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What If I Download Music From The Internet?
This “What-If” Wednesday, our question might puzzle you. After all, your music library doesn’t really have anything to do with your insurance, does it?
You’re right, it doesn’t. Not really. Unfortunately.
So, how did we come up with this question?
The other day we read an IIABA insurance industry publication on the topic of illegal music downloads. Since we enjoy sending a complementary iTunes card to the newly licensed drivers in our client database, it caught our attention. According to the article, a consumer was fined $22,500 for illegally downloading 30 songs. And she is not the only one. In another trial, a woman was fined almost $ 2 million for illegally downloading a couple dozen songs!
How can that be? The standard cost per song is only about $0.99 on legal sites!
Federal law states that recording companies are entitled to penalties ranging from $750 to $30,000 per song, for illegally downloaded songs, and even up to $150,000 per song if the copyright infringement is deemed willful! 6-figure penalties can add up easily.
Your homeowner’s policy will not protect you if you find yourself in such a lawsuit.
A homeowner’s insurance policy provides liability protection if a policy holder is held responsible for an accident. Example: If you accidentally cause bodily injury or property damage to another person or their tangible property, your homeowner’s policy will usually cover liability charges.
Copyright infringement does not qualify as ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’. And, illegally downloading music hardly qualifies as an ‘accident’. Therefore, liability protection through your homeowner’s policy does not apply if you find yourself sued in such a lawsuit.
Some homeowner’s policies include a ‘personal injury’ endorsement, which covers you if you are sued for libel, slander, or violation of privacy rights. Copyright infringement is not defined as any of these. Quite the contrary, copyright infringement is seen as a criminal act – and criminal acts are excluded on a homeowner’s policy.
Bottom line: We hope that the new drivers among our clients enjoy their iTunes card.
But, as you or your children download music files from the Internet – or worse, share files – be vigilant. Avoid risking a lawsuit and, possibly, major debt. Talk with your kids and teenagers about the dangers of illegally downloading and sharing music, and identify legal sites and acceptable ways to download the tunes you like.