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Old 10-03-2018, 08:24 PM   #1
SigilBear
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Media Liability Insurance

Does anyone here have any experience with media liability insurance?

I'm still plugging away on my first ePub, which is taking far longer to finish than I expected. It features lots of images, many of which I've obtained from public domain websites like Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, etc.

The problem is that people sometimes publish copyrighted images to these sites. My understanding is that the law may not forgive honest mistakes. If I use a copyrighted image that was advertised as public domain, I'm still on the hook.

I also write lots of political commentary, and I'm not afraid to name names.

So I was excited when a law student told me about media liability insurance. I suspect it's going to cost more than I can afford, but I'd like to learn more about it.

Are there any particular sources of such insurance that you would recommend?

Thanks.
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Old 10-03-2018, 11:41 PM   #2
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The internet is your friend. Here:

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/medi...lity-insurance


Quote:

Media Liability Insurance

If your online activities are not covered under your current insurance policies, a growing number of companies are offering media liability insurance. While these policies are expensive -- perhaps prohibitively so for a newly formed business -- they can also be quite comprehensive. They typically cover costs to defend against suits brought for:
  • libel, slander, and defamation.
  • invasion of privacy (a growing concern, as suits arising from newsgathering activities are not hampered by the First Amendment concerns that make libel and slander suits difficult to win).
  • copyright infringement and other intellectual property-related suits.
  • damages resulting from errors, omissions, misstatements or misleading statements made by you.

Media liability policies typically have a minimum coverage of $500,000 - $1 million and can run all the way up to $100 million for large publishers. The premiums may be as low as $500 a year, but typically begin at $2,500. Media liability insurance is a growing business with more companies underwriting policies every year, so it makes sense to shop around.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SigilBear View Post
[...] I also write lots of political commentary, and I'm not afraid to name names. [...]
Since you're looking for insurance it seems there might a little bit of fear. Yes?

I've no experience in this area. So far I've opted to err on the side of caution with my work, fiction and non-fiction.

One does wonder why media liability insurance is a growing business. Is it because more people are content to be careless with their use of media, or just that insurance companies are good at spotting a good earner when they see one?
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Old 10-04-2018, 09:01 AM   #4
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It would seem to me, that the cost of the insurance would more than pay for photographers and graphics artists to create original works for you. I would think that with a service like Fiverr you could buy a LOT of works that you own outright.
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by GlenBarrington View Post
It would seem to me, that the cost of the insurance would more than pay for photographers and graphics artists to create original works for you. I would think that with a service like Fiverr you could buy a LOT of works that you own outright.
That's a good tip. I'll check out Fiverr.

I have come across a few photographers who have let me use their photos at unbelievably cheap rates. "Stock photos" are another story; they can easily cost $500 apiece.

I write a lot of political stuff, so I also have to worry about people crying libel, defamation, tortious interference and that kind of thing. On the other hand, I've been speaking out loudly and boldly for two decades and have never been sued. Then again, there's always a first time.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
Since you're looking for insurance it seems there might a little bit of fear. Yes?
Absolutely. I've been a political activist since the mid-1990's, and most people would describe me as fearless. However, I'm not stupid; I'm pretty good at recognizing the boundaries, but I also know how to strategically push the envelope.

I've received cease and desist letters twice, and I backed down each time, though I'm 99% certain they didn't have a leg to stand on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
One does wonder why media liability insurance is a growing business. Is it because more people are content to be careless with their use of media, or just that insurance companies are good at spotting a good earner when they see one?
Good question. I know nothing about it, but I suspect one reason is the simple fact that we're exploring new territory. The Internet is so big and complex, with so many rules and games, it's hard to know what's safe.

For example, I was surprised to learn that any image that's published on Facebook can be used in a book or website by simply crediting "Facebook." At least, that's the advice I received on a legal forum; I suspect there's more to it than that, and I don't want to just start posting pictures of corrupt politicians that pop up on Facebook.

On a similar note, I'm now afraid to post links to my websites on Facebook, because Facebook may automatically display an image associated with that page, leaving me to wonder if I've lost some of the rights to that image. It's very confusing.
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Old 10-05-2018, 12:25 AM   #7
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I remember when I was researching professional indemnity insurance (many years ago) there were various rumours that getting such insurance merely made you a target. ... And speaking of which, if you have professional indemnity you may want to check whether you're already covered for your main concerns, and that any media liability insurance you do get does not overlap.

You mention the Internet being so big and complex, this is one of the things that will make choosing insurance more interesting. Measuring your true risks is not straightforward, and you may be better advised paying for reputable legal advice first. Once you better understand your risks you will be in a position to choose the right insurance.
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Old 10-07-2018, 01:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SigilBear View Post
That's a good tip. I'll check out Fiverr.

I have come across a few photographers who have let me use their photos at unbelievably cheap rates. "Stock photos" are another story; they can easily cost $500 apiece.
Well, if you buy them from Getty or iStockPhotos (same thing), sure, but there are many other sites, like DepositPhotos, Fotolia, etc., where they are closer to $1, not $500.00. It takes research, but there's a lot of stock imagery out there that is affordable.

You also have the right to rely upon the reasonable representations of others. If you use an image that's posted on Pixabay, for example, you're relying on the representation of the person who posted it that they own the copyright. You don't have a viable reason to believe otherwise, unless you have foreknowledge. (For example, you see an image on another political website, credited to Getty, and then you see it on Pixabay, credited to John Smith. Then you have a reason to believe that the representation might be fallacious.)

Most photographers will be satisfied if you obey a C&D, but of course, they don't have to be. This is the reason that clearances are an actual department in any publishing house, to obtain copyright clearances. If you're not buying and licensing images, but instead relying on "the Net," yes, you're courting lawsuits, pun intended. However, as I said, you legally have a right to rely on the representation of someone who posts an image to Pixabay or other free image sites like UnSplash.

The downside to that is, of course, that reliance is a defense--not a shield against being sued in the first place, which costs money. The only possible defense shield, for copyright infringement, that is, is the proper licensing of each image you use, even if it's simply DepositPhotos and you only paid a dollar.

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Old 10-09-2018, 09:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Well, if you buy them from Getty or iStockPhotos (same thing), sure, but there are many other sites, like DepositPhotos, Fotolia, etc., where they are closer to $1, not $500.00. It takes research, but there's a lot of stock imagery out there that is affordable.
Yes, I need to check out more options. I have enough artistic skill to enable me to modify and build on a lot of stock images as well.

Good point about relying on the representation of others, too. Some have advised me that that's meaningless. If I inadvertently used a copyrighted image, I'm sunk, but I don't agree. It's possible that the representation of others defense won't save my neck, but it's also possible that it will. I think most reasonable judges would at least give me a lower fine if I was still found guilty.
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SigilBear View Post
Yes, I need to check out more options. I have enough artistic skill to enable me to modify and build on a lot of stock images as well.

Good point about relying on the representation of others, too. Some have advised me that that's meaningless. If I inadvertently used a copyrighted image, I'm sunk, but I don't agree. It's possible that the representation of others defense won't save my neck, but it's also possible that it will. I think most reasonable judges would at least give me a lower fine if I was still found guilty.
Speak to an actual practicing IP attorney, not web denizens. I think you'll find that reliance has a lot of depth in IP law.

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Old 10-10-2018, 09:21 AM   #11
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Speak to an actual practicing IP attorney, not web denizens. [...]
+2 (me and all my friends).
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