Disclaimers are statements of information that help limit your legal liabilty for things such as errors and omissions, giving instructional guidance and sharing your personal opinions.
They can also be used to keep your users informed about different things such as affiliate link usage, medical risks, atypical results and other things they would surely like to know.
This article will give you an overview of some of the most common and imortant disclaimer types with practical examples, while giving you a better idea of what options you have for your own website or mobile app when it comes to posting disclaimers.
A “views expressed” disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.
Another common use of a “views expressed” disclaimer is by people who are endorsing or critiquing a product that a company they work for produces or is involved with.
This type of disclaimer is typically seen on blogs or other online media publications, posts or articles that are more opinionated than factual in nature. They’re seen most often in personal opinion writing by experts or professionals working in the same field of study as their post.
For example, a climate change scientist writing an editorial or opinion piece that involves the topic of climate change may include a disclaimer saying that the opinions are his own and not that of his employer.
Otherwise, what one employee says may be construed as being what the entire company believes, thinks or condones, and this may be very inaccurate and even damaging to reputations.
In this situation, a disclaimer will let readers know that the writer is speaking solely for herself, not for the company or as a formal representative of the company.
It’s not uncommon for companies, universities and organizations to have some sort of social media policy in place to dictate how and when these disclaimers must be used.
Here’s how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) handles how employees of the NIH or US government must use disclaimers.
A fair use disclaimer is where you state that you’re using certain copyrighted material under the Fair Use Act. This helps protect you from being accused of copyright infringement.
While using copyrighted work can lead to copyright infringement issues, the “Fair Use” doctrine is an exception to this.
Under the “Fair Use” Act, a copyrighted work can be used, cited or incorporated within another author’s work legally without needing a license if it’s being used explicitly for things like news reporting, researching purposes, teaching, commentary, criticism, and other such uses.
Things like movie reviews that quote the movie, or using sections of a published book for a teaching lesson in a classroom are examples of common scenarios that are protected under this act.
There is four-factor balancing test considered when deciding if a particular use of a copyrighted work is a “fair use”:
1. What’s the purpose and character of the use? Is it commercial, or educational? Is the material transformed, or reproduced?
2. What’s the specific nature of the copyrighted work being used? Is it a work of fiction, or factual research? How much personal creativity and unique expression went into the work?
3. How much of the original work is used?
4. Will the use drastically affect the market or potential market for the copyrighted, original work?
Clean Air Revival has a Fair Use Notice that lets users know that “this site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.”
Clean Air Revival states that it’s using this material as part of its “effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.” and that it believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of the material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.