Writing a disclaimer for product review blogs

04/19/2009 - 20 comments

disclaimerThere has been some concern in the world of Parenting blogs regarding the possibility that we may become liable for product reviews.  Apparently the Federal Trade Commission is currently reviewing the issue to determine of bloggers who review products are in violation of good business practices.

I think the main concern is over the “transparency” issue and making sure you are crystal clear regarding your relationship with your sponsors and disclosing to your readers that you were technically compensated for your review because you are in receipt of a free product in exchange for your testimonial.

Only time will tell when the FTC is finished reviewing the issue what will come of it, but in the meantime I became concerned so I decided to write a Terms of Use / Disclaimer page for What’s That Smell?.

I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV, so I had to do some web searches and honestly I didn’t find much.  I found a bunch of basic website disclaimer templates but none geared specifically towards blogs and definitely none geared toward product review blogs.  In my search to find a sample template for a blog disclaimer that would allow me to pretty much copy it and modify it to suit my needs, I found one lone candidate worthy of my attention.  Giovanna Di Sauro has written a 2-part series titled “Writing a blog disclaimer” and not only that, has provided permission to reproduce the disclaimer for your own site (edited as necessary).

I have copied Giovanna’s blog terms of use / disclaimer over to What’s That Smell? and made the appropriate modifications to personalize it.  I have also taken the “Blog Content” section and added some language appropriate for product review blogs.

If you would like to utilize Giovanna’s blog disclaimer as the basis for your own, you may visit part 2 of the tutorial here: “Writing a Blog Disclaimer (part 2)”and follow the requirement for copying the information (basically a link back).

If you would like to utilize the modifications I made to the Blog Content section of the disclaimer, I would appreciate a link back to What’s That Smell? but it is not required (you still need to link back to Giovanna’s site).  But remember – I am not an attorney and I provide no guarantees as to the legal validity of the information.  So basically, a disclaimer on the disclaimer – use it at your own risk.  You should  have an attorney review the disclaimer prior to use.

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  • Reply Kimmi - 01/07/2011 at 11:33 pm

    Hi Kim, Great piece!!

    I must be blind thought because I cannot find your disclaimer anywhere on your site. I would really love to use your template with the changes made for review content.

    Can you please point out the link for me??

    Thanks a million!

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  • Reply Dee 08/06/2009 at 10:19 am

    I found the Giovanna’s article and template several months ago and attempted to adapt it to my blog. I’d love to see how you accomplished that but can’t find it on here.

  • Reply Evelyn 05/08/2009 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks. This post saved me hours of research time and effort. This will be a huge help.

  • Reply michelle 04/27/2009 at 9:41 pm

    Thank you so much! This is truly going to help out a lot!

  • Reply Multi-Tasking Mommy 04/26/2009 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been a bit freaked out by this recent issue.
    FYI, your links to that website where you can copy the disclaimer don’t work!

  • Reply Tara 04/23/2009 at 3:20 pm

    Extremely helpful! Thank you Kim!

  • Reply Alyson 04/22/2009 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for doing this darlin’! You are helpful as always…that good Karma has to come back to you in spades!

  • Reply Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy 04/21/2009 at 3:20 pm

    I’m working on one right now. Such stupid hoops to jump through!

  • Reply sito 04/21/2009 at 2:07 pm

    Whew. Glad the FTC is on top of this. I might read your Country Bob’s Sauce review and not fully understand that I shouldn’t put a nipple on the bottle and give it to the baby at the barbecue. If I’m that ignorant, I probably won’t understand the disclaimers, either. I’m sorry that bloggers — and anyone else — need to protect themselves like this while Mattel can let little kids in Chinese paint our kids’ toys with over-leaded paint and all they need to do is say, Oops, send it back.

  • Reply Janet F 04/21/2009 at 3:50 am

    Thank you for posting about this.

  • Reply Maggie M 04/20/2009 at 7:09 pm

    Do they know there are children starving in this world?! Geez, when will our Government stop nit-picking the small stuff and start taking care of the big stuff?! They’re just wasting the taxpayer’s money going after blog reviews & giveaways. Just who at The Federal Trade Commission needs a V-8 smack in the head?!

  • Reply Badger Momma 04/20/2009 at 3:30 pm

    Maybe I’m not understanding this completely. Since when can you be held liable for your opinion?

    • Reply Kim 04/20/2009 at 3:43 pm

      Right…makes little sense…

      That’s the whole thing is that they want to regulate it. I believe it has to do with their supposition that a free product in exchange for a review is akin to a paid review therefore your “opinion” is not “opinion” but “advertising.”

  • Reply valmg 04/20/2009 at 10:21 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I have to sit down and read this.

  • Reply Karen of Sillymonkeez 04/20/2009 at 8:48 am

    Thank you for this Kim! I have been discussing this topic with my husband a lot lately and it costs $500 for each of my blogs to be insured in my state. I will definitely link back to both sites if I use these on my blogs.

  • Reply Mommy Zabs 04/20/2009 at 6:37 am

    I need to get on this too. I heard there are politicians out there trying to put an end to mommy blog reviews. So much to worry about. So much. Thanks for research on this and I will get on researching these links soon for Does Mommy Love It? As usual, you rock.

  • Reply Elina 04/20/2009 at 6:36 am

    Thanks for the reminder to do this and also sharing the links to examples.

  • Reply Annette Burke 04/20/2009 at 12:18 am

    Thank you for the info. I’m going to go check it out!