Your Insurance and the Internet

When it comes to personal insurance, Owens Group is proud to represent carriers that provide extremely broad financial protection for many risks to assets from both a property and liability viewpoint. The internet offers a significant test of that coverage. As in the past, our recommendation continues to emphasize personal responsibility and risk avoidance. For example, there is some coverage for libel, slander and similar personal injury claims included in homeowner’s coverage. Should you write whatever you want on Facebook and expect to be covered? Don’t bet on it, because there are also exclusions that carriers could invoke to avoid defending such claims. Using the prudent person approach, with questions such as “How would this look on the front page of the New York Times?” is a safer way to avoid problems.

Similarly, the Independent Agents Association recently noted that all of us electronically accept endless pages of legalese as part of our use of smartphones and related apps. Penalties for copyright infringement can range from a cease and desist order to significant fines and lawsuits. In some situations, even criminal prosecution is possible. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), here are the legal realities under copyright laws and the “No Electronic Theft Law”:

  • Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
  • Civil penalties can run into many thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees. The minimum penalty is $750 per song.
  • Criminal penalties can run up to five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines, even if you didn’t do it for monetary or financial or commercial gain.
  • If you did expect something in return, even if it just involves swapping your files for someone else’s, as in MP3 trading, you can be sentenced to as much as five years in prison.
  • Regardless of whether you expected to profit, you’re still liable in civil court for damages and lost profits of the copyright holder, or the copyright holders can sue you for as much as $150,000 in statutory damages for each of their copyrighted works that you illegally copy or distribute.