Dubious Disclaimers

A student asked whether the disclaimer at Download-Crack-Serial.com served any legal purpose. One can guess at the correct answer on the site’s name alone. The language in question is this:

If you are affiliated with any government, or ANTI-Piracy group or any other related group or were formally a worker of such one or you want to eliminate this site or you have any claims on this site you CANNOT enter this web site that means you are not allowed to take ANY content from download-crack-serial.com, cannot access any content and you cannot view any of the HTML files. All the objects on this site are PRIVATE property and are not meant for viewing or any other purposes other then bandwidth space. DO NOT ENTER whatsoever! If you enter this site and you are not agreeing to these terms (Disclaimer) you are violating code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act signed by Bill Clinton in 1995 and that means that you CANNOT threaten our ISP(s) or any person(s) or company storing these files, cannot prosecute any person(s) affiliated with this page which includes family, friends or individuals who run or enter this web site. By continuing to enter this site, you are expressly and impliedly agreeing to all terms as stated above. If you disagree with this term you must leave this site immedeatly (sic).

The idea that such a contract “disclaimer”protects one from criminal or civil liability is representative of what can pass for legal knowledge on the Internet. Determine a desired outcome, invent a law to support it, wrap it up in legal-sounding language, and put it on the web. Poof! WikiLaw!

Nonsense. There is no Internet Privacy Act. Any first-year law student knows that 431.322.12 is not a form of citation to a federal statute. A contract disclaimer between a web site and a user cannot bind the rights of third parties (e.g., copyright holders or the state) because they are not in privity with the “contract.” A disclaimer of criminal liability would undoubtedly violate public policy and be void. If you rely on protection such as this to protect you from liability, then I have proposal for you. My friend is a top official of the Nigerian government, has millions of dollars trapped in the country, and needs only your bank account information . . .

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