Publishers Insurance: Defamation. Intellectual Property. Breach of Licence. All covered.

Defamation, plagiarism and breach of intellectual property . . . three legal matters you will pay close attention to as publishers. Unfortunately these legal matters can easily cause publishers problems if not closely managed. If you do make a mistake, a professional indemnity insurance policy will protect you against claims from third parties.

So what is professional indemnity insurance and is it really worth it?

In a nutshell professional indemnity insurance protects you against the cost of compensation to clients or third parties if your professional work has caused them to lose money. More commonly in the case of publishers, claims arise as a result of damage to the reputation of a third party. Importantly for publishers, professional indemnity insurance not only provides the compensation required to rectify any mistakes in your work, but it also provides cover for defence costs in situations where the claim made by a third party is unjustified.

Is it worth it? It depends . . . the likelihood of you receiving a claims depends on a number of factors:

  • The content and nature of your publications; a tabloid newspaper is more likely to have claims than a parish council magazine.
  • The circulation of your publication; the size of your audience may increase your chances of a claim.
  • The territories your publications reach; different countries have different laws regarding breach of privacy, defamation and breach of intellectual property.

Even if you publish a local newspaper with a small circulation, it’s certainly worth protecting yourself against the legal liabilities you may face. While it’s not unknown for publishers to trade without professional indemnity, by doing so you must be prepare for some potentially costly legal fees if things do go wrong. Professional indemnity can provide peace of mind for a relatively small premium.

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    So what claims are often made under professional indemnity policies for publishers?

    – Defamation – even if the content of your publications is very low risk, that doesn’t guarantee that someone, somewhere won’t take offence. Content has been known to “go viral” on the internet, which will only serve to increase circulation and subsequent damages if the claimant is successful.

    – Plagiarism or infringement of a third party’s intellectual property rights – if allegations are made that your publications are a copy or similar to that of another’s.

    – Breach of confidentially – if you accidentally publish personal or business sensitive details you do not have permission to distribute.

    – Negligence – the basic cover under a professional indemnity insurance policy; it covers your mistakes. Anything from a spelling, to placing a weekly advertisement with an incorrect contact number.

    Is there a difference between online publishers and traditional publishers? In short, no. Insurance companies that offer professional indemnity tailored for publishers understand the rise of the internet and the need to protect against claims for both paper publications and online content. Insurance companies will usually measure the circulation risk by using the number of visitors to your website. We can organise you a policy that will be clear it covers both online publications and traditional publications.

    Useful links

    The Publishers Association The leading representative voice for books, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK.

    The Professional Publishers Association Represents around 220 companies, ranging from consumer magazine publishers to business-to-business data and information providers, customer magazine publishers and smaller independent companies.