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 you have a blog 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
There are many forms of types of blog disclaimers and each of them represents a different legal purpose. Just as new laws are still being established regarding online transactions since the internet is a relatively new aspect of our society, so will there be constantly changing blog disclaimers or some new ones getting added every now and then.
For the most common examples, however, our post from last regarding examples of blog disclaimers should give you a good idea of what a blog disclaimer entails. Here’s a quoted example from the link; it’s about information on legal advice and how the readers should treat it:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
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:
This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.
Q: Heh. Did you get a talking to?
A: No, I haven’t. Hopefully I never will.
Q: Why are you doing this now?
A: 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!
This old goodie has generated 106 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. He also sprinkles a little sense of humor to the disclaimer. It 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.
Sadly (but understandably), most bloggers don’t make them like this anymore. Certain laws regarding libel, cyberbullying, and cyber crimes have been made to ensure the decency and responsibility in online anonymity. While “fun disclaimers” add personality to your blog, they can also invite misunderstandings, loopholes, and abuse especially when worded poorly.
They do work well in maintaining a clean and friendly comment section but should never be considered a stand-in for a site-wide disclaimer.
This brings us to a more refined and purposeful kind of disclaimer: the legal ones. They may be boring, but they get the job done and can help a blogger out in a pickle in the event that lawsuits get thrown around like hot potatoes.
The Legal Disclaimer
Usually, “legal” disclaimers, are those written by lawyers or for legal policy style blogs such as the one you can find in the US’ Small Business Administration disclaimer:
You are accessing a U.S. government information system, which includes:
-This computer network
-All computers connected to this network
-All devices and storage media attached to this network or to a computer on this network
This information system is provided for U.S. Government-authorized use only. Unauthorized or improper use of this system may result in civil and criminal penalties.
While not filled much with legalese, 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 legalese 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 constitute a relationship between the user and the attorney. This is serious coverage.
Just One Way Ticket is a travel blog which, while less formal, also covers content, comments, copyright, names and logos, images, and more, combining all policies into a disclaimer. Some interesting sections covered content, compensation for damages incurred for following the blogger’s advice, and a disclosure on the “commercial interest” of the blog:
The content used in this website are intellectual properties of www.JustOneWayTicket.com (a.k.a. Sabrina Iovino) unless otherwise stated. Unless otherwise noted, Sabrina Iovino is the legal copyright holder of the material on this website and it may not be used, reprinted, or published without my permission.
The majority of the images on this blog are taken by me. Additional, I also purchase stock images from Depositphotos.com. Occasionally, I also use copyright free images from Pixabay.com, Unsplash.com and Pexels.com.
If you would like to use any of the photos or text found in www.JustOneWayTicket.com, please contact me before with your intent and purpose. Obviously, please do not use any content without permission.
Meanwhile, in the very same disclaimer for the travel blog in question, the owner(s) give a tidbit of information regarding some income-generating tools and methods such as for affiliate links. It gives a certain amount of transparency to the visitors and the audience of the site which makes for a better relationship between the users and the owners.
Some of the links on JustOneWayTicket.com are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a small percentage of the sale if you make a purchase. I appreciate your support a lot, this helps to keep my website running. If you have questions about a product, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
All About Rules & Honesty
When all has been said and done, a disclaimer should typically be about how honest you want to be with your audience. You set your rules and preferences and do your best not to break them yourself. Some of these rules may be harsh or even antagonistic like a certain example from a blog called Whatever from John Scalzi:
Everything on the site is my opinion (except comments written by others, which are their opinions). I have strong opinions. At times, you may not agree with these opinions, or how I choose to express them. This is not my problem.
I make no claims as toward being even-handed, fair, or nice. I write what I want here. Your being offended is not a reason for me to stop writing as I choose.
I run this site as I please. You do not get a vote. If you try to suggest that you do, I may be rude to you.
See? Honesty. So you know what you’re getting into, to say the least. You can check out the rest of the blog to gauge whether it’s satirical or not. Meanwhile, you can still combine legalese with a cute personality when it comes to disclaimer like what My Happy Crazy Life did:
I don’t know where it came from, but the other day the thought popped into my head: I don’t have a disclaimer on my blog. Since one of my mottos is “better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it” I decided it was about time to get one.
I started my research with my friend, Google, which turned up a ton of resources to beg, borrow and steal from. As clever and humorous as some of the disclaimers are, I prefer to come up with my own material so I sat myself down with an extra-large caramel cappuccino, sugar-free with skim milk of course, and wrote my own. I’m not a lawyer and certainly don’t play one on TV so there are probably some points I’ve forgotten. If there are, I’m not responsible for them. I don’t take responsibility for much more than getting myself dressed in the morning.
The rest of that disclaimer talks about what the author is or isn’t responsible for. It’s a pretty good balance between the formal and the creative.
Now, if these less formal blogs managed to have their own disclaimers, then having your own should be no problem at all. To that end, you do need your own blog disclaimer whether it’s for legal purposes or to add more flavor to your website. At least now, you have a better idea of how to make your own.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.