Our Lawyers Advised This Trope
"Based on the advice of our lawyers, we've never heard of a musical based on the life of Eva Peron."In the interests of full disclosure, we are describing Our Lawyers Advised This Trope here. Pursuant to the avoidance of unnecessary civil and criminal litigation, a variety of disclaimers, notices, and even changes to the actual work, are present in modern fiction, usually in the packaging of said works, before the beginning if applicable, or during the opening and/or ending credits if applicable. These may be mandated with threats of legal actions by government bodies or could be attempts by the well advised creators to reduce their vulnerability to civil litigation from civilian citizens. Please note that these threats may or may not be actually true, considering the number of people who do exactly the opposite of this disclaimer and still roam the streets at night, but we are heavily implying that you follow them anyway. Parodies of the trope may, or may not, have some overlap with Suspiciously Specific Denial. See separate documents, heretofore referred to as the Sub Tropes of this Super Trope, called This Is a Work of Fiction and Don't Try This at Home, for instances relating to said notices. Our lawyers recommend you see also Content Warnings, No Animals Were Harmed, Side Effects Include....
— The Simpsons: The President Wore Pearls
Within the following folder are, to the degree and/or extent which is so far known to us, et alii our lawyers, Straight Examples:
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Anime and Manga
- The Excel Saga DVDs from ADV Films actually add in-series jokes to the FBI warning at the beginning of the disc. Here's the screenshot◊; hopefully TV Tropes won't be prosecuted under the Don't Toucha My Toot-Toot Pact for posting this...
- Full Metal Panic!!:
The author happens to harbor no ill will against a certain country that is integral to the plot. I was limited to choosing a dictatorship reachable by domestic flight. So, to those from that country, please don't abduct me. On the other hand, if I disappear or die in an accident—or if there's a mysterious fire at Fujimi Books—you readers know where to start the investigation.
- The North American release of the anime has a different character voicing over the FBI warning at the beginning of each disc. The FBI has never been cuter than when advocated by Tessa Testarossa. "You wouldn't want me to have to put a cruise missile down your chimney, would you?" or scarier when advocated by Gauron: "Look, I'm a businessman, and digital piracy is bad for business. So don't do it, or else you and I might have to have some words in the future, got it friend?"
- Shouji Gatou gives one of these at the end of the first Full Metal Panic! novel, on his use of the country of North Korea
- The Uta Kata DVDs also feature disclaimers narrated by the main characters, who, in this example, discuss the finer points of the message.
Ichika: The video, audio, packaging, and all contents of this work are the property of the copyright holders. The only rights granted to you are for personal viewing within your own household.Manatsu: It says, “in your household,” right? So if you live alone, then that’s just one person.Ichika: Any other uses, for example secondary works, modification, screenings, broadcast, or cable broadcasting, cause the copyright holders serious damages, and is strictly prohibited by law.Manatsu: But if you’ve got like a huge family, and a ton of them all get together during New Year’s or Obon, and you show it to your family of more than like, 100 people... That’s basically a screening, right? I wonder how that would work?Ichika: Eh... Ehh?
- The Blu-ray release of Macross: Do You Remember Love has Mika Doi reading the Japanese anti-piracy warning in the character of Misa Hayase as if it were an announcement from the bridge of the Macross.
- The final page of The View Askewniverse comic Chasing Dogma shows Jay uttering the following disclaimer:
"So's we don't get sued, I just wanna remind all you knee-jerk fucks out there that this is a work of parody. Doogie doesn't really make porn ... not that I know of anyway. And Fred Rogers is probably a saint of a guy. Federal Wildlife Marshals aren't nearly as stupid as they're portrayed here, and John Hughes has never led anyone to believe that Shermer really exists. And I never ... NEVER ... jerked no guys off. Snoogans."
- Any issue of The Beano in days gone by would have included its child characters, caught out in mischief, being up-ended over an adult's lap and roundly spanked for their sin with hand, slipper, cane or belt. Corporal punishment in D.C. Thompson-published comics lasted long after its abolition in schools. The issue was only really confronted when Scotland passed laws to make physical punishment of children an act of illegal child abuse. Therefore the Dundee-based publishers of these comics could not be seen condoning actions likely to breach Scottish law. It was well into the 1990's when the father of Dennis The Menace kept his slippers exclusively for wear on his feet, and the long-suffering teacher of the Bash Street Kids hung up his cane for the last time.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, a referenced book which describes the exact recipe for a love potion has a legal warning before it, saying not to try this at home. Upon immediately trying it at home, the Lemony Narrator writes in her letter of formal complaint to the publishers that "before their lawyers point this out, while she did see the warning beforehand, she chose not to acknowledge it, so she couldn't possibly be held accountable for that."
- Most authors of Fan Fic feel a need at some point to add a polite disclaimer stating they have no title to the characters and have no desire or interest in making money from somebody else's intellectual property. This could be viewed as careful prudence, or common courtesy to the original author.
- Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe both contain notices stating that, according to the US Air Force, the events of the films could never take place. Given that both movies are about accidental nuclear war, this was probably reassuring to the audience.
- Or the filmmakers were using a Suspiciously Specific Denial to imply that they could take place. Both movies came out in 1964, and while distrust in the government then was not quite as widespread as it would become by the end of the decade, there were a substantial number of people who, informed by the government that something couldn't possibly happen, would immediately start to regard it as something to be legitimately worried about.
- In a variation with a dash of Political Correctness Gone Mad, the Mr. Magoo live-action film featured a disclaimer saying that it was "not intended as an accurate portrayal of blindness or poor eyesight." To which Roger Ebert said: "I think we should stage an international search to find one single person who thinks the film is intended as such a portrayal, and introduce that person to the author of the disclaimer, as they will have a lot in common, including complete detachment from reality."
- The Hungarian comedy-drama Kontroll, about a group of eccentric ticket inspectors on the Budapest Metro, started with a stiff address by a member of the Metro management complimenting the director's skill but warning people not to take it as an accurate depiction of the system.
- Borat: "selling piratings of this moviedisc will result in punishment by crushing"
- The Fight Club DVD had a warning from Tyler Durden. Though if you make the effort to freeze-frame the warning so you can read it, it tells you to get out and do something instead of wasting your life reading secret messages on DVDs.
- The Ring had noises in the background during the FBI warning.
- There was a video montage of male-male kissing scenes from Hollywood films that made the rounds a few years back, which came with a disclaimer along the lines of "If you find this material offensive, we suggest you watch it over and over until you become desensitized."
- Humorously done in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. The opening includes a little old-time routine about theater etiquette before Mastodon takes over to add on to said etiquette before finishing with warning about how the movie was copyrighted by Time Warner, video taping it would result in punishment from Satan and selling it on eBay will result in your wife being torn in half.
- Mr. Huph of The Incredibles uses this trope while berating Bob for helping customers file insurance claims.
Bob: Are you saying we shouldn't help our customers?
Mr. Huph: [sighs] The law requires that I answer 'no.'
- Scarface1983 started with a disclaimer that the film does not depict Cuban-Americans in a representative way.
- In The Fifth Elephant, the emergency signal flare rockets for the clacks tower have the warning "Do Not Place In Mouth". This turns out to foreshadow how Vimes kills Wolfgang (a werewolf that can only be killed by fire or silver): he tricks him into catching one of the rockets in his mouth before the flare goes off.
- Did it contain nuts too?
- This may be a shout-out to a certain Darwin Award winner who was posing for a photograph with a lit firework clenched between his teeth, failed to spit it out in time and blew his head off.
- Dave Barry sent this up in Dave Barry Slept Here, in which the text is interrupted early on by an advisement to include more information about the accomplishments of women and minorities, or else "this book will not be approved for purchase by public school systems in absolutely vast quantities." Afterward, the narrator states:
"Another important fact we just now remembered is that during the colonial era women and minority groups were making many contributions, which we are certain that they will continue to do at regularly spaced intervals throughout the course of the book."
- Accordingly, about once a chapter thereafter he inserts a sentence about "all the enormous contributions by women and minority groups, despite having the same legal rights as gravel."
- The Foundation books take care to point out that the quotations from the Encyclopedia Galactica are reproduced with the permission of the Encyclopedia's (fictional) publishing company.
- The Author's Foreword in The Pale King is rife with this. David Foster Wallace even uses his footnotes to apologize for the abundance of apparently necessary legal writing.
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!:
"You'll notice more obscenity than we usually use. That's not just because it's on Showtime, and we want to get some attention. It's also a legal matter. If one calls people liars and quacks, one can be sued and lose a lot of one's money. But "motherfuckers" and "assholes" is pretty safe. If we said it was all scams, we could also be in trouble. But BULLSHIT, oddly, is safe. So forgive all the bullshit language. We're trying to talk about the truth without spending the rest of our lives in court because of litigious motherfuckers!"
- The Multilevel Marketing episode hung a giant lampshade on it. They were standing in front of a Pyramid (dressed as Pharaohs) talking to their lawyer that they cannot describe the companies in the words they knew they really were.
- MythBusters has the classic "Please, don't try anything you're about to see at home." It was usually followed up by one of these:
- "We're what you call 'experts'."
- "It's safer that way."
- Satirical news quiz Have I Got News for You has a habit of adding "...allegedly" after saying anything that could get them sued. Despite the fact the players know that it has no legal effect whatsoever, and have commented on it.
- And they were actually charged with contempt of court and fined for the joke, "The BBC are in fact cracking down on references to Ian and Kevin Maxwell just in case programme-makers appear biased in their treatment of these two heartless, scheming bastards." The heartless scheming bastards' trial was about to start, and pointing out on television that they're heartless scheming bastards risks prejudicing the jury. There's footage from the taping of Ian Hislop expressing concern over leaving the joke in, but leave it in they did.
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks had the host Simon Amstel speculate with Noel Fielding about how Courtney Love would beat the stuffing out of Amstel.
"Or she could kill me and make it look like suicide!
- Immediately captioned by the Producers with a disclaimer "Simon Amstel is definetely wrong."
- DVDs by Blue Rhino, including Beast Wars and Mystery Science Theater 3000, have a pen drawing glasses and a mustache over J. Edgar Hoover's face during the FBI Warning. They also did this on VHS tapes as early as the '90s.
- The Daily Show, Global Edition (which, in some countries, is shown on 24-hour news networks):
The show you are about to watch is a news parody. Its stories are not fact checked. Its reporters are not journalists. And its opinions are not fully thought through.
- This Hour Has 22 Minutes is a satirical examination of daily events. Often followed by a satirical "Warning!" based on an examination of daily events.
- Happens all the time on 10 O'Clock Live with Jimmy Carr's segments. Particularly funny because it is live and you almost hear the pain of the show's lawyers and producers as they shout in Carr's earpiece to clear up any "misinterpretation" that might have arisen with his completely innocent monologues.
- The JAG episode Rogue began with a statement the story was not based on any real person or event, however anyone who had read the Rogue Warrior novels would know this is based on the real and fictional exploits of Richard Marcinko, down to phoning a Commanding Officer at the last minute to confirm orders thus giving carte blanche to well, go rogue (Marcinko made a habit of informing his superiors of his actions, before usually being unable to receive orders not to.)
- The X-Files credits included the sentence "This production has not been approved, endorsed or authorized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- "Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued" by Fall Out Boy. Technically a subversive parody, since their lawyers really did make them change the name of the song. (From "My Name is David Ruffin... and These Are The Temptations".)
- The Offspring has a very sarcastic track on Ixnay On the Hombre titled "Disclaimer", as seen on the Quotes page.
- The BBC demanded that The Monkees song "Randy Scouse Git" (a title deemed a tad offensive) be given an alternative title or it could not be played on-air. So its official title in the UK became "Alternate Title".
- Ironically, songwriter Micky Dolenz had learned the expression "randy Scouse git" from watching Til Death Do Us Part, a sitcom that aired on BBC television.
- Irish folk-rockers the Horslips subverted this trope with a very large disclaimer on one LP sleeve. At the time of the official music industry disclaimer Home Taping is Killing Music! followed by a list of imperativesnote , a large banner advert on the gatefold sleeve read You cannot, will not, shall not, are not allowed to, et c. If in doubt, consult your dealer.
- When Australian band TISM were sued by artist Ken Done for using cover art that parodied his work for their EP Australia The Lucky Cunt, it was re-issued with a new cover and the title Censored Due To Legal Advice.
- Stephen Fry used to have a radio show called Saturday Night Fry. From the intro to the first episode:
"It may be that some listeners will find some parts of this program rather badly written and incompetently performed."
- Before beginning the quiz portion of Whad Ya Know, host Michael Feldman always calls for a volunteer from the audience to read The Four Disclaimers:
1. All questions used on Whad'Ya Know have been painstakingly researched, although the answers have not. Ambiguous, misleading, or poorly worded questions are par for the course. Listeners who are sticklers for the truth should get their own shows.(The second disclaimer is a Couch Gag.)3. Persons employed by the International House of Radio or its member stations are lucky to be working at all, let along tying up the office phones trying to play the quiz. Listeners who have won recently should sit on their hands and let someone else have a chance for a change.4. All opinions expressed on Whad'Ya Know are well-reasoned and insightful. Needless to say, they are not those of the International House of Radio, its member stations, or lackeys. Anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight.
- James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game. I imagine you can guess whose name needed changing.
- Magic: The Gathering joke sets like Unhinged occasionally uses this for humorous flavor texts. For example:
Our lawyers say no matter how funny it would be, we can't encourage players to eat the cards. Hear that? Whatever you do, don't eat the delicious cards.
"When the chosen hand isn't behind it's owner's back, sacrifice Farewell To Arms. If you do, that player discards his or her hand...Of cards (The lawyers wouldn't let us do it the other way.)"
- Another example of the parody on Farewell to Arms:
- The Steam-Tech GURPS supplement includes a robot detective called the Holmes-1, which sucks evidence into an internal storage facility through a Meerchaum pipe, is protected from the elements with an Inverness cape and deerstalker hat, and has a vocabulary that rather overuses the word "elementary". The advertising copy that introduces it concludes:
(Legal Notice: The Holmes-1 Detection Automaton is neither designed nor meant to resemble nor suggest to the public in any way the likeness or mannerisms of Mr Holmes of Baker Street.)
- The prologue of the musical Louisiana Purchase had a lawyer warning the show's producer that he and the show's authors could be sued by all the recognizable people in it, even though their names were changed. His advice is to add a disclaimer saying that This Is a Work of Fiction, and the Opening Chorus comes on to assert that the characters, the state of Louisiana, and everything else in the show is "mythical."
- Nintendo's safety warnings on bootup of the Wii and Nintendo DS systems and their successors.
- Adverts for 6th-gen and earlier video game titles would often feature flashy rendered or FMV visuals which were much more impressive than the consoles could produce, resulting in the standard disclaimer, "Not representative of in-game graphics" (or alternately "Not actual gameplay"). Since this became the accepted norm, it is amusing that publishers often have an 'anti-disclaimer' on 7th-gen titles to let us know that now the games actually do look that good. Still shown straight occasionally to clear up any confusions over adverts only showing cut-scenes and not the actual gameplay.
- Cannon Fodder: "This game is not endorsed in any way by the Royal British Leagion" [sic]. See The Poppy for why this was present, but for those too lazy to click, suffice it to say that there is one symbolic flower you just do not screw about with in Britain.
- Assassin's Creed and its successors, due to their interaction with often controversial historical periods and events, have a message on startup that asserts the games are made by people "of all faiths and beliefs," and reminds the audience that the product is in fact fictional.
- In Beavis and Butthead in Virtual Stupidity, a screen of copyright notices is captioned "Legal Crap." This is followed by the same Don't Try This at Home disclaimer as in the cartoon.
- On some German game packages, there is the written notice that analphabets can't play the game in question. (So, they address people who are unable to read in written form.)
- Primal Rage had a No Animals Were Harmed disclaimer on the demo screen. Whether this was a joke or the developers actually thought the ASPCA might have taken notice of a Fighting Game with dinosaurs and giant apes isn't clear.
- Red vs. Blue made fun of those too. For the season one disc, the sign read something to the lines of "do not steal this disc, but you already know this. So don't eat it or throw it at your sister either." Then it switched to Spanish, which was the same as English, but with accent marks placed at random. One of the other seasons' DVDs' Spanish FBI warning had one sentence of Spanish followed by something like "This is basically the message above only in Spanish. To be honest, we only took one year of Spanish so the only phrases we know are 'Happy birthday!' and 'My cousin likes to walk on the beach.'"
- The Homestar Runner DVDs have characters showing up during the FBI warning and commenting (for example, Homestar pops up during one warning and declares it "Bowwwwinnnngggg!", while in another Coach Z interprets it as a rap song).
- Napster Bad: The original Flash movie opens with disclaimers that the opinions (not) expressed by Metallica in the movie are not necessarily the animators' opinion and that viewer discretion is advised due to strong language, then notes "We say this only because we're afraid Metallica might come after us, too, when and if they see this."
- The disclaimers that start every episode of Dragon Ball Z Abridged utilize this.
- A straight example written as a parody from "Dave does the Blog" notes 'The views expressed by me on this weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, my church, my party, my candidate, my community, my wife, my friends, or, on occasion, myself.'
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has an 'ELE' warning on the DVD.
- The warning on Neil Cicierega's New Kids on the Rock DVD admits that they really have no way of knowing whether you do any of the things they're warning you against.
- On the infamous shock site "Goatse.cx", the following text was displayed above said shock image:
The goatse.cx lawyer has informed us that we need a warning! So.. if you are under the age of 18 or find this photograph offensive, please don't look at it. Thank you!
- Skippy's List has examples:
I don't mind if you want to quote a few items from my list of your site. But please do not copy the list in it's entirety.
- MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch opened with a standard disclaimer about celebrity voices being impersonated, blah blah blah...then added at the bottom in large letters, "BESIDES, IT'S ONLY CLAY!"
- From season 3 onwards of Beavis And Butthead:
"Beavis & Butt-Head are not role models. They're not even human; they're cartoons. Some of the things they do would cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. So to put it another way: don't try this at home."
- This was the result of kids who watch the show try to emulate the duo's antics, namely Beavis' "Fire! Fire!"
- South Park's opening disclaimer:
"All characters and events in this show —even those based on real people— are entirely fictional. All celebrity voices are impersonated ... poorly. The following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone."
- Ironically, some networks have broadcast it with a genuine disclaimer either before or instead of the joke one.
- The ending credits of Trapped in the Closet ended with all of the names in the credits replaced with "John Smith" or "Jane Smith" because of the propensity of the Church of Happyology to sue their way out of trouble under various copyright and trademark laws.
- On one of the Futurama DVDs, an alien-language FBI warning screen displays after the usual one.
- In the Invader Zim episode "FBI Warning of Doom", the FBI Warning Of Doom! on a rented DVD makes Zim believe he's being watched by the FBI.
- An episode of The Simpsons that was based on the musical Evita had the following disclaimer at the end:
On the advice of our lawyers we swear we have never heard of a musical based on the life of Eva Peron.
Homer: Oh, why won't anyone give me an award?Lisa: You won a Grammy.Homer: I mean an award that's worth winning!(Words run across bottom of screen: "LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Mr. Simpson's views do not match those of the producers, who don't consider the Grammy an award at all.")
- In another episode, an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon is followed by the warning "The preceding cartoon contained scenes of graphic violence and should not have been watched by young children".
- In another episode, a talent show had a disclaimer stating it wasn't based on American Idol and that they had never heard about American Idol.
- Also, the episode where Homer complains about not receiving any awards when everyone else in Springfield has.
- From The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, the episode "Night Drop": "Do not copy this tape, or we will find you and flick your ear."
- Also from The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, one episode featured Earth being repossessed by Da King of an alien planet. When Felix demanded to know what Da King did to Earth, he showed a film to explain it. The film had an FBI warning stating unauthorized duplication would result in "violent-type actions".
- Copyright and trademark notices in all commercially available fiction.
- It was a virtually automatic acknowledgment of how bad a movie was, around the 1980s, that the intensity of the wording of the copyright notice was inversely proportional to how likely it was someone would pirate it. Until the use of the Interpol notices became almost universal on movies, the rare movie that had one was probably so awful that you didn't even need to watch the movie to know how bad it was.
- A Japanese government website circa 2006 had a copyright notice in English with the words "All Rights Reserved." This is a notice for obtaining protection under the Buenos Aires' Convention, to which Japan is not a party. The whole use of the phrase was absolutely meaningless because both Japan and every member of the Buenos Aires' Convention is a member of the Berne Convention, which doesn't require copyright notices in the first place.
- The "FBI Warning" found in countless home video formats over the years. They often now also appear on CD cases because of the whole Napster/MP3 fiasco.
- The Interpol warning. Just like the FBI warning, but international and frequently multilingual.
- "If you find yourself traumatized by what you've seen here, call 555-xxxx"
- "Professional driver on closed course"
- "Overseas model shown" — Just in case there's any confusion from this ad, the vehicle sold in this country will have the steering wheel on the correct side.
- "Warning: The beverage you're about to enjoy is extremely hot." This one came about after a woman got third-degree burns from a cup of McDonald's coffee. The suit she filed is often laughed at and cited as an example of the problems with the American legal system, but it's more of an example of a "Lack of Institutional Control" on the part of either the Franchisee or McDonalds Corporate itself. To be more specific, the problem was that this McDonald's was serving its coffee significantly hotter than usual (like over 180 degrees rather than a more typical 140 or so), and they (not just McDonald's generally, but that specific store) had been previously sued by other people for the same thing. The plaintiff was only suing for her actual medical expenses, but the judge essentially said "Clearly it's going to take a truly outrageous amount of pain and suffering damages to make you actually take notice and stop this, so okay, here you go."
- Anything required by The Comics Code, MPAA rating system, ESRB, Woman's Christian Temperance Union rules, or any Censorship Bureau.
- Anything required by the FCC, an American agency with broad scope. One must be very careful here due to the lack of a statute of limitations, as evidenced by a recent obscenity charge caused by a mid-1990s NYPD Blue episode.
- "The opinions expressed in the following (episode, speech) do not necessarily represent those of this station."
- "This copyrighted telecast is presented by the authority of the office of the commissioner of [insert major sport here or sporting organization here], and may not be retransmitted in any form, or have its facts disseminated without express written consent".
- The licenses for a lot of software, even including web browsers and iTunes, include warnings like
You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.You further acknowledge that the software is not intended or suitable for use in situations or environments where the failure of, or errors or inaccuracies in the content, data or information provided by, the software could lead to death, personal injury, or severe physical or environmental damage, including without limitation the operation of nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation or communication systems, air traffic control, life support or weapons systems.
- SURGEON-GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking is a really bad idea and it causes lung cancer among other ailments.
- In Canada, those labels have been mandated by the courts, not advised by the tobacco company lawyers, and they come with gruesome pictures, to boot.
- Also in Australia too, and now in plain packets.
- They exist in the UK too, complete with gruesome pictures.
- In Canada, those labels have been mandated by the courts, not advised by the tobacco company lawyers, and they come with gruesome pictures, to boot.
- The so-called "quack Miranda warning" is a relatively new one in the US for any Spice Rack Panacea: "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease."
- Some cookbooks and other collections of food writing have a warning not to alter the recipes in any way. Conversely, several prepackaged dinners and mixes have "Ovens vary; cooking time may need to be adjusted". So, in essence, if something went wrong with the dish, it's either your fault for deviating from the recipe, or your oven's fault for not being a lab-controlled oven.
- "Requesting rare or medium-rare meats (or undercooked eggs) may increase your risk of foodborne illness." Similarly for Frozen dinners: "Do not cook in microwaves under 1100 watts as product may not cook thoroughly."
- The disclaimers that show up on kids' superhero costumes: Use of this costume does not enable wearer to fly. Apparently, a number of kids died thinking otherwise—granted, younger children may not always be able to separate fact and fiction, so possibly justified.
- ThinkGeek sells a letter opener shaped like a batarang as a tie in to Batman: Arkham Knight. Its three-line description reads:
Look, we know you're going to throw it
But our lawyers wanted us to remind you not to aim it at other humans
And that what we're selling you is a LETTER OPENER
- Two New British Universities risked legal difficulties with the names they selected after being allowed to rebrand themselves from their prior status as polytechnics and tech colleges. note . In the first instance, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAn).note The former Preston Polytechnic sailed close to the wind of legal action by seeking to style itself UCLA — University of Central LAncashire. While the chances of Preston being confused with Los Angeles are vanishingly small — save by those who seriously failed Geography — legal advice insisted that a small case n" should be added. The "n", in the form "UCLAn", is very small and inobtrusive.
- In the second case, when the North-East Wales Institute of Techology (Wrexham) was allowed to leap all the way to University status, at first it named itself "Yale University" after one of its founder colleges — in fact, named for the same Mr Yale who emigrated to the USA and founded a slightly more obscure place of learning near Boston. Even though NEWI had the name first, the superior legal firepower of Yale University, USA, acted as a deterrent. Although the Welsh-language Coleg Ial was permitted. Wrexham University now trades under the name Prifysgol Owain Glyndwr/Owen Glendower University.
- In recent times, poker websites and one-week fantasy sports websites in America (where online gambling is illegal in most states) have put up a disclaimer claiming that they are "not a gambling website", despite advertising how you can win money for spending money on their games. The FCC and FTC have shut down poker websites (maintaining that despite their disclaimer, they are in fact gambling websites), but have yet to do so with one-week fantasy sports sites...yet.
Not Straight Examples
Anime and Manga
- A weird one in The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. While making their student film, Haruhi's subconscious Reality Warper powers start acting up, causing Mikuru to start shooting Eye Beams around, and a random cat they picked up to start talking. Haruhi is the only one who doesn't see any of this, so the rest of the brigade realize they need to convince her none of it is real without alerting her that it's, you know, real. Koizumi's suggestion is to end the movie with All Just a Dream, but that idea is shot down. Kyon uses this trope instead.
Haruhi: (voiceover the end credits) This story is a work of fiction. All character names, organizations, incidents and any other names, phenomena and such, are fictional as well. It's all made up. Even if it resembles someone, it's probably just a coincidence. Oh, except for the commercials! Shop at Omori Electronics and Yamatsuchi Model Shop for great deals. Stop by and buy! Huh? I gotta say it again? This story is a work of fiction. All character names, organizations, incidents and any other names... Hey Kyon! Why do I have to say all this stuff anyway? I mean, it's totally obvious.Kyon: Because! Now do it again!Haruhi: Ugh, fine... (bored tone) This film is a work of fiction...
- Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie, being made up of footage of American nuclear tests, has an interesting version of this: "No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. Some goats, pigs, and sheep were nuked in the making of the original films."
- The film version of How To Eat Fried Worms had the disclaimer, "No worms were harmed during the making of this film." Then it cut to the part where a worm placed in a microwave to heat exploded and added, "Including this one."
- Fido: "No zombies were harmed during the making of this film."
- No Bed For Bacon by Caryl Brahms and S. J. Simon — which is deliberately set in The Theme Park Version of Elizabethan England — has the disclaimer "Warning to Scholars: This book is fundamentally unsound."
- Good Omens has near the beginning the disclaimer: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not try it in your own home."
- The Muppets Character Encyclopedia entry for Spa'am (the Wild Boar Chief from Muppet Treasure Island) includes the following:
Not-So-Fine-PrintThe character Spa'am is not related in any way to any other person, animal, character, hologram, vehicle, place or canned luncheon meat. (Our lawyers made us put this in — we have no idea why.)
- This is a reference to an actual lawsuit Hormel Foods issued against the Muppets when the character was introduced. They lost, with the judgement snarkily observing that "by now Hormel should be inured to any such ridicule" and "one might think Hormel would welcome the association with a genuine source of pork".
- Also parodied in Garth Marenghis Darkplace with the line "I do not believe that any form of life, be it human, animal, or plant, should be hurt in the making of a television programme. So I personally feel really bad about that cat we killed."
- The MTV show Fur TV started each episode with an overly long viewer warning. It changed every episode too, so it doubled as a sneak preview.
Warning: This show contains adult humor, strong language, random acts of violence, shocking images, and scenes of an sexually explicit nature between humans and puppets, which some viewers may find offensive.
- In one episode of Insomniac with Dave Attell, Dave spends some time with some government employees tasked with hunting an invasive rodent species with airsoft rifles to control their population. At the conclusion of the segment, he informs the camera that "a lot of animals were harmed in the making of this program".
- Parodied in an episode of Las Vegas in which Jean-Claude Van Damme is killed in a rooftop motorcycle movie stunt gone wrong. According to the credits, "No Jean-Claude Van Dammes were killed in the making of this episode".
- The MythBusters has had a few gags of this nature throughout the series, mixed in with their much more serious warnings not to try what they do on the show. One memorable one from Lead Balloon involves Adam discussing the sex appeal of Jamie's walrus mustache, while they're dissipating static electricity from adhesive tape on their facial hair.
Adam: There's women out there going, "Oh, I wish I was that piece of tape right now!"Jamie: Ya think?Adam: I'm sure of it. [looking at the camera] Raise your hand. Yeah, you!Jamie: Gimme a break.Rob Lee: The producers of MythBusters are not responsible for any marital issues resulting from raised arms.
- There was an Australian sketch show a few years back that started one episode with a recording of a sheep grazing and a voiceover announcing "no animals were harmed in the making of this show... except for this sheep". Cue the sheep being "blown up".
- Played with by Andy Levy on Red Eye With Greg Gutfeld, who states "As always, by the way, legal asks me to point out that I am not a lawyer. But I am Jewish, so we can assume I could be if I wanted to."
- Greg: "Or a doctor."Andy: "Yeah, absolutely."Isiah: "Producer."Andy: "What was that?"Bill: "He said 'Go back to Israel.' It was terrible."
- On How I Met Your Mother, Robin's song "P.S. I Love You" includes the lyrics, "The lawyers at the record company / made me promise to say / that the views expressed in this song do not necessarily reflect the views of Dominant Records or any of its subsidiaries."
- Saturday Night Live:
- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
- The Mattress Tag Gag isn't possible, because the tags say "Under penalty of law, this tag is not to be removed except by the consumer." So, you're okay with ripping it off. The salesman, on the other hand...
- Please note, however, that removing the tag may actually void the warranty on the mattress. Warranties that forbid tag removal often accompany mattresses whose tags are placed right where accidental removal during ordinary sheet changing is quite likely. Please read the fine print before engaging in tag violations.
- Pandemonio has a parody of the cautionary "this is fictional" disclaimers found in White Wolf and other supernatural horror RPGs. It's extremely stealth, up until the last line, where instead of warning against any of the "evil" actions depicted in the game, it warns that Neoplastic Press does not condone the practice of monotheism.
- The Dungeons & Dragons 5E Basic Rules contain the following disclaimer:
Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, "Are you really sure?"
- Sonic Colors: "Please keep your hands and feet in the car at all times, because there are tiny asteroids traveling at incredible speed hurtling through space. Keeping your hands and feet in the car won't prevent you from being hit, but our lawyers tell us we have to say it anyway."
- Parodied in the credits of the original Spyro the Dragon games. "No sheep were harmed in the production of this game."
Qwark Enterprises is not responsible for sprains, broken bones, snapped tendons, bruised egos or accidental death incurred while taking the challenge.
- Later repeated in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, which was made by the same developers. It also adds, "Except for one. He had it coming to him."
- Qwark featured one or two of these at the end of his own advertisements in the first game, too.
- And also parodied at the end of a campaign in Left 4 Dead, in which case it is used to show the body count.
- Later repeated in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, which was made by the same developers. It also adds, "Except for one. He had it coming to him."
- Every second-generation Sierra game starts with an appeal to please not make illegal copies because they worked hard on creating this game. They went for the moral angle instead of the legal one. Several of those games follow up with something like "...by the way, the game is unplayable without the information contained in the manual. It's not just the law, it's a good idea!" Confusingly, this follow up was actually false in some games, that were perfectly playable without the manual.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, the Courier can take a tour of the headquarters of REPCONN, a pre-War rocket manufacturer that used a wide variety of nuclear waste as fuel and had frequent problems with their prototypes exploding or crashing into people's homes. Every single exhibit on the tour features at least one (and usually two or three) legal disclaimers regarding the terminology used.
- Hane Hane Paradise parodies the typical Arcade Game territorial license warning screen:
THIS GAME IS DOWNLOAD AND USE IN JAPAN AND OTHER COUNTRIES.
NEVER INQUIRE OF THE MANUFACTURER BECAUSE I AM A FAN OF AND NOT PARTIES CONCERNED THOUGH THIS GAME LOOKS LIKE THE CERTAIN ARCADE GAME THAT A CERTAIN MANUFACTURER DEVELOPED EITHER.
- The manual of Boogerman makes a few cheeky additions to the otherwise standard warnings about handling the game cartridge, cautioning readers not to "bend it, crush it, or submerge it in liquids or boogers," and noting that "boogers will melt in extreme heat."
- Parodied in Darths & Droids. Pete, player of R2-D2, has a d20 that is carefully never described but is always apparently not completely safe when used. From The Rant, strip #909:
"Many of the things we depict in the comics, we encourage you to try in your own games.
"We disclaim all responsibility where Pete's dice are concerned."
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged has this to say right before a young Gohan gets kicked by Raditz: "We here at Team Four Star do not condone child violence... we do, however, find it hilarious."
- Also, before their blooper reels (which typically contain large amounts of swearing), there is the disclaimer: "Warning. The following contains language unsuitable for minors. If you are under the age of 18 and have not heard the word "fuck" before... well, ya have now."
- Parodied at the beginning of Doctor Steel's Propaganda DVDs. An FBI warning screen pops up... but the words are not what you were expecting.
- Spoony occasionally includes one right before a Crazy Awesome scene in the Reb Brown movie he's reviewing. For example:
Warning! What follows is the manliest thing ever recorded on film. Your balls may drop off in shame at the mere knowledge that you will never in your entire life do something half as manly.
- Parodied on a Zero Punctuation video when Yahtzee says the Paper Mario game he's reviewing isn't [a Paper Mario game] despite "looking like one and wearing the skin of one." He then says that he's not a fat woman, even if he- and then cuts himself off saying his lawyer has advised him not to finish the statement (accompanied with an image of his avatar wearing the bloody skin of a fat woman a la Michael Myers).
- In the Half in the Bag review of Jack and Jill, Mike and Jay make a very half-hearted attempt before making their case that the movie is basically a scheme to pump the cash from an inflated movie budget into the pockets of Sandler and his friends. Though the first two notes they start to read from their lawyers are themselves libelous (and even in the third, Mike has to change the word "cohorts" to "associates" as he is reading the statement.)
- Parodied in The Simpsons too, with "No dogs were harmed during the production of this episode. A cat threw up and somebody shot a duck, but that's it."
- The bonus short on the Ratatouille DVD ended with a parody disclaimer, with warnings about rat interaction varying from the reasonable (rat interaction can cause disease) to the outlandishly slanderous. (claims that rat interaction can lead to mutilation, and that all right-minded people know rats caused the Black Plague). Remy is offended, and protests loudly while trying to stop the disclaimer.
- The Curse of the Were-Rabbit has bunnies floating around during the credits. They end with "No rabbits were harmed during the making of this film" — and the last rabbit bumps its head on those words.
- Parodied in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Fun and Games". When Superman crashes in on Toyman (who is about to execute Bruno Mannheim) the villain throws something called "Dopey Dough" on him, which quickly starts to grow and spread.
Toyman: Uh, maybe you should read the label: "Dopey Dough is a lethal biochemical formula. Contact with the skin can prove fatal, as it won't stop growing until it asphyxiates its host. Not recommended for children under three.
- No Animals Were Harmed is for publicity reasons, not legal reasons. It's a certification from the American Humane Society.
- This actually has historical reasons for existing, though. According to The Other Wiki, the AHA disclaimer was brought on by controversy about a 1939 movie named Jessie James, in which a blindfolded horse was ridden off a cliff to its death. (Needless to say, said movie was not following the AHA guidelines.)
A Little From Column A, A Little From Column B
- From Kevin Smith's film Dogma, the following disclaimer ... over four separate screens ...
Disclaimer: 1) a renunciation of any claim to or connection with; 2) disavowal; 3) a statement made to save one's own ass; 4) a foresaid word for not being blamed later.
Though it'll go without saying ten minutes or so into these proceedings, View Askew would like to state that this film is from start to finish a work of comedic fantasy, not to be taken seriously. To insist that any of what follows is incendiary or inflammatory is to miss our intention and pass undue judgment; and passing judgment is reserved for God and God alone (this goes for you film critics too... just kidding).
So please before you think about hurting someone over this trifle of a film, remember: even God has a sense of humor. Just look at the Platypus. Thank you and enjoy the show.
P.S. We sincerely apologize to all Platypus enthusiasts out there who are offended by that thoughtless comment about Platypi. We at View Askew respect the noble Platypus, and it is not our intention to slight these stupid creatures in any way. Thank you again and enjoy the show.
- At the end of the Phantasm films (at least, from the second one onward), there is "Any unauthorised duplication will result in civil liability, criminal prosecution, and the wrath of the Tall Man."
- Airplane! used a standard disclaimer/copyright notice... except that it added "So There" at the very end.
- The Informant has this: "While this motion picture is based on real events, certain incidents and characters are composites, and dialog has been dramatized. So there."
- This from Slumber Party Massacre II:
Any unauthorized exhibition, distribution or copying of this film or any part thereof [including soundtrack] is an infringement of the relevant copyright and will subject the infringer to severe civil and criminal prosecution as well as a midnight call from the Driller-Killer.
- An American Werewolf in London (which director John Landis also reused in Michael Jackson's "Thriller"): "Any resemblance to any persons living, dead, or undead, is coincidental."
- From Not of This Earth (the Traci Lords version): "Any unauthorized exhibition, distribution or copying of this film or any part thereof (including soundtrack) is an infringement of the relevant copyright and will subject the infringer to severe civil and criminal prosecution... not to mention a one-way ticket to Davanna."
- The actual disclaimer of the hardcover edition of Kildar by John Ringo:
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book and series has no connection to reality. Any attempt by the reader to replicate any scene in this series it to be taken at the reader's own risk. For that matter, most of the actions of the main character are illegal under U.S. and international law as well as most of the stricter religions in the world. There is no Valley of the Keldara. There is no Kildar. And the idea of some Scotts and Vikings getting together to raid the Byzantine Empire is beyond ludicrous. The islands described in a previous book do not exist. Entire regions described in these books do not exist. Any attempt to learn anything from these books is disrecommended by the author, the publisher and the author's mother who wishes to state that he was a very nice boy and she doesn't know what went wrong.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Raoul Duke's lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, frequently began sentences with the phrase, "As your attorney, I advise you to...". The 'advice' was almost never legal, and in fact was often blatantly illegal, e.g., recommending that he take a hit of adrenochrome. Reportedly, Oscar Zeta Acosta, whom Dr. Gonzo was based off of, had this particular verbal habit in Real Life, hence Thompson's inclusion of it in the novel.
- Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe spoofed the "If you're traumatized call 555-xxxx" variation few times on the course of the show. The following example comes from the episode about news coverage.
If you have been affected by the issues in that picture phone the National Buzzsaw Incident Hotline on 0808-1dehblehdeh
- With OFCOM's strict rules about keeping opinions separate from news, editorial pieces are prefixed with Charlie Brooker saying "Remember, these are his views, not facts". One particularly controversial one, about media influence in Parliament, had Charlie Brooker repeating this over a stern red card reading "Viewer information hastily added following legal advice" for the best part of 30 seconds.
- The Arrested Development episode "Motherboy XXX" gave us this gem when Michael went to the hotel for the Motherboy pageant:
Michael:I'm here for Motherboy.Desk Clerk:You realize that's not the band.Narrator:Motherboy was also the name of a heavy metal band that rocked pretty hard throughout the seventies. We are legally obligated to make this distinction.
- When Laverne and Shirley was shown in certain countries, this disclaimer, or something similar to it, was shown before every episode.
Warning: The two women you are about to see have escaped from an insane asylum. Do not try to imitate their actions.
- MythBusters added their traditional (and deadly serious) warning to the million match heads experiment, and then Adam added this:
"If I find out that any of you tried this at home, I will personally come to your house and kick your butt!"
- White Wolf tabletop RPG books mostly contain some serious though tongue-in-cheek examples. Examples from Vampire: The Masquerade books usually start with the five words "You are not a vampire." and end with a suggestion that if you want to carry out various inhuman acts you should seek counselling and leave roleplayers to get on with their games. One Exalted disclaimer helpfully advises players that "You should not hit your friends or loved ones with swords."
- The Bretonnia'' Splatbook for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay starts with the disclaimer that Games Workshop, Black Industries and the author do not endorse the sexism which is part of the Bretonnia setting, and which was included because the author believed that women pretending to be men made interesting characters. The author also does not endorse fighting wars over insults, worshipping the Ruinous Powers or arbitrarily executing peasants.
- The DVD release for My Little Pony And Friends: "The End of Flutter Valley" and apparently many Rhino DVDs includes the standard copyright disclaimer from the FBI at the end, but it is prefaced with "A friendly reminder from the FBI" and during the spot, the image of the FBI agent is given spiky hair, glasses, and a beard in crayon.
- All six episodes of Clerks: The Animated Series began with your typical disclaimer (read by Kevin Michael Richardson), followed by a joke statement (like for the pilot "Is anybody still watching after all that?"); he also did a VO in the middle of episode 3 stating "Due to the recent lawsuit by Dustin Hoffman over the alleged unauthorized use of his likeness, the role of Dustin Hoffman in Randal's cartoon brain calculation will be played by- Al Pacino!"
- The disclaimer from this article — in financial articles, there is an obligation for the writer to disclose if he or she owns or handles for others any securities, stocks or companies directly mentioned, for conflict-of-interest purposes — has a nice gem at the end:
At the time of publication, Michael Brush did not own or control shares of any fund mentioned in this column. Nor does he carry a Hermès handbag.
Last not least, our Legal Dept. might like to inform you, that none of the promises, regulations or compilations of tropes of any kind, that were mentioned above, are valid, or should be taken seriously. We would like to apologize in advance for any errors and serious complications, regarding property, health, or sanity. TV Tropes is the owner of this article and its content for the purpose of copyright.
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