A disclaimer is a legal notice that is placed on the website in order to limit liability when using the site
One of the great things about the internet is that anyone can publish their own website. No effort is required and the site is online within a few minutes. Anyone who wants to set up a blog or start a small business can easily access millions of potential users or customers.
To have their own website that offers information, goods or services to the public, prospects only need to invest some time and a small amount of money on hosting and a domain name.
While technology is making it easier than ever to share your opinion or offer products or services online, there are some legal issues that website owners need to look out for if they are to be successful in the long term. Online especially, there are some potential legal issues that are better avoided.
What users read on a website should not turn out to be incorrect, inaccurate or harmful, otherwise the operator of the website risks legal action. Website operators should therefore add a disclaimer to the information. The word disclaimer comes from the English language and means something like “deny” or “deny”. A disclaimer is mainly used in emails or on websites. This protects the writer of an email or the operator of a website against legal liability in most cases.
What is a website disclaimer?
In principle, a website operator can be held liable in the event of damage if he links his pages with the content of other pages. This can only be prevented if the operator expressly distances himself from the content of the linked pages.
Almost every website has such disclaimers and it is important to include disclaimers on your own pages. An exclusion of liability cannot completely prevent legal action, but it can make an important contribution to the protection of the site operator.
Even if a site operator makes every effort to confirm the accuracy of the information on its pages, it is always possible, for example when exchanging links, that this information is inaccurate or even incorrect. Users who feel harmed in any way by the wrong information could try to hold the site operator responsible. With a disclaimer, a site owner can usually successfully argue that they are not responsible for the content. However, the disclaimer meaning is marginal and does not generally protect against legal consequences.
In addition to the content, a disclaimer also includes other parts of the publication such as potential copyright problems, the transmission of viruses or malware, and much more. From a purely technical point of view, almost all problems with what operators place on their websites can be covered by the disclaimer.
For the operator of a website it is important to consider that an exclusion of liability in no way excludes the possibility of legal action. In principle, any user can file a lawsuit. However, if the disclaimer covers the points in question, the site operator is usually protected from legal action. Even before posting a page on the Internet, it is therefore advisable to think carefully about what should be published on this page.
Why a disclaimer is needed
The content that should be included in a disclaimer depends heavily on the type of website. It is impossible to say exactly what should be in every website disclaimer because websites come in all different shapes and sizes.
A disclaimer protects the rights of the site operator
A disclaimer protects the rights of the site operator to its intellectual property from injury by other people. If the page contains literary or artistic information, the disclaimer may contain a claim to copyright ownership. If the property consists of a technical solution, it is better to apply for a patent. Words, phrases, symbols or designs should be registered as trademarks.
Limitation of Liabilities
A disclaimer protects the site owner from liability because it serves as both a warning and a risk mitigation tool. Any user who reads the disclaimer should understand the risks associated with using the website or acting on the information contained therein.
Refusal of liability to third parties
In the event that third parties interact with third parties via the operator’s website, there is no liability for their actions and statements.
What should be included in a disclaimer?
According to whicheverhealth, the best disclaimer is the one that perfectly fits the needs of the site operator. With this in mind, some things should be included in the disclaimer, provided that they are consistent with the content and purpose of the website.
- Determine what to protect
- Identify the areas where you may be liable
- Let users know that the content is just an opinion
- Warn users of possible errors on the website
- Reject third party promotions and content
- The meaning of the disclaimer must be clearly recognizable
Where can a disclaimer be displayed?
The display options depend on the content and type of page. Here are a few ways a disclaimer can appear:
Browse wrap method
The browse wrap method is a hyperlink on the bottom page that redirects the user to another page with a disclaimer. Most websites and applications use a browse wrap method to display their disclaimers, terms and conditions, and other policies.
Click wrap method
In contrast to the browse wrap method, the click wrap method is indicated by a check box. On the web page, a reader must select or toggle the “I agree” check box in order to continue with the website. The website owner can also make the reader aware of the obligations of the reader with the sentence “By clicking on the following button you agree to X or Y”.
As part of the terms and conditions
Before visiting the website, users or customers must accept the terms and conditions. If the disclaimer is part of the terms and conditions, it is part of the contract. However, such a notice must be easily recognizable for the user.
Can a disclaimer template be used?
Better not. The generic template was created by people who are probably not familiar with the operator’s websites. Therefore, the disclaimer may have loopholes or fall short. It is best to have a disclaimer that is specifically tailored to the needs of the site and the operator.
Disclaimer German: example
Disclaimer and legal information
The views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official guidelines or positions of other agencies, organizations, employers or companies. The assumptions made in the analysis do not reflect the position of any entity other than that of the author. Since we humans think critically, these views can be changed, revised and reconsidered at any time.
The authors and our company cannot be held responsible for misuse, reuse and incorrect quotation of content on these pages by others. It is the responsibility of the reader to verify the facts.