My niche is empowering small business owners to protect themselves and their business in every aspect. Did I mention, that can also save you time and the hassle to go great lengths to get credit for the work you created?! Regardless if you are offering free or paid content, it is worthy of being protected!
THE COMMONLY ASKED QUESTION
“Am I a business?” Yes, as simple as it is I get this question all the time!
This is not only coming from people with new ideas but also people already taking action, making money, with a team. Rather than give you an answer, I am going to offer the ability for you to reframe. Instead, ask yourself these series of questions, “Am I creating value?”, “Am I giving myself permission to be financially compensated for the value I create?” If the answer is YES, honor that.
Give yourself a mission to protect the vision you have created. Lean in. Form your business. Protect your value.
As a business owner, you have the right (& responsibility) to put contracts in place to protect your time, investments, brand, business relationships, and the experience of every customer.
Whether you’ve just started or you have been at it for years, serve with the confidence that comes with knowing your community is built on a strong legal foundation.
Whether you are sharing free or paid content, each deserves to be protected in a way that aligns with your vision. So I am going to provide you with a few ideas and examples on how to do so…
Yes, I hear you, trademarks and copyrights may just seem like a symbol, but those small symbols protect everything you have created for your business.
A trademark represents your brand or product. That would include something like a name, logo or slogan. Let me tell you, I am speaking straight from experience when I suggest that you should trademark any of your brand items.
Above everything, I want you to know that your works of authorship are just as important as your name and your logo because you are pouring your heart and soul into those as well!
Do you have a blog, book, painting, or if you know how to read it your own computer code? Each of these things is your authorship and is work protecting with a copyright!
A copyright exists the moment the work is created, however, you may be hard-pressed to prove that someone has actually copied your work. Even if it is verbatim, unless you can prove that they knew your work existed, it is often not proven.
Just as you register your trademark, this intellectual property, gives everyone constructive notice that that is your intellectual property. So it doesn’t matter if they checked the registry to see if something similar is created, it is just the fact that it is registered at all.
INSPIRATION VS INFRINGEMENT
I get it, we pour our hearts and souls into the work we create and we want people to honor that.
Now I think that there has been some cultural shifting going on that has been spurred by social media. This repost culture that we live in sometimes creates a credit problem. I want to encourage you to keep it simple. If someone ever uses any of your content on their social media page without your consent, and it doesn’t align with your messaging or audience, slide into their dm’s.
Yes, you read that correctly, this may sound like invalid advice from a lawyer **not your lawyer** saying to slide into someone’s dm’s but I like to remind people that we don’t want to assume someone did something with intention.
We live in this culture where posting and resharing has become okay and part of the norm so, don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights!
TIP: Use watermarks or logos on your images, because that is at least going to give you credit if they forget to do so.
Disclaimers are an excellent tool in any platform. You can use them across your website, your digital or printed materials, your digital agreements, and heck don’t be afraid to repeat it!
I like to tell my course creators to not assume your clients have read your agreement, but to make sure you put that content up front again, and say that this is how you can respect and use my content, and this is how you cannot use my content.
To begin integrating disclaimers into your business now, purchase an already compiled list of website disclaimers I have created for you in our shop!
Another source of protection is of course agreements. NDA’s and service agreements for whatever you are putting out into the world, is important. If you have an online course, coaching program, or anywhere where you are going to be putting your content out for the world, you need to decide if they become the owner of the intellectual property or are given a license to have your content.
But, if in fact, you were passing as a coach on incredible, transformational content that is part of your course or program, you are going to want to license that content to them, instead of pass ownership, you want to retain full ownership but give them a license to use the content in the way that it was intended. You even want to have the ability to withdraw access in the event of a violation, of your terms and conditions. That is so important!
As I mentioned earlier, as a business owner you not only have the responsibility to protect or set up the tools to protect your intellectual property, but you also have the responsibility to defend your rights.
Copyscape – A tool that you can use to protect your website from online plagiarism. They have a premium service that automatically monitors the web for copies of your content, and will notify you if any plagiarism appears.
Tin I – A reverse image search. They are a search engine that checks to see if anyone is using your images even if those are modified versions. They also have a premium service and will automatically let you know the locations where the images appear online.
Distill – Protects your website against web scraping. Now, this is especially important for those of you who offer online products, because this will make sure that someone is not copying or matching to beat your prices.
Those are just a few of my suggestions, now before we wrap this up, I want to talk about the big scary word, that’s right,
Using another’s work is copyright infringement when the work as a whole or a substantial part of it, has been copied.
Unfortunately, the precise meaning of this concept is defined on a case by case basis, but there is an excellent resource that you all should know about and this is referred to as the DMCA Takedown which is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which as a copyright owner, is a notice that can be sent out when you believe someone has posted an infringement and you want it to be taken down, without the hassle of filing an infringement lawsuit.
The copyright owner typically notifies the web provider that hosts the website, or even platform, which for example main social platforms have a form you can complete to notify them to inspect the content that you believe infringes on your rights.
I hope that you found this helpful, heck it’s really hard to advocate for yourself and the value you have created in this digital world.
So, I want to give you the permission slip, your value is important and is worth defending.
Let that sink in!
Until next time, join us in our private Facebook group as we will be talking more about this very topic right now!