Does Your Blog Need a Disclaimer?

Filed as Features, Guides on October 1, 2007 9:11 am

Many of you have heard of disclosures, legal statements that disclose the fact that you are blogging to make money, and being paid to blog. What about disclaimers? Should your blog have a disclaimer? Does it need one?

A disclaimer is a statement that basically holds you, and all who blog on your blog, harmless from prosecution. Disclaimers can be placed in the footer or sidebar, if short, or on a Page with the link in your footer or sidebar, or even at the bottom of your blog posts or comments form.

Here are some examples.

Examples of Blog Disclaimers

WPThemesPlugins’s disclaimer is pretty basic and covers most of the protection a blog may need.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. wpthemesplugin.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Alex Barnett’s blog disclaimer is a little less formal and includes an update which covers an explanation about the chronological nature of blogs:

This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

(Updated May 29 2005): In addition, my thoughts and opinions change from time to time…I consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind. This weblog is intended to provide a semi-permanent point in time snapshot and manifestation of the various memes running around my brain, and as such any thoughts and opinions expressed within out-of-date posts may not the same, nor even similar, to those I may hold today.

The Fun and Amusing Blog Disclaimer

Matt Cutts disclaimer, you would think, would be fairly serious, with a little humor, and outline his responsibility, or not, as an employee of Google. It is all of those things:

I’m one of several Googlers who answer questions online and sometimes for the press. I usually handle questions about webmasters or SEO, so in those areas I’m more likely to make sense and less likely to say something stupid. If I post something here that you find helpful as you build or manage your web presence, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

At the bottom, he adds this wonderful answer to the question of why he created his blog disclaimer:

Just in case. If I say something stupid in the future, it’s better to be able to point out that the stupidity is mine, and mine alone. My stupidity! You can’t have it! :)

No doubt, it is this last sentence that has generated 107 comments on his disclaimer. Which begs the question, should your disclaimer be open to comments? Normally it isn’t, but in true Matt Cutts style, his is open to comment and discussion.

Scott Dockendorf has a very simple but fun disclaimer. I like it when a sense of humor is added to the disclaimer. It also covers his comments policy.

The information in this weblog is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights.

This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my opinion.

Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (abusive, profane, rude, or anonymous comments) – so keep it polite, please.

Another well-written, almost poetic disclaimer appears written by Chris Lott on Ruminate is lengthy and begins with:

This is a blog. That fact means nothing. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, a final archive of my writing, a sponsored publication, or the product of gatekeeping and editing. That does mean something…it means that while the ideas and thoughts are often vital and the product of a long gestational period, the writing itself is not. It is essentially as it came from the keyboard: spontaneous, unproofed, unrevised, and corrected afterward only when necessary to address mistakes that grossly effect the intent. Where such changes have been made they are explicitly noted…

It continues on for several paragraphs, adding this lovely phrase section:

It would be distinctly unwise – not to mention uncharitable – to play connect-the-dots with my physical life and work and my “life of the mind,” as scanty as either might be. My attitude at work, my reaction to ideas, your grade (good or bad), the length and tone of my discussion at the coffee pot, the intensity and duration of my lovemaking, the time it took for me to return your letter or email, and the quality and quantity of my response to you in any medium are probably not tied to anything you read here… at least not in a way that you will be able to confidently assume without sharing years of psychotherapy and the bills that come with it.

He sums it up with “I’m a human being and my blog reflects that humanity.” I err therefore I’m human, right? It’s fun when a disclaimer is legal but also fun to read. It matches the blogger’s style, too.

The Legal Disclaimer

I went hunting for some “legal” disclaimers, those written by lawyers or for legal policy style blogs and found Rutgers Business School Blog disclaimer:

The opinions expressed by the RBS Student Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Rutgers Business School or any employee thereof. Rutgers Business School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Student Bloggers.

While not filled with legaleeze, it’s simple deniability of responsibility for blog content and comments is nice. It’s easy to read and does the job.

The Intellectual Property Law Blog has all the legaleeze that would be appropriate with such a titled blog:

These Terms and Conditions of Use apply to you when you view, access or otherwise use the blog located at www.intellectualpropertylawblog.com (the “blog”). The blog is owned by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP (“Sheppard Mullin”). We grant you a nonexclusive, nontransferable, limited right to access, use and display the blog and the materials provided hereon, provided that you comply fully with these Terms and Conditions of Use.

It goes on to define no attorney-client relationships covering legal advice, privacy issues, copyright notice and limitations, commercial use of the content, service marks (trademarks and logos), links, prohibited actions (what you can and cannot do on the blog or with the blog’s content), email and other correspondence to and from the blog, limitation of damages…it covers all of the legal terms and policies, combining a comments policy, copyright policy, content policy, privacy policy, and more into their disclaimer.

At the bottom of the disclaimer page, and on the posts, is a footer that further covers “Attorney Advertising” policies, which reinforce the issue of legal advice within the blog doesn’t not constitute a relationship between the user and the attorney. This is serious coverage.

eNidhi India-Blog’s disclaimer is a numbered list that also covers content, comments, copyright, names and logos, images, and more, combining all policies into a disclaimer. Three interesting sections covered content, compensation for damages incurred for following the blogger’s advice, and a disclosure on the “commercial interest” of the blog:

7. While every caution has been taken to provide my readers with most accurate information and honest analysis, please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this blog. Author will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

8. Author may keep updating old posts on a regular basis and is not bound to explicitly state all corrections made…

9. The author doesn’t have commercial interest in blogging at this moment and may not accept invitations/requests of certain type which he deems inappropriate.

Tomorrow, I’ll cover tips on writing a blog disclaimer.

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  1. By pelf posted on October 1, 2007 at 10:21 am
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    Do all disclaimers work the same, regardless of whether they’re formal or not?

    Reply

  2. By Chris Lott posted on October 1, 2007 at 8:20 pm
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    Thanks for noticing my disclaimer– it was meant to have serious intent but with a lighthearted tone, and since I am a poet at heart…

    At any rate, disclaimers are so much about what a site *is not*… I am also working on a companion Manifesto regarding what my blog *is*, both of which will be linked to every entry.

    Reply

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  6. By Shrinidhi Hande posted on February 12, 2008 at 12:16 am
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    Thanks for referring my blog disclaimer…

    Reply

  7. By daniel posted on March 17, 2008 at 12:56 am
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    might as well write one…before somebody get upset with me :-)

    Reply

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  11. By Rashidee posted on September 29, 2008 at 2:06 am
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    thanks for the disclaimer list. I am writing a disclaimer at the moment for my new blog and hopefully I can cover important matters because right now in my country a fellow blogger has been charge for sedition (politically motivated) not because of what he has written but because of the comments posted by the visitors. It sucks so I better be prepared.

    Reply

  12. By N. Ottellin posted on April 18, 2009 at 8:02 am
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    Thanks so much for this. I felt that I needed a disclaimer for my opinion blog and was inspired and able to start customizing my own disclaimer.

    Reply

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  14. By Parag posted on June 4, 2009 at 9:44 pm
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    Hi,

    I am starting a blog which would act like a sharepoint to various interesting articles that I find. I am not much into expressing my own views as yet but would like start form sort of a respository for articles that I like.I would always provide the links to the original posts and would like to give the authors full credit of their work.
    Could someone suggest a suitable disclaimer.

    Regards
    P

    Reply

  15. Look What Is HappeningJuly 2, 2009 at 3:01 am
  16. By Abhishek posted on July 2, 2009 at 8:17 pm
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    Thnx for wonderful and informative post….really helped me a lot to start preparing my disclaimer

    Reply

  17. By Regie Rivera posted on July 15, 2009 at 7:02 pm
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    Those were so cool! A really great help for new blog owners like me. Thank you so much! :)

    Reply

  18. By Satya Prakash posted on October 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm
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    Very useful content.
    Lots of people have started visiting on my blog. It is good. I thought it is good to have a disclaimer also.
    I am preparing for my blog.

    Reply

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  20. By Mandee Widrick - Social Media Manager posted on August 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm
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    Good post. I am currently working on disclaimers for several of my blogs. I like the “fun” style so that’s what I’m going with, for sure!

    Mandee

    Reply

  21. c’s Blog Disclaimer « cDecember 27, 2010 at 8:54 am
  22. By Angelina posted on June 5, 2013 at 1:03 am
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    Yup it is necessary to have disclaimer at site, if you want to avoid any legal issues. As a blogger we always try our best to give right sort of information to user, but sometimes companies, people and business organization not feel comfortable with our facts. Therefore, it is always better to let them know that, it is my personal collection and whatever modifications are made depend upon my understanding.

    At least you have a piece of disclaimer to avoid any issue. Nice article though.

    Reply

  23. By wendy mccance posted on June 12, 2013 at 9:01 am
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    Thank you for putting together this article. As I am using sponsored posts on my site now, this information was incredibly valuable to me.

    Reply

  24. By Anil Trivandrum posted on December 11, 2013 at 4:14 am
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    Of course, you must have a disclaimer page.

    Reply

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