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General Chat Thread, E-Mail Signature Disclaimer in General; Hi All. Currently setting up our new email and just wondering what to put for Disclaimers at the bottom, at ...
  1. #1
    DaveMurphy's Avatar
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    E-Mail Signature Disclaimer

    Hi All.

    Currently setting up our new email and just wondering what to put for Disclaimers at the bottom, at the moment ive got (below) what can or could I put to make it more interesting? what do you have?

    Also on another subject but in the same area as copyright, an email discussion accidentally got forwarded to a parent by a member of staff which was talking about another school, the parent then forwarded it to the school and then the riots started, their chair of govs then started to question me and create problems for us, if it's been circulated without permission which then caused issues is there anything that, as i quote 'our crap unknowledgeable department' can do about it? Just want to stick up for this member of staff, as the saying goes, ill scratch your back if you scratch mine.



    Any better signatures than this one?
    --
    Dave Murphy
    IT Technician

    This e-mail and any attachments may contain confidential and privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail, delete this e-mail and destroy any copies. Any dissemination or use of this information by a person other than the intended recipient is unauthorized and may be illegal.

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    mb2k01's Avatar
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    We use:

    *** Disclaimer ***
    This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the recipient named above.
    If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute, copy or alter this email. Any views or opinions presented in this email are solely those of the author and might not represent those of abc School.
    Warning: Although abc School has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the company cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments.

  3. #3

    john's Avatar
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    I use the following as an auto disclaimer on mail systems I've setup:

    ----------
    This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you must take no action based on them, nor must you copy or show them to anyone; please forward to postmaster@domain.county.sch.uk and highlight the error
    ----------
    Every effort has been made to ensure that this message (and any attachment) does not contain a virus or Trojan Horse, but you are advised to virus check any attachment before opening it. The Staff and Governors of Your School cannot accept any liability for damage as a result of a virus being passed on, or arising from alteration of the contents of this message by a third party.
    ----------
    Your School is a registered Charity No: 1234567890
    ----------
    Registered Office: Your School, Your Street, Your Town, Postcode
    Tel: Your Tel | Fax: Your Fax
    ----------

    I also ensure that people are told that, as its LEA Policy from our guidebooks from them, that all E-mails should state the name and postion within the School, thus should have something like this:

    Your Name BSC, MA, NPHQ, EDUGOD
    Your Position
    Your Direct Contact Details

  4. #4

    localzuk's Avatar
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    This site may provide some guidance on email disclaimers and their worth: Legal Position of email disclaimers: Internet Law

  5. 2 Thanks to localzuk:

    OutToLunch (8th October 2009), srochford (7th October 2009)

  6. #5

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    Unless you're really being pressured by management to add a disclaimer, please don't do it!

    They have pretty much no value in law and just upset anyone with a modicum of common sense :-)

  7. #6

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    And if you are going to stick something at the bottom it should be your .sig ...
    - followed by - and then a space and then carriage return
    Then 4 lines of text no more the 80 characters (fixed width) wide.

    Outlook is not the only client out there!

    And for the non-pedants ... I get bored of receiving emails that have more in the disclaimer than in the email. A one line response comes in at 82 lines from one LA! C'mon ... seriously now!

  8. #7
    Nick_Parker's Avatar
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    We have this whole long who-ha written in size 8 font in gray at the bottom of any external emails - I personally don't like it, but management even went so far as to have it written up by one of the lawyer parents:

    ________________________________________
    Our electronic mail system is intended only for communications by and to the employees, academic staff and trustees or directors of Dainfern College, and then on College business only. This e-mail and the information in it is confidential, protected by law and may be legally privileged. Other communications on this system are not authorised by the College. If you are not the intended recipient hereof please notify the sender/forwarder immediately, delete the same and do not disclose the contents to any other person nor peruse, store, copy or distribute the same. The views and opinions expressed in this e-mail are not necessarily those of Dainfern College. NOTE: Dainfern College disavows liability for any loss, liability, damage or expense which may result from this e-mail being transmitted and/or received by any person, and whether such loss, liability, damage or expense arises by reason of neglect by or on behalf of Dainfern College or otherwise.

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    If you're not putting the disclaimer at the start of the message ("before "hello Fred"), there's no point. You can't ask someone accept a confidentiality notice after you've told them something - they have no compelling reason to agree. There's also the argument that a "confidential" notice automatically added to every outgoing email (Including "Do you fancy fish and chips?"-type mails) dilutes any minimal weight it may have.

    Maybe teach your employees not to be tards when forwarding emails around? "Don't say anything in email you wouldn't be happy saying in court".

    http://www.out-law.com/page-5536
    Last edited by pete; 8th October 2009 at 07:45 AM.

  10. #9

    localzuk's Avatar
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    @scrochford and pete - that is not really true, as the site I linked to says. If your email declares that the information within it is confidential, then it is confidential - and breaching that would have some form of weight in court. It isn't 'binding', but it has weight, which is the reason why disclaimers are used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    @scrochford and pete - that is not really true, as the site I linked to says. If your email declares that the information within it is confidential, then it is confidential - and breaching that would have some form of weight in court. It isn't 'binding', but it has weight, which is the reason why disclaimers are used.
    Nice link you had. I'm still often tempted to change our disclaimer to random things each week and see if anyone notices...

    "Warning, this disclaimer is not worth the space it is written in. Please do not run with scissors. School cannot accept any responsibility if after reading this email you fall off a ladder."

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    @scrochford and pete - that is not really true, as the site I linked to says. If your email declares that the information within it is confidential, then it is confidential - and breaching that would have some form of weight in court. It isn't 'binding', but it has weight, which is the reason why disclaimers are used.
    The weight is determined by the court and they are free to ignore it. When was the last time you read an email disclaimer?

    If $company_employee emails $customer and calls them a complete nobber, having a disclaimer tacked onto the end by the mailserver won't help them. A reasonable person would argue that the employee should have received instruction that such is never acceptable and the company is liable for the actions of it's agents.

    Overuse of disclaimers dilutes any effectiveness.

    If my mailserver attaches a disclaimer to each and every email I send, few people will read it. The more I correspond with this person, the less likely they are to read the disclaimer (for changes or references to hippos).

    If, however, I normally sign off with:

    --
    My Name
    Schoolname | Contact Phone + Extension

    But occasionally (when appropriate - i.e Serious Business) I do use a Big Obvious Disclaimer that says:

    "Confidential, please do not disclose" (or whatever)

    The very fact that my use is selective and appropriate means the recipient is more likely to notice it, and it could be argued in court that they should have noticed it, since it's out of tune with my usual correspondance.

  13. #12

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    The weight is determined by the court and they are free to ignore it. When was the last time you read an email disclaimer?

    If $company_employee emails $customer and calls them a complete nobber, having a disclaimer tacked onto the end by the mailserver won't help them. A reasonable person would argue that the employee should have received instruction that such is never acceptable and the company is liable for the actions of it's agents.

    Overuse of disclaimers dilutes any effectiveness.

    If my mailserver attaches a disclaimer to each and every email I send, few people will read it. The more I correspond with this person, the less likely they are to read the disclaimer (for changes or references to hippos).

    If, however, I normally sign off with:

    --
    My Name
    Schoolname | Contact Phone + Extension

    But occasionally (when appropriate - i.e Serious Business) I do use a Big Obvious Disclaimer that says:

    "Confidential, please do not disclose" (or whatever)

    The very fact that my use is selective and appropriate means the recipient is more likely to notice it, and it could be argued in court that they should have noticed it, since it's out of tune with my usual correspondance.
    Remember, civil court has a much lower standard required for a ruling against you. If someone had a 'the information in this email is confidential' message, that reaffirms the normal expectation that information sent between people is confidential (which, if you look at law regarding opening someone else's mail (without reasonable excuse, even if misdelivered), you will find is a criminal offense). The same law could be presented as support in a civil case due to the intent of the law (it wouldn't be used in a criminal case though).

    Publishing, or similar, an email which you got in error is breaching that person's copyright. Copyright requires an explicit license. If an email contains a line stating that if the email is received in error it must be deleted, then doing anything else with it is a breach of copyright.

  14. #13

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Apart from the fact that email is an open text carrier and can be intercepted at multiple times and multiple way. Civil court rulings are commonly found only to rule where there is malicious intent, it has been done for personal and financial gain or to support cases of slander / libel.

    The most common usage of email disclaimers is to support internal disciplinary matters as another way of hammering staff that send stuff to people they shouldn't. If you send an email to someone outside your establishment with details that you shouldn't have then it is *you* the disclaimers tend to be aimed at ... and add to the disciplinary!

    Disclaimers are another part of blame management and should be covered by your contract and the AUP anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    If someone had a 'the information in this email is confidential' message, that reaffirms the normal expectation that information sent between people is confidential (which, if you look at law regarding opening someone else's mail (without reasonable excuse, even if misdelivered), you will find is a criminal offense). The same law could be presented as support in a civil case due to the intent of the law (it wouldn't be used in a criminal case though).

    Publishing, or similar, an email which you got in error is breaching that person's copyright. Copyright requires an explicit license. If an email contains a line stating that if the email is received in error it must be deleted, then doing anything else with it is a breach of copyright.
    1) You're basing your argument on the assumption that people actually read email disclaimers - most don't. If a reasonable person is unlikely to read a disclaimer, "but we had a disclaimer" won't stand up against a decent solicitor.

    2) It's significantly harder to open someone else's physical postal mail than it is to open a misdelivered email. It's reasonable for me to assume that anything sent to my email account is intended for me, unless it's explicitly clear that it's not. Even were the information obviously highly confidential, there are still cases (evidence of criminal activity, whistleblowing, breach of regulation) where I would be justified in acting upon and passing that information on to the relevant authorities.

    3) How copyrightable an email is is open to debate:

    "Not every letter or email will enjoy copyright protection, which is reserved for works which involve original skill or labour and which do not involve copying the work of another person. Originality in this context does not require the work to be an original or inventive thought; it only requires originality in the execution or expression of the thought. However, where existing subject matter is used by an author, independent skill must be applied to justify copyright protection for a resulting work."

    "If nothing else, even if it is established that a particular business email qualifies for copyright protection, it may be difficult or impossible to quantify any financial loss, meaning that somebody could sue, win a finding of copyright infringement and receive zero damages."

    From here, regarding the UK High Court ruling: Forwarding an email can infringe copyright | Pinsent Masons LLP

    But I think we've skewed the OPs thread enough.

  16. #15
    enjay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    1) You're basing your argument on the assumption that people actually read email disclaimers - most don't. If a reasonable person is unlikely to read a disclaimer, "but we had a disclaimer" won't stand up against a decent solicitor.
    Piffle, surely! The fact that someone hasn't read something doesn't mean it isn't true and applicable. I've not read every law of this country - and to be honest have only got other people's word for it that murder is wrong, for example - but if I killed someone, I wouldn't go to court relying on "I didn't read the statutes, therefore they don't apply". Ignorance is no excuse, and ignorance of the law doesn't negate the law's relevance.

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