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The Details: Contract language

Fire Tip Sheets

FIRE Tip Sheets convey expert guidance to help media outlets and freelance reporters arrange viable contracts for public-interest investigations. The Tip Sheets below show the contract language by which an outlet might protect a freelancer from liability. 

The Details: Contract language

Tip Sheets on the liability fine print

 Access the Tip Sheets by topic, below.


Red Light Greenlight: Reading a contract's liability terms

Overview: What to sign, what not to sign: Watching the indemnification signals


Basic Phrasing: Standard protective language 

The magic words: What indemnification looks like in writing


The Next Level: Optimum ("augmented") protection 

Bonus clause: To avoid having to contribute to a claim defense, request this language


If you have a personal policy: "Augmented" indemnification for the insured

Scenario 1: Indemnified for a lawsuit, but with your own insurance as back-up


If you don’t have a policy: Augmented indemnification for the un-insured 

Scenario 2: Indemnified for a lawsuit, without your own media insurance


Mutual Indemnification: Equal promises: What could go wrong? 

Beware of simply agreeing to protect one another—the devil’s in the legalese 


Term limits: How long does an outlet’s protection last? 

The story ran two years ago: What if someone sues now? 


About the FIRE Tip Sheets

FIRE Tip Sheets highlight some of the key questions raised at a 2021 FIRE panel on freelancer liability. Future guides will address intellectual property, pay rates, and other key issues for freelancers. An annotated list of the complete FIRE Tip Sheets appears here

FIRE Tip Sheets are made available for educational and informational purposes only: They are not legal advice. FIRE makes no representation or warranty for any particular fitness of purpose and is not responsible for the effect of any reliance upon FIRE Tip Sheets or other information provided by FIRE. 

Primary sources:

FIRE Tip Sheets are meant to open a dialogue in the public interest. To help us improve them, please email info@firenewsroom.org, subject line "Tip Sheet feedback." To query or clarify any element of Tip Sheet for use in freelance investigative reporting, please follow instructions at Legal Consultancy.

FIRE Tip Sheets are made possible by support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

© Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors, 2022