What Every Publisher Should Know About Publisher’s Liability Insurance

January 1998
by Lloyd J. Jassin and Steven C. Schechter

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Publishing is a risky business. Ask Lyle Stuart, publisher of Barricade Books, whose company faces extinction because of a $3.1 million defamation award in a suit brought by Las Vegas casino king, Steve Wynn, over catalog copy for a book linking Wynn to the mob. While Barricade Books could probably overturn the damage award on appeal (because Barricade carried no libel insurance), the likelihood of an appeal appears slim.

Though Lyle Stuart made a business decision not to insure against publishing perils, fortunately there are special policies that will pay the cost of defending your right to speak freely.

Media perils policies are available to publishers and authors to protect against intellectual property and libel claims. These policies generally cover claims of copyright and trademark infringement, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Some policies even cover claims of misappropriation of ideas, as well as a number of other media perils. Most of these policies also cover the costs of defending a lawsuit, including attorney’s fees and court costs.

What Should I Look for in a Media Perils Policy?

Insurance policies vary widely. It is important to emphasize that comprehensive general liability insurance policies, that most business firms carry, do not cover the type of claims discussed in this article. When obtaining a media perils insurance policy, there are several questions that you always need to ask.

1. Does the Policy Cover Attorneys’ Fees?

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