Reading the Fine Print

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Traditional publishers provide many services for authors, including fact-checking and obtaining permission for intellectual property. Self-publishing platforms don’t provide these services, and because of a recent court ruling, aren’t responsible for mistakes made by authors. The National Law Review looks at the landmark case, and how it removes liability for the publishing platforms:

The ruling might also serve as a reminder for providers to reexamine user agreements and terms of service to ensure that certain author representations about the non-infringing nature of uploaded content are clearly worded and that electronic contracting best practices are followed to ensure enforceability. Interestingly, the court’s language also touched on the free speech implications of an adverse ruling, suggesting that if liability for failure to inspect content were imposed on print-on-demand publishers or self-publishing platforms, they might become censors and their services would become more expensive, precluding the publication of low-budget works or controversial opinions from independent authors.


Ian MacAllen's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →