Spreading a Virus: Tag, You’re It

Harking back to our earlier post on goofy fax and e-mail “disclaimers,” we ran across a new species at the bottom of an e-mail from a good friend, put there by his company. After starting with the normal verbiage for situations where a message has gone to the wrong person, it turns to the subject of viruses.

Viruses: This e-mail and any attachments have been scanned for viruses but we cannot guarantee that they are virus free. The recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for viruses. (OK, it might be a little late to be warning about this if the e-mail is already in our box and we’ve opened it to read this statement. And if the sender thinks the recipient’s scanning will catch a problem that the sender’s scanning didn’t catch, shall we conclude that the sender’s scan was negligently deficient?)

[We] accept no responsibility for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail or any of its attachments. (Guess we know where they stand on that last question.)

In the event of any unauthorized copying or forwarding (The sender is saying the recipient has to have the sender’s permission to forward a message to someone else? Interesting; perhaps an attempt to apply copyright concepts? Regardless, that could get complicated in a business e-mail environment.), the recipient will be required to indemnify [us] against any claim for loss or damage caused by any viruses or otherwise. (We must appreciate the boldness of this declaration, given the many varied tort and contract concepts that could come into play here. Note the words “any claim.” The simplicity is beautiful: “I gave you a virus but once you’ve got it, it’s your problem and you have to protect me from all consequences.” Counterintuitive perhaps, but it does track nicely with the childhood notion of being left holding the hot potato.)