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Do I Need a Content Disclaimer?

James Chiodo, Certified Information Privacy Professional CIPP/US

A Content Disclaimer serves one main purpose: It is posted on sites where users, members or third-parties (advertisers, sponsors and merchants) post information, comment or exchange opinions on your website or blog.

The Content Disclaimer gives notice that you are not responsible for, nor do you advocate the content, comments or opinions posted or exchanged by others through your Website or Blog, and that all content (including your content) provided on your Website can be changed, edited or removed at your sole discretion.

The Content Disclaimer also provides notice that you are under no obligation to keep the information on your Website or the subject matter in your Blog continuously current. This is due to the natural and ever-changing evolution of information, thus, you do not make any warranties as to errors, accuracy, reliability and timeliness of the entire content of the Website or Blog, again, due to the constant changing of information.

In regard to Blog content, the Content Disclaimer gives notice that your Blog contains your opinions and personal views, and is not to be considered as “expert” advice or opinion. Equally important, the Content Disclaimer gives notice that your Blog content is not intended to malign anyone or anything.

How Does a Content Disclaimer Protect You?

The Content Disclaimer reduces your risk of liability, in the advent of any claims or lawsuits based on content accessed through your Website or Blog. By giving notice that you do not advocate, endorse, warrant or guarantee any content provided by others through your Website or Blog, and by not providing warranties or guarantees regarding the content validity, you are asserting your right to publicly safeguard your eCommerce business from claims beyond your control.

If any claims or lawsuits are initiated based on content accessed through your Website or Blog, the Content Disclaimer can serve as relevant evidence in defending your eCommerce business from unsustainable content claims or lawsuits.

In regard to Blogs, libel and defamation claims or lawsuits may arise if reputations are intentionally harmed by Blog subject matter. You are in control of what you write in a Blog. Being cognizant of avoiding intentional harm is the most advantageous way in protecting yourself from libel and defamation claims or lawsuits.

A Content Disclaimer contributes in reducing the possibility of libel or defamation claims from arising; it gives public notice that your intent is NOT to malign anyone or anything. HOWEVER, IMPORTANT TO NOTE; YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WRITING FALSE STATEMENTS OF FACT TO PURPOSELY OR INTENTIONALLY HARM THE REPUTATION OF ANYONE OR ANYTHING.

It may be helpful to know the legal definitions of libel and defamation in order to ensure you are not publishing Blog subject matter that may fall within their legal definitions.

The legal definition of libel is: “to publish in print (including pictures,) writing or broadcasts through radio, television or film, an untruth about another or entity, which will do harm to that person or entity’s reputation.” The legal definition of defamation is; “to injure one’s reputation caused by a false statement of fact and includes both libel (defamation in written or fixed form) and slander (spoken defamation).

The crux of a defamation claim is falsity. Truthful statements that harm another’s reputation will not create liability for defamation (although they may open you up to other forms of liability if the information you publish is of a personal or high private nature.) Caution and restraint is key to avoiding possible libel and defamation actions.

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