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Developing web site, forum and email disclaimers.

This being the age of increasing litigation, it is advisable for web site owners to have disclaimers posted on their sites, and to have them accessible from any other part of the site. 

It is unfortunate that we need to do this, but such is the nature of the beast. Internet Law varies from country to country as to what can be posted on disclaimer and privacy notices, but generally they should cover your terms of use regarding these points:

  • The quality of content of the site

  • The availability of services on your site to certain groups of people (e.g. age of visitors) or geographical locations 

  • Endorsement of links to other web sites. 

  • Make it clear that information on your site is for information purposes only and not intended to constitute professional advice as circumstances will vary from person to person. 

  • Clearly state your rights to reproduce or remove material uploaded or posted to your web site. 

  • That you are not liable to visitors for information posted to your Internet site. 

  • That others posting to your site cannot hold you responsible for any loss or damages arising from 
    supplying material.

  • That you are not liable for the actions of users of your website. 

Dependant on the type of website you have, it may be wise to not allow visitors to enter your site without their acceptance of terms and conditions of site usage. Only after they have indicated that they have read the "terms of use" and agree to them by clicking a button will they be allowed web site access.

Web site usage disclaimer example:

"Disclaimer. The information contained in this archive is provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind. The entire risk as to the results and the performance of the information is assumed by the user, and in no event shall YOUR COMPANY NAME be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages suffered in the course of using the information in this archive. Use of the information contained in this archive are governed by their respective license agreements and may contain restrictions on use."

Web site forum disclaimer example:

All messages made available as part of this discussion group (including any bulletin boards and chat rooms) and any opinions, advice, statements or other information contained in any messages posted or transmitted by any third party are the responsibility of the author of that message and not of YOUR COMPANY NAME (unless YOUR COMPANY NAME is specifically identified as the author of the message). The fact that a particular message is posted on or transmitted using this YOUR COMPANY NAME web site does not mean that YOUR COMPANY NAME has endorsed that message in any way or verified the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message. We encourage visitors to the forum to report any objectionable message to yourname@yourcompanyname.com. This forum is not monitored 24/7."

For information on developing privacy policies, view this article.

Email Disclaimers

With the general acceptance of email for business communications, it is becoming increasingly important that we represent and safeguard ourselves effectively in our emails. The proliferation of viruses has raised questions as to whether a company can be sued for sending another company an email with an infected attachment.

If you are managing a company with many employees; it is very difficult to keep tabs on the way your business is being represented online by your staff, and even more challenging is the issue of confidentiality. When we submit a web development draft proposal, we want to ensure that the design proposal is going to the right people and not being redistributed to competitors. The eight to twelve hours of unpaid work we put into a draft proposal is something that we try to protect.

A disclaimer notice at the bottom of each email can provide some reassurance to the recipient and state very clearly the purposes and representation of the communication and any warranties implied. In the case of submission of ideas and proposals etc; the subject line should read "commercial in confidence ATT: RECIPIENTS NAME".

As for any legal protection, this is still yet to be tested in many countries.

An email disclaimer example:

Disclaimer - This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and contain privileged or copyright information. You must not present this message to another party without gaining permission from the sender. If you are not the intended recipient you must not copy, distribute or use this email or the information contained in it for any purpose other than to notify us. 

If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately, and delete this email from your system. We do not guarantee that this material is free from viruses or any other defects although due care has been taken to minimise the risk.

Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of YOUR COMPANY NAME.

A suggested size for this email disclaimer notice is 8 point and it should be placed immediately after the signature line.

Please Note:

Because of the great variance in Internet laws from country to country, I strongly advise that you engage legal counsel in regards to drafting your own disclaimers and site policies. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be regarded as professional counsel.. there you go.. I've just used a disclaimer for this article - ;0)

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
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