How to Prevent Your Online Course From Being Stolen

How to Prevent Your Online Course From Being Stolen

 Online courses are huge right now, but creators have to deal with their online course being stolen. It is one of the most common questions from my clients. If you’re putting the course out there, there is no sure-fire way that it won’t get taken. But in this post, I am going to share with you the inside scoop to prevent it from happening and even if it does, there are consequences.

  1. Prevent someone from stealing your online course by adding Terms of Use on your business website

    So you have this website, and whether you know it or not, your website is your property. You can tell people how to behave on your property. By writing terms of use on your website, you are creating a contract between yourself and your site visitors. The site visitors have to abide by your terms if they continue occupying your website.

    To prevent someone from trying to steal your content, which may include your course, make sure you include information on how content on your site should be used. A good example is from Buzzfeed’s Terms of Service:

    “The Services may contain Content specifically provided by us, our partners or our users and such Content is protected by copyrights, trademarks, service marks, patents, trade secrets or other proprietary rights and laws. You shall abide by all copyright notices, information, and restrictions contained in any Content accessed through the Services. The trademarks, logos, trade names and service marks, whether registered or unregistered (collectively the “Trademarks”) displayed on the Site are Trademarks of BuzzFeed and its third-party partners.”

    This is only part of the intellectual property section of Buzzfeed’s term of use, but you get the idea. Buzzfeed’s terms also include a use license, which gives users permission to use their content in a specific manner.

  2. Terms of Use on your course sales page

    Since you have the Terms of Use on your website, go over to your sales page and do the same thing. Ashlyn Carter has an excellent license for her templates.

    “By purchasing your template or any product from The AW Shop™, you are granted one revocable, worldwide, non-exclusive license to the product(s) You have purchased. If you violate this license by giving or selling a copy of Our template(s)/product(s) to anyone other, or if you imply that anyone who gets access to our template/product(s) has the right to use it for his/her/its commercial purposes, We reserve the right to invoice you for the licenses you have gifted to others and revoke your access to our template(s)/product(s) permanently.”

    This addresses how many people can use her product, and what happens to you if you violate her license agreement.

  3.  Watermark your content for videos and/or use the copyright symbol to prevent someone from stealing your online course

    If you are conducting webinars, make sure you pop your head in the videos. This shows that you are the person who is instructing the course. Additionally, by adding a watermark to your webinar videos, your followers can recognize your videos and alert you if someone else is selling them.

    Last but not least, use the copyright symbol on all of your courses, e-books, freebies, and anything you give or sell to your clients/customers. This puts everyone on notice that you are the creator of the material. The copyright notice format is:

    © 2019 John Doe All Rights Reserved

    Will this stop everyone from trying to steal your course? No, because some people just don’t have a moral compass and think they can get away with any and everything. But every Regina George is hit by the bus at some point, and they will eventually see their day in court. After you read this, go to your website and content that you have created, and implement these strategies.

  4. Trademark the name of your course

    Trademarking the name of your course will not protect the online course content from being stolen. BUT when someone comes to you saying that your course name has been stolen, you can send a cease and desist letter. Then, the course creator will have to stop selling that course. Trademarking is insurance for your company name because consumers associate it with your brand.

    Want some examples of business owners who have trademarked their course?

    • Marie Forleo- “Copy Cure”
    • Marie Forleo- “B- School”
    • Amy Porterfield- “List Builder’s Lab”
    • Ashlyn Carter- “Copywriter’s For Creatives”

Want to make sure that you have the legal “stuff” in place for your online course? Fill out the form below and I’ll see how I can help.

3 Contracts Necessary For Creative Businesses

3 Contracts Necessary For Creative Businesses

I troll Facebook groups HARD. I usually find that contracts for creative businesses are a huge topic. Usually these creative business owners can’t get their clients to pay or they don’t know how to handle a client or independent contractor they no longer want to work with. The first thought that crosses my lawyerly mind is: “Do you have a contract in place?”. The second thought is: “Does your contract address these issues?”. Most creative entrepreneurs only care about the creative part of the business, and throw the legal “junk” on the bottom of the to-do list. All businesses need signed contracts. Although, verbal agreements can be legally binding, they are extremely hard to enforce in court. Today, we’ll be discussing contracts for creative businesses that you need in writing to make sure that your business is protected.


1. Client contract

If you are always booked and busy with clients, your client agreement needs to be airtight. Client agreements protect you and your business from clients who don’t want to pay, unruly clients, your intellectual property, and so much more. Although there are many generic contracts out there, everyone’s business isn’t the same so make sure that you are making the appropriate changes to protect yourself. And when you make changes in any client services, make sure that you update your agreement to reflect the changes.

2. Privacy Policy

Ah, the privacy policy. Do you need it? Do you not? First of all, you need it. Don’t know what it is? Well, you’re in luck because I am going to tell you. The privacy policy addresses all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses, and manages your site visitors personal information like their emails, addresses, or names. Privacy policies are especially important to creative businesses because they usually include A LOT of emailing. Don’t forget California Business and Professions Code, Internet Privacy Requirements (CalOPPA) requires that websites collecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from California residents must conspicuously post their privacy policy. So putting it in the footer is not enough.

3. Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions aren’t required, but if you want people using your digital courses and e-books any old way or want people using your content how they please, then don’t put terms and conditions on your website. But if either of those scenarios starts giving you anxiety, then put one on your site. Terms and conditions let people know how they should behave on your website. It is laying out the policies and rules they need to abide by when cruising through your site. Terms and conditions may not seem like a contract, but it is because if they don’t abide by your rules, you can kick them off or even sue them. How? I’m not sure how you can ban them from your website, but I’m sure there is some software or a WordPress plugin that lets you get the job done. Just like a privacy policy, be sure that you are addressing the issues that relate to your website and your industry. A policy like Google’s won’t help your copywriting or skincare business.

Bonus contract: Independent contractor agreement

Eventually your business is going to grow and you are going to need to outsource tasks. Once your business gets to this level, you’ll need an independent contractor agreement. Some terms that should be in your agreement?

  • Payment terms
  • The parties to the contract
  • A term stating that the worker is an independent contractor
  • An intellectual property ownership/work for hire clause

These are just some of the terms. By the way, each state has different laws about the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. Having someone sign an independent contractor agreement doesn’t necessarily mean they are an independent contractor. But hey, that’s a different post for a different day.

If you need a contract for your creative business, check out WM Law Shop for various types of contracts.

If you want a custom contract for your business, fill out the form below to work with Wilson Murphy Law.

Protect Your Blog When Blogging For Business

Protect Your Blog When Blogging For Business

Are you blogging for business? Content marketing is a great strategy to get more customers or clients into your business.

Blogging can take hours and it’s tough when you see someone who has copied your content word for word. Well, you’re in luck because today I’m going to tell you how to prevent this from happening and you can continue blogging for your business with peace of mind.

1. Registering your copyright will protect your blog content from copycats.

Firstly, a copyright is a form of intellectual property law, that protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.
As soon as you write and publish your blog post, you have created copyright content. Next step is to register your blog post with the Copyright Office. By registering your blog post for a copyright, you are setting yourself for the ultimate content protection.

Advantages of copyrighting your blog post?

  • Licensing out your blog post (and GET PAID)
  • Derivative works (include the posts in newsletters, e-courses, and on social media)

File suit if someone uses your blog content without your permissionThis last one is important because if you don’t register a copyright for your blog and someone steals it, you can’t even file suit until your mark is registered. Furthermore, registration can take 6 months or longer.Even if you decide not to register for copyright protection, at least put a copyright notice on your page.

Example: © 2019 Wilson Murphy Law, P.A. All rights reserved.

2. Disable text selection on your blog

By disabling the ability to copy and paste, you are making it 100x harder for someone to copy your post. If someone is willing to rewrite your whole post..well that’s a weird and miserable existence for that thief. You can disable the copy and paste by inserting CSS code, which is hard and annoying. Or you can use a plug-in on WordPress. The WordPress plug-in I found is called “WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click.” Best of all, it’s free! I’m all about free.99.

3. Use a work for hire agreement or put a work made for hire clause in your contract to protect your blog content.

Not all of us love writing our own blogs for our business. *Spoiler Alert* It pains me to write my posts, and takes all of my energy to sit down and put my thoughts on paper.

If you are like me, you have likely hired an independent contractor, copywriter, or virtual assistant to take over that task. When you outsource your blog posts, the person writing it for you is the author of the blog post, unless it is an employee.

However, you can protect yourself and content by having a work-for-hire agreement or clause in the service agreement. The work-for-hire agreement or term ensures that the contractor does not keep rights over the work created. 

Below is an example of a work-for-hire clause you can include in your agreement:
“ Any work performed by [Independent Contractor] while working with [Company Name] shall be considered a “Work Made for Hire” as defined in the U.S. Copyright laws, and shall be owned by and for the express benefit of [Company Name]. In the event it should be established that such work does not qualify as a Work Made for Hire, [Independent Contractor] agrees to and assigns to [Company Name] all of [Independent Contractor]’s  right, title, and interest in such work product including, but not limited to, all copyrights and other proprietary rights.”

4. Include an intellectual property clause in your terms and conditions

When blogging for business, you need to have the legal aspects of your business setup. This includes having terms and conditions on your website. Terms and conditions are guidelines on how your site visitors can behave while visiting your site.

Your intellectual property clause should discuss:

  • How they can share your blog or content
  • If there is any type of license
  • The consequences of copying your blog content.


Now that you know how to protect your blog posts while blogging for your business, find out how you can protect your Instagram posts.

Want more legal tips on blogging? Make sure you join the list! You’ll also receive a trademark roadmap which takes you through the legal process of registering your trademark.