Protect Your Digital Product With These 2 Steps

Copy of copyright notice

It is not uncommon to hear entrepreneurs use the pregnancy analogy when referring to their business. No matter how if you’re really excited to step into parenthood or if it catches you totally by surprise your reactions were probably the same. You were nervous when you first heard the news. Is this really happening? Can I really do this?  As you accepted the fact that yes, this is really happening and just maybe I can do this, you get excited and start preparing for your little ones arrival. Finally, the big day comes. After hours of labor, your bundle of joy is here. You’re exhausted but it’s worth it. You’re full of love and pride. As you look at your new baby you know that you would do everything in your power to keep her safe.

Life as an entrepreneur is very similar except the baby is your e-course, your book, your workshop, etc… You worked hard to produce this work. You listened to your clients, the questions they constantly asked, the information they requested on a regular basis, and the things that they want more of. An idea was formed. You worked long hours, missed social events with friends and the latest scandal at Olivia Pope and Associates working on the perfect solution. It’s launch time and you’re terrified. Is it really ready? Yes. Will my target market find valuable? Yes. But the biggest question you have is “how can you do everything in your power to keep your baby safe?”

  1. Give Them Notice

You have the inherent rights to exclude people from copying, sharing, performing, or creating derivate works of your original works. These rights are called copyrights and they belong to the author from the moment work is fixed into a tangible form. You’ve seen this symbol before ©.   This symbol places the public on notice that the material they have come into contact with is copyrighted material that cannot be copied, shared, performed or alternated without the owners consent.

Originality means independently created

One way you can deter people from copying your digital product is to put them on notice that copyright law protects the material. Use the © symbol in combination with a copyright notice in the beginning of the work. If it is a book, place it behind the title page, an e-course/webinar put it on a slide before you start your presentation, or if it is an audio course you can read the copyright notice before you start your course. You can even include copyright notice in your client retainer agreements. Although law no longer requires the copyright notice, it will definitely make people think twice before copying and sharing your work.

  1. Register Your Product

I just told you that you have an inherent right to exclude people from copying, sharing, performing, or creating derivate works of your original works so why in the world do you have to register it? What does that even mean and where do you register it?

Yes, you do have an inherent copyright to the work you created but registration has gives you greater power to enforce your rights. Registration has the following benefits:

  • Allows the owner to bring copyright infringement suit,
  • Provides a public record on when the work was created,
  • Can serve as prima facie evidence of a valid copyright if registered prior to or within five (5) years of infringement and
  • If filed within three (3) months or prior to infringement can allow for statutory damages and attorney fees (otherwise you are limited to the actual damage caused by the infringement).

Copyright registration is simply the legal formality of making your copyright public record by entering into the United States Copyright Office system. You can visit www.copyright.gov to start the process. At only $55, there are no excuses for not registering your work. The copyright notice with the copyright registration is a powerful combination.

By the way you can check out my “babies” here including the free copyright notice template I drafted.

~LaConya “Connie” Murray, Esq.
The Small Business Attorney

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