Does my insurance protect me against copyright infringement claims?

Photo by Jametlene Reskp; CC0

If you or one of your employees or contractors uses an image without authorization, you could face costly litigation for copyright infringement. Copyright owners are, in some cases, entitled to statutory damages as high as tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The good news is that, because copyright infringement is a serious and expensive offense, many business insurance providers include coverage for such situations. If you have insurance, you should submit a claim even if you are in doubt about whether you have coverage. Failure to submit a timely claim in writing to your insurance company could prevent you from making a claim later if it turns out you are in fact covered.

Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance

Insurance coverage for copyright infringement claims is most commonly found in commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies. CGL policies are the same as those commercial landlords require tenants to purchase to protect against personal injury and property damage claims. These policies can also cover “advertising injury” claims, which can include claims for copyright infringement if an infringing image is used in the insured company’s advertisements online. CGL policies can offer valuable protection in these circumstances. You paid for that protection as part of your insurance premium, so why not use it when you need it?

Professional indemnity or liability insurance

Another type of insurance that often provides protection for copyright claims is professional indemnity or liability insurance, sometimes called “errors and omissions” (E&O) coverage. Attorneys, architects, engineers, real estate agents, technology consultants, and other professionals often have valuable coverage. Again, even if you are in doubt that your policy covers copyright infringement, you should still make a claim to avoid losing your valuable rights.

Submitting a claim

To find out if your existing insurance policy covers you or your business for copyright infringement, ask your insurance agent or broker, and consult the actual terms of your policy. Remember, an insurance claim must be submitted in writing in a timely fashion and according to the claims procedure in your policy. Follow the terms of the policy or contact your insurance representative directly.

If you are a regular image user and discover your current policy does not provide coverage, consider shopping around for one that provides what you need. There are plenty of policies available, and they are not as expensive as you might think. Remember, litigation is not cheap, and since these policies will protect you in such a situation, the cost of obtaining one will more than likely be cheaper than the costs of defending a claim in court.

Summary

  • Copyright infringement claims are expensive; damages can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Business insurance providers often include coverage for such situations.
  • Check whether your policy covers copyright infringement; if not, shop around.
  • If faced with a claim, contact your insurer immediately. Paying an excess will be cheaper than going to court.

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