Copyright impacts almost every business owner, especially the online entrepreneur. If you have a blog, a podcast, a membership area, an e-book, an information product, or any of the variety of other types of content pieces used by online entrepreneurs, you have rights in those works. Those rights are covered by Copyright.
Copyright is a concept most people have some type of grasp on because it is so prevalent. Copyright protections are originally found in the U.S. Constitution. Copyright protects “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression”. Copyright extends to works that are both published and those that have not been published. Copyright is designed to protect your “original works of authorship”. Types of works protected by copyright include: literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.
Doesn’t that make it clear? Let’s break it down and see how this impacts you.
Say you have a new idea for an e-book. You think of the idea while you are in the shower (you obviously don’t write it down). You are busy that day and you forget to ever write down your new idea (I know this is farfetched, but bear with me for the example). You think about it again when you are going to sleep (but you are too tired to make any notes). As a busy entrepreneur, you forget about this amazing idea for an ebook until a month later when someone comes out with an idea that is almost exactly the same as yours. Do you have any protection?
No. You didn’t write it down. The idea never left your head.
With Copyright, the protection of your work begins when you take an idea out of your head and fix it in a “tangible medium”. This can be accomplished by drafting a first draft of a book or making a first sketch of a work of art.
Lesson 1 – PUT IT IN WRITING!
So, let’s say you do write it down. It is important to do more than simply write down: don’t forget to make awesome e-book. You need something that shows the structure and the creative part of your idea. In this case, it is not so much about protecting your work from others (remember it isn’t fully fleshed out, so there is nothing to steal yet), but to establish your process and the existence of your idea to protect you from someone else claiming you infringed on them.
Lesson 2 – Document the process
A long time ago, copyright protection did not exist unless you gave notice to the public of your copyrighted work. It is no longer a specific requirement for Copyright protection, but it is often helpful for the author and the consumer of an original work of authorship. Copyright notice (©), unlike the mark for a registered trademark (®) (which we will get to on Day 6) does not require permission from the United States Copyright Office. because the rights of copyright attach when the work is created. To create proper notice, the indicator must include either the “C” with a circle around it or some other indication of a claim of Copyright, the year of first publication and the name of the author.
It is important that you make indication of Copyright on any material you create for your new business, especially your website, any white papers you create, or any special tools you use to market or with your clients that are proprietary in nature because you developed them as part of your business. This will help to show those who consume your content that it is yours and when you created it.
Lesson 3 – Let everyone know it is yours
The protection of copyright keeps others from stealing your works and using them for financial gain. We will talk more about the rights you have to protect in copyright when we talk about infringement and how to protect your copyrighted work.
For now, start looking at the work you are creating in your business and make sure you are documenting the process (from start to finish) and placing the copyright notice on your work to establish your ownership. If you created works a long time ago, but did not place the copyright notice on it, that’s fine, just go back and add © with your name and the year it was created through this year. If you have never changed it since you created it, just put the year of creation. Remember, notice is not a requirement of copyright, it just helps to prove it.
You may have been doing this for a while, so you may have a lot. It is fairly simple to place the information on your site. Just remember, your site has works from the first time you published until now, so use a date range there. Then, go back and make the updates to your digital products and notices.
So, you have some work to do. Don’t worry, it isn’t a graded assignment. But, it is an inexpensive way to begin protecting your copyrights.