Sunday, September 17, 2017

Delaware Business Insurance Update From CNC Insurance Associates " Social Media Increases Infringement Risk For Business Owners". 9-17-17

A recent copyright infringement case in the music industry has given insurance and risk professionals a cause for alarm.  The family of the late Marvin Gaye, won a verdict of 5.4 million and 50% future royalties from Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, for the song "Blurred Lines".  What is troubling about this verdict is that the award was for infringement of the "groove", and or "feel".  This is really unprecedented and could open up a slew of litigation around all types of media. Business owners using social media to promote and advertise their businesses could be held to a much higher standard when posting online. Determining that a business used the same "feel" in their advertising as another creator of content could really be a problem. Think of all the posting that is done on social media outlets that are "copy cats" of other posts. How about photographs and videos that are shared from one social media user to another? Is everyone using social media considered violating the copyright laws?  Common sense would think not, but this "Blurred Lines" case could open up a Pandora's box of issues.  The good news for business owners is your general liability policy may cover copyright infringement under Section B Personal Injury and Advertising. It is going to be interesting to see how courts rule in the use of online media. With millions and milllions of businesses participating in marketing themselves on outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn,  lawsuits for copyright infringement may eventually re-write the rules of social media use and sharing. Until next time be careful out there and know your risks.

G. Kevin Nemith CNC Insurance Associates & The Business Insurance Center