conditions of the contract. Just above the contract button, another stern warning:

If you do not agree with all of the following terms and conditions, please do not use this Site.

INAL, but when a visitor arrives on the home page, isn’t that using the site? Who arrives on the legal page before any other parts of a website? My next thought: How can access be subject to a contract if these pages were published on the web and are accessible without password?

Oh well. I called up the “agreement,” 2,471 words of dense legal prose. Where a contract usually starts out by naming and describing the parties, no indication of who the people are, but there were a few gems such as this one:

Linking to the front page of the site may be done without permission. Linking to sub pages may not be done without permission.

For real? I thought this misinterpretation, from the early days of the web, of the inner workings of the World Wide Web had long since been abandoned. It is no coincidence that the WWW Consortium has a very strong opinion:

Any attempt to forbid the practice of deep linking is based on a misunderstanding of the technology, and threatens to undermine the functioning of the Web as a whole.

But then I found, finally, some indication of location:

This Agreement shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of Kuwait and all disputes shall be held in Kuwait.

I wonder what experience it was that persuaded the website owners to put a major chill on their visitors’ desire to explore the site – that is, if visitors were reading the legal stuff in the first place. But is there a connection to translation? Well, I found this sentence in the legal mumbo jumbo:

Our legal terms and conditions are only available in the English language.

How well the site is doing with other languages is evident when you click on the “Select Language” button and select “Deutsch.” I know from my childhood and Karl May‘s Old Shatterhand that for many, “Dutch” and “Deutsch” is the same. For Future Media Architects as well, it seems. Here is a potential client in dire need of a translator not called Google.

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