Why you need a disclaimer
A disclaimer may not always be required by law, but to mitigate risks, you should seriously consider using one. Regardless of your background or industry, adding a disclaimer to your website is a good idea for the following reasons:
It protects your rights
A disclaimer protects your rights over your intellectual property against infringement by other people. Assuming that your work is literary or artistic in nature, a disclaimer can contain a claim of ownership over the copyright of your content. A disclaimer may dissuade others from using your content without your permission.
Other forms of intellectual property will be fully protected only upon registration as per law. If your intellectual property consists of a technical solution to a problem, you should file for a patent. On the other hand, if you want to claim ownership over words, phrases, symbols, and designs that identify your goods or services, it is better to register a trademark.
It limits your liabilities
Since it serves as both a warning and a way to mitigate risks, a disclaimer protects you from liability. Anyone who reads your disclaimer should understand the risks involved in using your website or acting upon the information in it.
It clarifies your obligations to your readers.
A disclaimer notifies your readers of your qualifications or background, as well as delimits the scope of your obligations to them. This is especially useful when you are advising in an area that is not necessarily within your expertise.
It disclaims third party liability
There may be instances when third parties can interact with your customers or clients through your website or blog, thus exposing you to liability from their actions or statements.
Your website or social media account, for instance, may allow comments or advertisements from other parties. In these cases, a disclaimer will protect you from incurring liability from the actions of those who comment or advertise in your website or page.
It protects the organization or company to which you belong
If you belong to an organization or company, your website or blog can be easily linked to them, which may be damaging to both you and the organization or company. In this case, a disclaimer can clarify that your opinions are solely your own, and it does not reflect the views of those of the organization or company.
It is vital for you to note that a disclaimer will not completely protect you from liability. For example, you may still be held liable if a person is injured because of your negligence or if you failed to do something required by law. Nonetheless, writing and putting a disclaimer on your website is still worthwhile to best protect you and your business.
What to include in a disclaimer?
While there are templates of disclaimers available on the internet, it is still best if you create a disclaimer tailored to your own website. Here are some things to remember when writing a disclaimer:
Identify the rights you want to protect
As mentioned earlier, a disclaimer helps protect your ownership over your intellectual property. A disclaimer that states your ownership over your work dissuades theft of such work, and at the same time, protects you from accusations that such work was copied or stolen.
Identify areas where you might be subject to liability
You are exposing yourself to legal liability, whether it is through selling goods or services or publishing information in a website. For instance, someone could get hurt when using your product, or someone could misconstrue information posted on your website.
When making a disclaimer, try to think of the possible scenarios that could expose you to legal liability. A disclaimer should contain all areas of potential risk that you can identify.
Here are some points that your disclaimer may contain:
Inform your readers that your content is merely an opinion
Over the past few years, there has been a steady growth in litigation over online content, and most of these suits are grounded on defamation. Protect yourself from criminal charges by making the readers of your website or blog aware that its content is merely an opinion and not fact.
Warn your readers against potential mistakes on your website
You should also consider including a disclaimer over the accuracy of the information on your website. Otherwise, errors in the information you publish, even if unintentional, could expose yourself to legal liability.
Inform your readers that your content is not professional advice
When publishing information, professionals usually add a disclaimer to say that their content is only informational and cannot be construed as professional advice. After all, this kind of advice can be given only after a personal consultation with a professional. This means that readers who act on the information in the website do so at their own risk.
Disclaim third-party actions or content
If your business entails dealing with third parties, aside from your customers or clients, you may want to consider limiting your liability for the actions or errors of such third parties.
When you are using websites or social media platforms, this form of disclaimer is also useful. Website or social media accounts may have features that enable comments, user submissions, advertisements, or any form of third-party content.