YouTube is a perfect platform for sharing your expertise, showcasing your creative talent, and generating revenue.
However, it is important to remember that you are fully responsible for every piece of content you create.
That is why if your videos are not complicit with YouTube’s legal policies or contain some misleading information, you are also the one to deal with the consequences.
Using a YouTube disclaimer is one of the best ways to avoid any legal issues and notify your viewers about anything they need to know.
Are you ready to draft your first YouTube disclaimer, but don’t know where to start? We have prepared a detailed guide on different types of disclaimers and how to write one.
What is a YouTube Disclaimer?
YouTube Disclaimer is a statement intended to limit or deny one’s responsibility for certain actions or information. It is often used to protect content creators, authors, and publishers from legal liability.
There are 5 main types of YouTube disclaimers:
- Use at your own risk
- Professional liability
- General Liability waiver
- Copyright & fair use
- Sponsored content
This is not a final list, since the choice of a disclaimer directly depends on your channel’s niche and the content you make.
However, the types mentioned above are the most common. This guide will explore each one of them in more detail later on.
Is it Necessary to Add a YouTube Disclaimer?
While the platform itself does not require any disclaimers from its content creators, it is in your best interest to add one.
This is the best way to protect yourself from any legal liability your content may cause.
Even though a disclaimer cannot guarantee that you won’t get sued, it will have a mitigating effect on the claims against you (and limit their number).
Overall, YouTube disclaimers perform 3 main functions:
A majority of disclaimers are meant to provide important information to the audience so that they are not misled by your content.
For example, if your video contains sponsored content, you should disclose that to your viewers right away.
2. Limited liability
A YouTube disclaimer should protect you from legal consequences in case your content may entail some responsibility for the way it is used by the viewers.
For instance, if you give some medical or legal advice without a relevant license, you should notify your audience that you are not a professional, so they should use any advice you give at their own risk.
3. Legal compliance
Disclaimers are also used to ensure that your video content is compliant with any relevant legal or regulatory requirements.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for example requires truthful advertising that discloses affiliate relationships. So if your promotion of any product generates revenue, the video must include an earnings disclaimer.
How to Add a YouTube Disclaimer?
There are no strict regulations about where you should add your YouTube disclaimer, so you can choose any of the following options:
- In the video description
- In the channel description
- In the video itself
Let us walk you through each of them.
1. In the video description
- Go to your YouTube account
- Tap Content>Edit>Video details
- Add the disclaimer text or link
2. In the channel description
- Log into YouTube studio
- Go to Customization and find a Basic info tab
- Scroll down until you find the Description field
- Add the disclaimer text or link there
- The disclaimer will be displayed in the About section
3. In the video itself
To add the disclaimer to the video itself, you can simply integrate the slide with the disclaimer text into the video.
Make sure that the text is readable by making it bold and using colors that contrast the background.
Types of YouTube Disclaimers and How to Write Them
Now let’s explore the most common types of YouTube disclaimers and how to write them.
The type of disclaimer you need to choose and the exact information you include in it will vary depending on your channel’s niche and the liability you may face.
However, these are the 5 most common disclaimers used on the platform:
Use At Your Own Risk
Simply put, a “Use at your own risk” disclaimer is the equivalent of saying “I am not to blame if something goes wrong”.
This disclaimer is usually used to notify the viewers that the information provided in the video is general knowledge or your personal opinion and shouldn't be taken as professional advice.
A disclaimer like that can be often found in videos that give medical advice, show people doing extreme sports, or provide life hacks that involve some safety risks.
However, remember, that it doesn’t protect you from liability in all cases.
If the information you provide is intentionally false or can cause a serious threat to people’s well-being, a disclaimer will not save you from the responsibility.
To write a “Use at your own risk” disclaimer, analyze any risks that might arise from the use of your content.
Then draft a statement that clearly indicates the content of your video is only intended for informational purposes and should therefore be used at the viewer’s risk.
For example, a video by TKOR that teaches people how to make homemade rockets uses the following disclaimer:
2. Professional Liability
If you are sharing professional advice on topics like medicine, finance, law, or nutrition, you will probably want to include a professional liability disclaimer.
This way you will let your audience know that while you are qualified in the field, your advice does not equal a professional consultation.
In other words, the advice you give to your viewers is general and is not guaranteed to help each individual.
Here’s how you write a professional liability disclaimer:
- First, state your professional qualification
- Then indicate that all the advice in the video has an informational purpose and does not guarantee any particular outcome
- Finally, disclaim any legal liability for the use of your advice.
Here’s how Dr. Tracey Marks notifies her viewers about the educational purposes of her channel:
3. General Liability disclaimer
The general liability disclaimer is very similar to the professional liability one.
It is also aimed at protecting the creators of the video from any legal repercussions that may be caused by the use of the information provided.
The only difference is general liability disclaimers can be used by any creator, regardless of whether they have a professional background in their channel’s niche or not.
A disclaimer like that can often be seen on business channels that give advice on real estate or investment, as well as videos that show extreme sports.
For example, an investor Nate O’Brien includes a disclaimer like that in his videos:
4. Copyright & Fair Use
Copyright is a type of intellectual property that grants a creator an exclusive right to control the use and distribution of their original work.
Therefore, you cannot use a piece of someone’s copyrighted video or audio in your YouTube videos unless you have the permission of the owner.
However, there is an exception to the copyright law, called fair use. It allows you to use someone’s material without permission for review, commentary, or criticism purposes.
In this case, the original material has to be substantially different and used only in parts.
Abusing the fair use rule is very risky, as this can lead to violating the copyright rule, which entails serious repercussions.
So what about the disclaimers?
Well, there is no need to use a copyright disclaimer to protect your content, since the copyright rules apply automatically after you publish it.
Using a fair use disclaimer when reviewing or criticizing someone’s work is not required, but it is definitely a good idea.
This way you can notify original authors that you are using their content under fair use and avoid any misunderstandings or legal issues in the future.
Here’s an example of a fair use disclaimer used by a channel called Signs and Symbols under their review of a Harry Styles music video:
5. Sponsored Content
Sponsored content (or affiliate marketing) disclaimer lets your viewers know that you were paid or compensated to include the mention of specific products or services in a video.
Unlike other disclaimers in this guide, this one is not optional.
For example, in the U.S. all sponsored content is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which requires disclosure of any affiliations.
In the EU, a similar role is played by the European Commission's Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
Therefore, if you want to be transparent with your audience and avoid any legal issues, you should add a clear disclaimer that explains the nature of your relationship with the brand you endorse.
The same goes for any affiliate links you are using in your video descriptions.
It is also a common practice to add a disclaimer to the video itself, shortly explaining that the next few minutes (or more) of the video are going to be a paid promotion.
Here’s an example of an FTC disclaimer used by a creator in the makeup niche:
Although in most cases YouTube disclaimers are not mandatory, adding them is always in your best interest.
This way you can be fully honest with your viewers and limit your liability for any legal issues that may arise.
While the exact wording of your disclaimer depends on the nature of your content and the type of legal liability you want to avoid, the message should always be clear, concise, and prominently displayed.
However, remember - even though disclaimers help protect creators, they cannot guarantee full immunity if your content violates relevant rules and regulations.
That is why it is important to always analyze your videos for any potential legal liabilities and be aware of the content regulations of your country.
Was this guide helpful for you? If yes, you should probably subscribe to YouTube Hub and get access to more premium content on the ins and outs of YouTube.