Thursday, April 5, 2012

Liability and Book Blogging - The Shit and the Shingles

First why not take a look at the introduction to see WHY I'm rambling on about this.

We are bloggers. We do this for free. Some of us choose to host advertising on our sites as a means of at least breaking even on a domain name. But for the most part we put far more into our sites than we get out of them, monetarily speaking. Between shipping costs, internet space, domain names, buying books, traveling and whatever else our blogs end up requiring (or strongly encouraging), buying insurance is probably not very high on that list. Why would it be? Why do our blogs need insurance?

I will tell you right now my blog is uninsured and quite frankly it'll probably stay that way. Read on for the why behind that.

As book bloggers our biggest worries are probably accusations of libel and defamation of character. Remember those negative reviews? Oh yeah. Forget about actually PROVING libel. You don't have to be found guilty of libel to have your bank account ass raped.

All those"blacklisting" Goodreads shelves (can you actually HEAR me roll my eyes here?)? Yeah, that's lumped in there.

What about giveaways? I'm not talking about failure to supply. I'm talking about COPPA, the law that makes it illegal to request personal information of anyone under the age of 13. As a book blogger running giveaways, how do you verify this? Do you request copies of birth certificates? Parents' written consent? Or are you like me and just work on good faith? The honor code. Pray to whatever god exists that you're not sending something that could be deemed pornographic to a minor. You see where I'm going with this? What will you do if you end up with an irate parent whose child just received your Ellen Hopkins books (under 13 address + "illicit material" + batshitty parent = shenanigans)? Crap.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend I can spit out every single claims scenario that could happen. That's impossible. But the shit up there? It's probably the most obvious. So what can you do to put some shingles on your roof to keep it from leaking on you?

Buy a media liability policy.

Axis (of which I am not affiliated in any way, I actually found them via The Author's Guild) is one of the bigger media guys and they have a pretty good breakdown of just what such a policy will cover. Again, with something like a blog, where we're out there opining constantly, it's not about paying out claims; it's about defense. I was able to get some numbers and your standard media policy will cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 minimum annually. Anyone else go fuck that? *raises hand* My car insurance doesn't even cost that. It's an option but unless you have all that extra fundage to spend, as people that don't actually net a profit, it's not a very viable one.

Form a sort of mutual.

It's not the true definition of a mutual but to cut down on cost, because those policies are subject to minimum premiums (meaning no matter what that amount is what you're going to pay), you could get a few of you together onto one policy and split the bill. I'm not too knowledgeable on something like this to I'm going to go ahead and refer you to your local insurance agent for more information.

Go bare.

Hello! And this does not mean run around naked. At least in public. It basically means do nothing and hope for the best. It's what I'm doing and I'm sure it's what pretty much everyone else is doing. Our risks are low and high at the same time. We effectively have nothing to lose. We have no affiliations and anyone coming after us would quite frankly be wasting their time. But welcome to a heinously litigious society where you can be sued for anything at any time. Unfortunately it's not impossible. Just highly improbable.

Another option was thrown around on the underwriting side of adding book bloggers to publisher media policies. I laughed in my co-worker's face because, really, what are the chances? But I did ask. And I got a good sampling of no's. One of my publishing contacts brought up an exceptionally good point about the FTC, book bloggers and extending coverage: adding a book blogger to an insurance policy is effectively an extension of money to the blogger. In other words the publisher would be allowing the blogger access to their money. Sponsorship, anyone? I didn't think of this until it was mentioned and man, was it eye-opening. It is something that's done when there's an actual monetary investment in the person being added (authors, for instance) but book bloggers essentially need to stay as independent as possible in order to not have to pick a huge FTC wedgie out of our asses. This is not the way to avoid said wedgies.

Again, I'm not saying any of this to scare anyone, nor am I pretending to be an expert. Knowledge is power and I'm just trying to smear it around. In the final post I wrap it all up, all this liability shit. Sometimes I don't like being a big kid. It's a total buzz kill.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog designed by TwispiredBlogdesign using MK Design's TeaTime kit.