Disclaimers help companies protect themselves against legal claims by addressing liabilities specific to their operations.
Although businesses, websites, and apps in all industries can benefit from the legal protection a disclaimer statement offers, they’re especially useful for platforms that manage:
- Affiliate relationships
- Customer testimonials
- Legal advice
- Medical advice
- Financial advice
- Email newsletters
- Sponsored posts
- Offensive content/material
If you’re ready to download and customize a disclaimer, check out our disclaimer template.
To help you choose what to include in your statement, let’s look at some common disclaimer statement examples, and how they can benefit your business.
1. Copyright Disclaimer
A copyright disclaimer protects original content against user theft. It explains that you own your website and everything on it — and that there are legal repercussions for using your work without permission.
Copyright is a form of protection offered by US law for “original works of authorship.” An original work is defined by the US Copyright Office as:
independently created by a human author and possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity.
As soon as a work is created and becomes reproducible, copyright protection automatically applies. A detailed copyright disclaimer is therefore not legally required, but acts as a strong deterrent against copyright infringement. It shows that you are aware of the law and will defend your claim.
Your business’s copyright claim can be detailed in your terms and conditions under intellectual property rights:
This example disclaimer clause allows you to lay claim to your site’s creative assets. However, notifying users of your copyright as soon as they access your site is also important.
One effective way to do this is to place a copyright notice in your site’s footer. It should comprise three parts:
- The copyright symbol
- The year of publication
- The name of the copyright owner
Here’s how a copyright notice looks on Instagram’s homepage:
By proving that users were made aware of your copyright as soon as they access your site, you will have a stronger case if a dispute goes to court. Follow Instagram’s example, and put a copyright notice in your site footer.
The NFL’s terms and conditions includes a detailed copyright disclaimer:
It states that the NFL owns all the content provided through its services, and that users have no license to copy, modify, or distribute it.
Use a copyright disclaimer to establish ownership of original content, and prevent users from benefiting commercially from your hard work.
Take a holistic approach to your legal policies by customizing a terms of service template to complement and reinforce your disclaimer.
2. Fair Use Disclaimer
If your site or app uses content from other sources, you need to include a fair use disclaimer to prevent your business from being accused of copyright infringement.
Under the principle of fair use, copyrighted works can be used in certain circumstances without the permission of the copyright owner.
According to Section 107 of the Copyright Act:
the fair use of a copyrighted work […] for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
To protect your business from copyright infringement claims, follow these steps:
- State that your site may contain content not authorized for use by its owner
- Explain how your use of this material falls under the guidelines of fair use (e.g., comment)
- Link to Section 107 of the Copyright Act
Here’s an example of a fair use–copyright disclaimer from a YouTube video that meets these requirements:
You can defend your use of original content with similar disclaimer language, based on the category of fair use you are using copyrighted work under, and any applicable licences.
To present its fair use guidelines, YouTube includes a link to a copyright resource in its site footer:
In these guidelines, YouTube includes a copyright and fair use disclaimer explaining that it receives a lot of takedown requests under copyright law, and that it strives to protect creators.
While we can’t offer a legal defense to everyone, we’ll remain vigilant about takedown notices impacting all creators.
If your website or app relies on content created by others, you can learn from YouTube’s open and accessible approach to fair use to build trust with your users.
YouTube content creators and businesses that target children under 13 need to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
3. Confidentiality Disclaimer (for Emails)
Confidentiality disclaimers explain that some content is only intended to be seen by a certain audience — for example, private information in an email.
Digital communication offers more opportunities for confidential information to be exposed or intercepted. A confidentiality disclaimer states who the message is for, why the recipient should not forward it to others, and who they should contact if they receive the message by mistake.
Email hosting company Zoho offers a sample confidentiality disclaimer, which can be included in an email signature:
This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this email. You cannot use or forward any attachments in the email. Please notify the sender immediately by email if you have received this email by mistake and delete this email from your system. Company X, Suite# 1, Street, City, Country, www.company.com
Confidentiality disclaimers are commonly used in law, education, and healthcare — industries that rely on the transfer of sensitive information. For example, they’re useful in situations where a business needs to ensure attorney–client privilege, safeguard sensitive personal data, or protect private health records.
If you send emails containing protected health information to US medical patients, a confidentiality disclaimer is required in order to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Here’s an example of a HIPAA email disclaimer from the University of Miami:
Standard disclaimer text like this can help meet HIPAA’s list of precautions for emails.
If your business sends certain confidential information by email, add a confidentiality disclaimer to all electronic communications to comply with the law, or just to ensure your messages are only seen by the intended audience.
4. Warranty Disclaimer
Warranty disclaimers explain that sellers and service providers are not bound by any implied promises about their products in the event of failures or defects.
These statements vary depending on the nature of your business, but typically explain that a product or service is offered “as is” — implying that the customer or user accepts it in its current condition, including any unseen faults.
For websites and apps, warranty disclaimers state that the company makes no promises about the accuracy and reliability of the content it publishes. Here’s an example:
As seen above, this standard disclaimer wording allows you to avoid responsibility for any mistakes, errors, or omissions that occur. This prevents users from taking legal action against your business because of a simple mistake.
Tumblr’s terms of service provide a good example of a warranty disclaimer:
The disclaimer tells users that the service is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis, and that by using it, visitors accept that it may contain defects or not meet their expectations.
Take, for example, Amazon’s disclaimer of warranties. The world’s largest retailer has a suitably comprehensive statement that applies to both its services and its products:
All sites and apps are subject to unforeseen technical issues, and warranty disclaimers like these two examples limit your liability for problems outside of your control, such as viruses and downtime.
Members of the Amazon Associates program are legally required to include an Amazon affiliate disclosure. Similar to a disclaimer, this explains that the site has an affiliate relationship that users should be aware of.
5. No Responsibility Disclaimer
No responsibility disclaimers explain to users that your business will not be held responsible for any damages they suffer as a result of using your products or services.
Because these agreements limit your liability, they are also often referred to online as “no liability” disclaimers.
No responsibility disclaimers address both tangible and intangible damages — for example, physical harm caused by using a product, loss of profits or loss of data, and defamatory comments.
Twitter’s terms of service includes a particularly detailed limitation of liability disclaimer:
This disclaimer explains that Twitter will not be held responsible for the content its users choose to share, which may be offensive to others.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which enforces global privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK, also has a disclaimer on its site:
As the ICO website discusses privacy law compliance, it must inform users that the information it provides is not legal advice, and that the external website links it provides are only for reference.
It’s critical to limit your business’s liability for all aspects of your operations — even for small things like linking to other websites.
If, like the ICO, you advise on issues like GDPR compliance, include no-responsibility clauses in your disclaimer.
6. Views Expressed Disclaimer
Views expressed disclaimers state that the views and opinions stated on a site or platform by contributors are not the same as those of the business.
This type of disclaimer is vital if your site allows contributions from others, or provides a platform for users and guests to leave comments. It explains in legal terms that the opinion of an author you publish is not the same as that of your company or organization.
A model example of a views expressed disclaimer is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) podcast disclaimer:
The FCC’s disclaimer clearly explains to users that the podcast exists to offer guidance, not provide a strict interpretation of FCC policy.
Fox News has a disclaimer that addresses user-generated content on its message boards and forums:
The Fox News disclaimer is a good example of how a news website can benefit from the discussion created by user-generated content, but still distance itself from the views expressed.
If you allow contributors or users to share their opinions, either through forums or for marketing purposes, a views expressed disclaimer is a handy weapon in your legal arsenal.
7. Investment Disclaimer
Investment disclaimers explain that while a business may provide financial advice, it is not responsible for the consequences of acting on that advice.
This type of disclaimer is suitable for sites that deal with all types of investments, from mutual funds to real estate.
Citibank’s terms and conditions includes a good example of an effective bank disclaimer:
It clearly states that Citibank will not be responsible for the consequences of using its investment products, such as losses associated with the risks of investing.
An investment disclaimer like this also explains that past performance is not an indicator of future results.
Similar financial disclaimers are found on cryptocurrency websites. CoinDesk’s terms and conditions includes the following investment disclaimer clause:
Although CoinDesk provides information about investing in digital assets, its disclaimer says users should not make investments based on this information. In a turbulent industry such as cryptocurrency, it’s important for a company to fully disclaim all responsibility for decisions its users make.
No matter how professional your services, you should not be responsible for how your users act upon them. Investment disclaimers are just one industry example of how you can protect your specific business interests.
Legal policies don’t have to be wordy to be effective — in fact, the opposite is true. Avoid legalese and write clear policies that your users understand.
8. No Guarantee Disclaimer
No guarantee disclaimers state that a business makes no promises regarding the outcome of using its product or service.
One of the best examples online is Wikipedia’s disclaimer:
This disclaimer explains that although Wikipedia has a team of editors, it has no formal peer review, and therefore cannot guarantee the validity of information contained on its site.
It includes a separate clause stating that while it covers various topics, it does not constitute advice in that discipline:
If you post any type of informational content, a standard no guarantee disclaimer clause allows you to be a source of industry knowledge without any obligations to your users.
The US Equal Employment Commission’s disclaimer is similar:
Whatever type of website you operate, it’s valuable to include a no guarantee disclaimer like the one above to stop users taking advantage — for example, suing for errors.
Disclaimer Statement Examples: Key Takeaways
Disclaimers reinforce your company’s legal defenses by specifically addressing certain liabilities that aren’t explained in your other policies.
To recap, there are many types of disclaimers, and you need to pick one that best suits your needs. For example:
- Copyright disclaimers help protect your original content
- Fair use disclaimers help you avoid copyright infringement claims
- Confidentiality/email disclaimers help maintain the confidentiality of private information
- Warranty disclaimers prevent you from being bound by faults and defects
- No responsibility disclaimers limit your liability for damages
- Views expressed disclaimers allow you to distance yourself from others’ opinions
- Investment disclaimers state that you take no responsibility for how others act on your advice
- No guarantee disclaimers explain the limits of your products or services
The benefit of all disclaimers, no matter the industry, is to safeguard your business interests. If you don’t have a disclaimer, you’re potentially leaving your business vulnerable to legal trouble.
Use our disclaimer template to get started writing your own, or click the button below to create a free disclaimer tailored to your operations.