Social media marketing and posting content online have proved to be effective and cheap advertising tools, particularly for small and mid-sized businesses. But there are risks in all that posting that could prove quite costly in terms of money and integrity.
Reposting, copying and pasting, and embedding of video, audio, and digital creations found on the web can result in copyright, trademark and intellectual property infringement claims. Most people think copyright laws and regulations are associated only with the world of publishing and broadcasting. However, any type of business can be exposed to liabilities that most people usually associate with the print media, music, and advertising industries.
“Oftentimes, companies assume that whatever they find on the Internet is free for use, and that’s simply not the case,” said Adam Bialek of the Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP intellectual property group of New York.
Media-related injury claims
Defamation, invasion of privacy, unfair trade practices and emotional distress are claims that most people associate with the press, too. However, in that regard, web marketing is no different than print advertising. Any kind of company using licensed content can be exposed to media-related claims.
A company licensed to use materials for one purpose might be exceeding the scope of that license if used for another purpose.
Protecting yourself and your business
Most large companies are conscious of media laws, but small and mid-sized organizations need to become more aware of marketing practices that expose them to media liability claims.
Smaller organizations often neglect training their employees in risk management because they lack sufficient income or resources. This can be compounded when the tasks associated with social media are delegated to lower level employees or interns. Many companies don’t even have a formal social media policy.
It’s widely assumed that media-related injury and copyright infringement claims would be covered under a general liability policy. However, the Insurance Services Office, Inc. general liability policy forms have limitations on media and publishing liability coverage, and more exclusions for personal injury and advertising continue to be added.
Any company using social media marketing tools is encouraged to increase coverage by adding separate, stand-alone media liability policies. Cyber risk insurance is the policy of choice for non-media firms with online content exposures. Be sure to check out our cyber risk page to get a quick quote indication by answering just eight questions.
- Matt Dunning, “Social Media Marketing Efforts,” Business Insurance, 19 Jan., 2014.
- Matt Dunning, “Non-media Companies Face Arcane Risks,” Business Insurance, 20 Jan 2014