3D Printer Patterns, Other Downloadable Material Open Firms to Content Liability Risks

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TechInsurance issues risk management recommendations for firms offering downloadable content online.

With the successful firing of the Liberator, the first gun produced by a 3D printer from a pattern available for free online, a new era of content liability risks has dawned. Now, companies that make content available online could face liability associated with real-world injuries. These new liabilities demand renewed attention to Media and Publisher’s Liability Insurance.

Three-dimensional printing has been a reality for nearly 30 years, but the technology behind it has only recently become accessible to mainstream consumers. As 3D printers grow more affordable and accessible, companies that create and publish online content need to be aware of the risks that accompany the publication of 3D patterns and to ensure that their existing insurance policies offer adequate protection.

Traditional Media and Publisher’s Liability Insurance policies offer protection against errors and omissions associated with the publication or dissemination of information. Today, many Media and Publisher’s policies offer protection specifically for a company’s blog or website content, which companies in all industries frequently need.

“In the Information Age, nearly everybody is in the publishing business,” said Ted Devine, CEO of TechInsurance. “And with the online publication of 3D printing blueprints on the rise, the liability risks for Internet publishers go from advertising damage, libel, and slander to serious physical injuries if people create real-world objects that malfunction and cause harm.” Devine noted that, because many online publications offer universal access to information, the pool of potential lawsuits a company faces for publishing content is virtually bottomless.

To shield against the risks associated with publishing content such as 3D printer blueprints online, TechInsurance today issued recommendations regarding the following products:

  •     A Media and Publisher’s Liability Insurance policy with contingent bodily injury and property damage coverage. Traditionally, these added coverages offered protection for incidents such as the publication of a user’s manual for a lawnmower that failed to instruct owners to turn off the machine before changing the blades. In the era of 3D printing, this coverage would be adequate to guard against injuries associated with the malfunction of an object printed from a downloaded design.
  •     Legal review and quality assurance of content published online, as appropriate. If having a lawyer review all online content is not feasible, companies should train writers and editors in legal standards for content publication.
  •     A technology Errors & Omissions endorsement to bolster the Media Liability coverage. Media and Publisher’s coverage tends to be more detailed than Tech E&O coverage, so it will most likely be easiest for an insurance carrier to supplement an existing Media policy with additional Tech coverage.

“Tech companies should be especially attuned to the ways new technologies introduce new liability risks,” Devine added. “More often than not, legal standards for technology liability are forged in the courtroom. Companies with access to the resources needed to defend themselves in court can help shape the future of technology liability law.”

TechInsurance connects small and micro businesses with A-rated insurance carriers. Its industry-trained agents have extensive experience identifying the liability exposures small tech firms face and connecting them with the business insurance that helps limit and provide protection for those exposures. Details about TechInsurance’s offerings are available at http://www.techinsurance.com.

About TechInsurance

TechInsurance is an onlineinsurance agent that offers IT businesses and sole proprietors fast, easy, one-stop shopping for all their liability mitigation needs. TechInsurance was founded in 1997 in response to the difficulty IT services firms had finding high-quality, affordable business insurance. With more than 51,000 businesses insured since 1997, the company has grown to become America's leading online provider of business and professional insurance for computer consulting, web services companies, and other IT service businesses. For information, visit http://www.techinsurance.com.

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