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and manifestation of the various memes running around my brain, and as such any thoughts and opinions expressed within out-of-date posts may not the same, nor even similar, to those I may hold today.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.
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.
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.