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Lately I've noticed that a lot of people asking to exchange links with my site have hefty disclaimers on their links pages like this: "We do not endorse any of the products or services shown here and have no personal knowledge of these sites."
Essentially, visit at your own risk. Is this kind of disclaimer now considered legally necessary if you have excluded links to adult content sites and on-line pharmacies and, shall we say, sites offering adult aids?
IANAL*, but it is *obvious* that you aren't responsible for the other side. In front of a judge, on the top of my head I think there's only one case where the court would make you guilty. Say you have a kid's website, targetted to a young audience. One of your links change to a porn page.
You can say that you had no idea that this happened, the 'net is a wild place, changes take minutes to apply, etc... (and you're right). On the other hand, the judge will say that you had to be more careful, and it's your obligation to make everything that you can so your audience doesn't see this kind of thing (and the judge would be right).
You will reply that the parents should monitor their kids internet activities, and that they should have a nanny software to prevent this (and this is a fact). The judge will not care because that's how the USA legal system works in real life, and "moral damages" are stupidly high (and that's a fact too).
So, to answer your question ^_^
There's no new law that I am aware of concerning links. But depending on your visitors, you must do everything that's possible to protect them. And it's not an one-line disclaimer that will save you.
* By this acronym alone you probably know where this kind of news would hit :p
"We do not endorse any of the products or services shown here and have no personal knowledge of these sites."
I wouldn't exchange links with or supply a link to any site with this particular disclaimer. If they have no personal knowledge of these sites ... why the heck are they linking to them? What is the point?
I link out freely to associated companies, organizations, government, etc without any disclaimers, but I do check every link once a month to be sure there are no dead links and that no cyber squatters (with or without porn) have grabbed somebody elses site.
A link is a pretty innocuous thing in most cases. I see no reason to use disclaimers for my purposes. However, if you are getting into an industrial strength link exchange programme, yeah ... you may want to consider using a disclaimer but I would write a better one than shown in your example!
I don't see any of the search engines using disclaimers for the sites they link to though. :)
Liane, you have a good point. Can you see the big search engines with disclaimers at the top of every page of search results?
It sounds as if the major concern is a domain being sold to a porn site. My site is not a children's site, but I want it to be family friendly, so I guess occasionally I should check my links to make sure they're still what they were when I first linked to them.