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Pippin: "So what exactly is a disclaimer?"
Merry: "It's a sort of protection against legal action."
Pippin(wrinkling nose and frowning): "Do we really need that sort of protection?"
Merry: "I seriously doubt it but it's better to be safe than sorry."
Pippin: "How does it work?"
Merry: "Well, when you post a disclaimer you make anyone who happens to read it aware that you aren't intentionally offending anyone, you aren't making any money or profit of any sort, and you are using portions of someone else's work and you don't want to be sued for doing so. It's rather a waste of energy really. A great many folks just skip the disclaimer and move on to the story."
Pippin: "Then why post one at all?"
Merry(shrugging): "I suppose it's a sensible precaution in the event that a lawyer reads some of your work and decides to take you to court."
Pippin: "So, if you've posted a disclaimer you can't be sued?"
Merry: "You can still be sued even if you've posted a disclaimer. The difference is you've admitted that you know you might be doing something wrong. You've been honest about it all and so you've nothing to hide once you get to court."
Pippin(shaking his head and looking skeptical): "But if you keep your mouth shut about it all isn't there less chance that you'll be caught? It's like stealing a pie and then bragging about it!"
Merry: "No it isn't. You aren't bragging when you post a disclaimer. You're saying something like, 'I realize that none of the characters in this story are mine. I give full credit to the author who created them. I am not making any profit from this venture and I do not plan to profit in any way. I have borrowed from the talented writing of, J.R.R. Tolkien and all credit for creativity goes only to him.'"
Pippin: "Oh! Rather like admitting to dinner guests that you didn't actually grow the vegetables or cook the meal, you just served it and so if they have any complaints then they should take that up with the kitchen staff."
Merry(smiling): "Or if there are any words of praise those should also go to the original author and not the person typing this disclaimer."
Pippin(looking very confused) "Merry?"
Merry: "Yes, Peregrin?"
Pippin: "It's all quite pointless then isn't it? The person writing this isn't getting any credit or profit for it at all because they didn't really do anything and the author who created the characters probably won't want credit since this disclaimer-writer is using *his* characters without official permission. Also, most folks won't read the disclaimer! Why do any of it at all?"
Merry(sighing): "Maybe the writer of the disclaimer doesn't have anything better to do."
Pippin: "I hope we don't wind up writing disclaimers. It sounds very dull."
Merry: "It can be unless you put a new spin on it now and again. Don't worry, Pippin. We won't have to write any disclaimers. Hobbits don't do much of that."
Pippin: "Do you suppose Bilbo or Frodo had to write a disclaimer for 'The Red Book of The Westmarch'?"
Merry: "Why would they?"
Pippin: "I've read some of it and don't tell anyone that I told you this but both Bilbo and Frodo used JRR Tolkien's characters too."
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