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Do I need to have a disclaimer while giving people advice on the internet?

Mountain View, CA |

I run a site where people ask me questions about relationship advice, working out, lots of things. Should I have a disclaimer? If so, what should it say? Thanks.

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Attorney answers 5


Couldn't hurt. Much like this site (see disclaimers below), you are just providing some advice, but not necessarily forming any sort of relationship with the person seeking the advice. Therefore, to the extent that there may be any liability due to a relationship being formed, you are trying to alleviate it.

The answer to this question is for informational purposes only and does not form an attorney-client relationship.


I agree. And it probably wouldn't hurt to spend a few dollars to have a lawyer draft it for you.

This post is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney client relationship with Mr. Cassara.



Would you want to be that lawyer?

William Emil Cassara

William Emil Cassara


Not really my area of expertise. Christine McCall, a frequent AVVO posted from AVVO, practices in this area.


Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

You should answer questions only to the extent you believe you have sufficient knowledge to provide proper advice to people. In addition, you may certainly provide a disclaimer.


I agree with my colleagues: You should provide such a disclaimer (as we do).

Indeed, the disclaimer should be part of a full set of terms and conditions (typically called terms of Service or Terms of Use) to which each user agrees before using your site. (Please see the post at the link below.)

If you do not have those terms and conditions, or if you do not require users to accept them, then you should retain a lawyer to help you ASAP.

This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


Are You Planning on Opening a New E-Commerce Website?

There is much you need to know as you begin your new business. I suggest you do not attempt to write your own legal policies. This is not where your training and background lie, and though you are probably as smart as an attorney, you do not have their experience.

Below is a checklist for legal issues I use for new e-commerce clients.

1. Business entity - Are you going to be a C corp, an LLC or a sole proprietorship?
2. Terms of Service - This is your contract with your visitors and is the most important item for any e-commerce site. A little work here brings big dividends in the future.
3. Privacy Policy - Every e-commerce site needs a privacy policy!
4. FTC guidlines - The FTC has been regulating business advertising for almost a century. All of their advertising guidlines apply to e-commerce sites.
5. Domain Name issues? Is your name available. Can you create a Trademark?
6. Trademark - Do you have a brand name free from conflict? Should you start with just common law rights? Should you register the mark, and when?
7. Copyright - If it is on the web, it already belongs to somebody. Did you buy a license for the images you are using? Do you have a DMCA notice on your web site?
8. Do you need a DMCA policy?
9. Web Site security issues?
10. Do you need and have an EIN? You can get that for free.
11. Do you have employees? - If so you need written policies regarding their authority and use of the internet.
12. Do you know the difference between a "browser wrap" and a "click wrap" and which do you need?

When I discuss this list with clients other issues arise. Finally, I always discuss with my clients their need for good accounting services. An accountant's advice as you start up can save you many dollars in tax that you might not save if you wait to speak to an accountant until your first tax return is due.

I hope this list will give you pause to think about those issues for which you might need to seek professional advice.

You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo, including myself, offer a free phone consultation.
Andrew M. Jaffe
Attorney at Law
Practice Limited to E-Commerce and Internet Law

This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.