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.
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.
“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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
3. Terms and conditions
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?
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.
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)
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.
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