Exposure to liability and risk of legal action is an important consideration for professional writers. While this exposure varies based on each project’s subject matter, all writers should be aware of the sources of risk and plan accordingly to avoid legal and other costs.

There are four main legal causes of action that writers may be exposed to: copyright infringement, defamation, public disclosure of private facts, and misappropriation of name or likeness.

Most publishing contracts make the author indemnify (i.e., reimburse) the publisher for any damages and costs, including legal fees, resulting from claims brought on any of these grounds, regardless of whether the claim is ultimately successful. This means that even if the author has not violated any third-party rights, and the case is settled or the author and publisher win, the author may still be on the hook for legal costs to defend the case.

The publisher’s liability insurance generally will cover most of the claim, but the publisher might make the author reimburse them for the deductible (or half the deductible, depending on the publisher). These costs can be significant, sometimes reaching the low six figures.

Protect Yourself with Media Liability Insurance

Getting your own media liability insurance can offer further protection against liabilities arising out of your work. Our new partnership with Dinghy/NSM Insurance Group allows Authors Guild members to purchase affordable media liability insurance tailored specifically to the needs of freelance writers.

Dinghy/NSM offers insurance for 30 different writing-related occupations—from journalists and editors to book authors, bloggers, ghostwriters, and more—across 46 states (excluding writers in Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, and Wyoming).

Pricing starts at less than $1/day ($24/month for $100,000 in coverage; $39/month for $1,000,000 in coverage). You can choose to pay annually or by monthly installments, with no interest charges.

Claims can be filed online 24/7 and policyholders are supported by a team of claims experts, including in-house lawyers and expert counsel.

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