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Can videographer insurance cover music copyright lawsuits?

Q: Can videographer insurance cover music copyright lawsuits?

A: Yes and no. General Liability Insurance for videographers includes lawsuit coverage for some copyright infringements, but most copyright lawsuits won't be covered. To understand what is and isn't covered by General Liability Insurance, let's look at how this coverage works.

Will General Liability Insurance Cover a Videographer's Copyright Lawsuit?

General Liability includes coverage for third-party "advertising injury" claims, and it can pay for lawsuits that result when a videographer advertises their work concerning…

  • Libel.
  • Slander.
  • Copyright infringement.

In this case, "advertises" doesn't just mean when you put an ad on TV. It can refer to online posts and other publications of your videos.

Let's say you make a video for a client. In the video, you use the logo of the client's competitor. The competitor could sue your business if they think you've misrepresented their company or misused their trademark. General Liability Insurance for videographers covers this kind of infringement lawsuit — i.e., when a third-party claims you've damaged their reputation or injured them by using their trademark or copyright.

But General Liability Insurance typically won't pay for other, more common cases of copyright infringement, like using copyrighted music and video clips without permission.

What Isn't Covered by General Liability's Copyright Infringement?

Videographers won't be covered for knowingly using copyrighted material. In other words, if you use a copyrighted song in a video (e.g., laying Michael Jackson's Thriller over a video of wedding dance clips), General Liability Insurance won't cover this infringement. When you knowingly use media that is copyrighted, your insurance will not cover the lawsuit.

Copyright law is one of the most complicated areas of law. While you can sometimes get away with using copyrighted material in parodies and for "fair use," these exceptions are hard to define and lawyers often have to battle these issues in court.

From a risk management standpoint, the best strategy is to…

  • Be extra cautious.
  • Avoid using copyrighted material.

While General Liability Insurance covers advertising injuries, it won't cover many copyright lawsuits. It'll be up to you to make sure you follow the letter of the law.

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