Wondering how you can protect your content? You should be, sis.
You work HARD on the content you create. The last thing you want is to see it being replicated or stolen online by some copycat!
If you’re serious about protecting your content, you need to start thinking of your content as an asset.
Specifically, it’s an intellectual property asset.
This means that when you create any content – whether that’s written content, audio content, visual content, you name it – you’re creating an IP asset.
Only YOU, the creator of those IP assets, have inherent rights tied to the use of the content. The right to those assets under the law is called a copyright.
Under copyright law, when you own a copyright (or copyright asset), you have the exclusive rights to the use of it – to publish it, repurpose it, sell it, license it, whatever you want! It’s yours.
It’s time we start viewing ALL of the content we create for our businesses as true assets.
You poured time, creativity, and energy into content, so let’s get serious about protecting it, shall we?
How To Protect Your Content in 3 Steps
This guide will cover how to protect your content in three stages: how to protect your content when you’re creating it, when you’re publishing it and when you’re selling it!
When you’re creating content
The very first step to ensure you protect your content is to make sure you’re creating original content in the first place.
I’m sure you’ve heard the speech a million times in school, but do not plagiarize!
Maybe it’s not even something you’d do intentionally, but if you’re not careful, you can take feeling inspired by someone else’s work a little too far. Be sure to focus on being a true thought leader in the online space and sharing your own thoughts and ideas – not regurgitating someone else’s.
If you want to reference another person’s work, be sure to give them proper credit rather than claiming it as your own. And if you’re referring to statistics or studies in your online content, make sure you’re properly citing them!
When finding imagery for your online content, be sure to only use the content you have a proper license for. There are a TON of stock photography websites that let you download photos for free, and there are others where you must pay a small licensing fee!
Whether it’s a graphic element or a stock photo, just make sure you’re *only* posting what you actually have permission to post! If you’re not sure if you do, it’s better to err on the side of caution, friend.
Pro Tip: If you’re outsourcing your content creation (say to a content writer, virtual assistant, graphic designer, videographer, etc.) make sure you legally obtain the rights to the content.
With any service provider you’ve hired to create content, make sure you get an agreement in writing that specifies who owns the content that’s being created.
There are multiple ways to structure the arrangement:
- The original creator of the content might want to reserve their rights in the ownership and license it to you
- They might expressly transfer ownership of the content, of the copyright, to you
- You (as the business owner) might provide them with rights to continue using it in a limited way if you do own the content – say, for example, in their portfolio
If a service provider is providing you with a contract, make sure to pay close attention to the copyright clause. No matter what arrangement you choose, you want to make sure you have full control to use your content in any way that you need to in order to best serve your audience and spread your message far and wide. ✨
When you’re publishing content
Before you publish ANY content on the internet – ask yourself, did I create this? Remember, the right to post the content lies with the copyright owner.
If you’re using someone else’s content to promote or sell your services, that could be considered copyright infringement. And the last thing we want is for you to have a lawsuit on your hands! 😬
Once you’ve confirmed you do indeed own the content you want to post, here’s a good tip to protect it. 👇🏽
If you’re posting graphics on social media, make sure that you have your either Instagram handle or your business name somewhere on that graphic so that it is clearly tied to your company.
Of course, this won’t stop the most determined of copycats, but it will put up a bit more of a barrier, as it’s now clear this content asset belongs to you.
Next, on your landing pages or website footer, you can always put others on notice of your copyright ownership in your website – including the copy on your site, any graphics, etc.
To do so, all you need to do is use the circled C symbol (©) and the year the content was created.
You don’t need to register anything with the government to use this symbol.
As soon as you create the content, you automatically have rights to that content – you automatically have a copyright.
By using this symbol, you make it clear that this content isn’t for the public domain. It’s not a free for all and you reserve your exclusive rights in connection with that content.
Like a boss. 😎
When you’re selling your content
When you’re selling your content, the #1 thing you can do to make sure you protect your content is to have a contract in place.
You might be selling your content in a variety of ways:
- Online courses
- Digital products
You name it!
Whether you’re selling something for $7 or $497, you want to make it clear what the digital product terms and conditions are for the purchaser.
In your agreement, you’ll want to address questions such as:
- How long do they have access to the content?
- What type of access do they have to the content?
- Is it exclusively to use in their own life/business? Are they able to republish it themselves? Are they able to share it with their own audience or students?
While YOU may think the answers are obvious, they aren’t always to others. Make sure to spell out your terms and conditions clearly, so your clients know *exactly* how they can (and can’t!) use the content you’ve sold them.
However, even when you’ve explicitly stated how others can use your content, there’s a possibility someone will still steal it. While we’d like to think a fellow small business owner would never do such a thing, we’ve seen it one too many times to be surprised.
This is why no matter how careful you are when it comes to protecting your content, you should still monitor your content on the regular.
Make sure you’re doing frequent searches to make sure that nobody is infringing on your content.
A great tool to monitor for copied content is Copyscape. Their premium version automatically crawls the web for copied content and sends you a notification when plagiarized content is found, so you can take legal action!
While there will ALWAYS be a risk of your content being copied or stolen, we hope this guide showed you that you’re more in control than you think.
Don’t let the fear of a copycat hold you back from showing up as your authentic self online. Keep creating content while taking the steps to protect your intellectual property.
You’ve got this, friend! 💪🏽✨
Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates! So you can upgrade your client contract while staying Profitable & Protected™✨
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*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.