Top 5 Insurance Industry Misconceptions About Copyright

By Miles McNamee, Copyright Clearance Center | April 28, 2014

Few industries understand the concept of risk better than the insurance sector. But what about infringement risk?

Sharing published information is essential to a company’s ability to thrive. Whether developing new insurance products, keeping abreast of state and legislative regulatory developments or gathering competitive intelligence, insurance professionals depend on copyrighted material.

Miles McNamee

Miles McNamee

The 2013 Information Consumption and Use Survey conducted by research and advisory firm Outsell, Inc., revealed that nearly half (45%) of the content shared within the insurance industry comes from outside sources. Content-sharing is up across industries, but copyright awareness is not. Fifty-six percent of surveyed insurance professionals either don’t know if their organizations have a copyright policy or don’t know what’s in it.

Here are five common copyright misconceptions in the insurance industry to look out for.

1. COPYRIGHT COMPLIANCE ISN’T THAT BIG A DEAL

According to Outsell, the vast majority (75%) of surveyed insurance professionals believe that protecting their organizations’ intellectual property (IP) is critical or very important. But respect for intellectual property is a two-way street. The same respect for third-party IP rights is also critical. Copyright infringement penalties can hurt your organization’s bottom line and its reputation.

2. ARTICLES AVAILABLE ONLINE ARE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND ARE FREE FOR THE TAKING

Online availability of articles does not mean copyright holders have given up their rights to their works.

It also doesn’t mean these works are in the public domain. The term “public domain” refers to works that are no longer covered by copyright, either because the copyrights have expired or because the works were written by the federal government. Content that is publicly accessible is not necessarily in the public domain. It’s likely to be copyright-protected, which means you need appropriate permission to copy and share it.

3. THERE REALLY ISN’T THAT MUCH SHARING GOING ON AT OUR ORGANIZATION

Sharing is pervasive in the insurance workplace. Business analysts and attorneys in insurance companies are heavy consumers of published information. But it doesn’t stop there. Plenty of content sharing happens throughout your organization, from human resources and account management to public relations and marketing. According to the Outsell survey, insurance companies reported forwarding content an average of nearly seven times per week, with an average of 11 people each time.

4. ONCE OUR COMPANY HAS PAID FOR AN ARTICLE, WE’RE FREE TO SHARE IT

When you purchase an article, you’re buying one individual copy. You’re not paying for, or receiving, the right to make additional copies and distribute them.

5. THE SUBSCRIPTIONS THAT OUR COMPANY PURCHASES ALLOW US TO USE MATERIAL FREELY

All institutional subscriptions are not created equal. Although some include attendant rights, such as the right to save, store, print and copy content, others include only some of those rights. It’s not always safe to assume that every activity is covered under the scope of your subscription.

McNamee is vice president, Licensing and Business Development, at Copyright Clearance Center. He can be reached at mmcnamee@copyright.com or 978-646-2459

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Latest Comments

  • May 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm
    Christopher says:
    Interesting reading and I must say that I also had these misconceptions. So can I have your approval to share in the company I work with or do I send them the link and will th... read more
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm
    Jim Holm says:
    This article makes a lot of sense. However, in practice the wild west of the internet makes copyright enforcement dicey and improbable. The content www.enhancedinsurance.com i... read more
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