How to Prevent Copycats From Stealing Your Course Content

With more business owners looking to create courses online, it’s no shocker that there are people who might try to copy your hard work and call it their own. Not...

Image of desktop computer with the first webinar slide that reads Copycat-Proof Your Online Course

FREE TRAINING: Copycat-Proof Your Online Course!

Watch this FREE training to learn 3 simple legal strategies to stop copycats & IP thieves from stealing your course content now!

How to Prevent Copycats From Stealing Your Course Content

With more business owners looking to create courses online, it’s no shocker that there are people who might try to copy your hard work and call it their own. Not...

Image of desktop computer with the first webinar slide that reads Copycat-Proof Your Online Course

FREE TRAINING: Copycat-Proof Your Online Course!

Watch this FREE training to learn 3 simple legal strategies to stop copycats & IP thieves from stealing your course content now!

With more business owners looking to create courses online, it’s no shocker that there are people who might try to copy your hard work and call it their own. Not cool. Protecting your online course content is one of the most important steps you need to take as a course creator. 

Keeping your intellectual property safe is not only about copyright, although that’s very important. It’s also about making sure the knowledge you share in your online course remains intact in the way you meant to share it with your audience.

In this post we’ll share what’s at risk, what copycats look for and some of the biggest threats to your course’s content. Hint: It’s not what you might think! You’ll also discover the best way you can keep your online course content protected so you can keep doing what you do best.

Let’s dive in!

What We'll Cover...

Common Sources of Content Theft

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You may think that threats come from shadowy figures in distant corners of the internet. Often, it’s closer to home than we’d like to admit. There are two main areas where your content might be at risk: external threats and internal threats.

External Threats

These are what you might assume as your typical copycats — people or entities outside your organization who seek to repurpose your content for their own gain. They might stumble upon your course through a simple search or through more deliberate means, looking for a way to take advantage.

External threats can also include competitors looking to enhance their own business offerings and anonymous online users who might distribute your content through unauthorized sharing platforms.

Internal Risks (Most Common)

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but more often than not, the risk comes from within. This could be anyone with direct access to your course materials, such as team members, employees, guest contributors to the course, or even students who have purchased your course. 

While it’s assumed that the majority of people likely respect copyright, the reality is that there are people who might be tempted to share or reuse your content without permission, either innocently or intentionally.

What Copycats Look For

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Is your online course a target for copycats? Could be. Here are some things they tend to look for:

Copycats might feel they hit the jackpot when they find online courses that are not only valuable, but also easy to replicate and in high demand. They are looking for content that can be easily repurposed or resold with minimal effort on their part. (They want a quick buck!)

Often, courses that offer a unique perspective on popular topics, cutting-edge knowledge, or in-depth expertise that’s hard to find elsewhere increases the appeal. Your most popular courses are likely to be on their radar. 

It’s not just about the content itself but the perceived value it holds for a wider audience. If copycats can see the impact your course has on others, the interest is greater to replicate it as their own to sell.

Does this mean you need to scale down your online course to lose its appeal?

Absolutely not! 

It just means the more successful your course becomes, the more likely copycats will be lurking about.

Strategies to Protect Your Online Course Content

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Keeping your online course content safe is all about putting one key piece in place: legal protection in the form of written agreements.

You MUST set clear rules for the use of your content in your written agreements with your students, contractors, workers, and any business relationship that pertains to your course content.

Here are a few agreements you should consider getting in place to deter the unauthorized use of your course content:

Course Terms and Conditions

Your course terms and conditions works to protect you in a few ways:

First, it should lay out exactly how people are allowed to use your content. Can they take it off platform? Can they download it? Can they share it with a friend? When they buy it, do they own it or are they just getting a license to use it? 

Setting these rules up front can help deter people from misusing your content, intentionally or unintentionally.

Second, it should set a refund policy very clearly.

Sometimes (not always) copycats come into your course as buyers to check out the content, download it, and then get a refund. Having a clear refund policy that sets your rules for how and when students qualify for a refund can also deter users from accessing all the content and then asking for their money back.

Of course, there are copycats that will happily pay for access with the hopes of making money off it on their own. 

Contractor Agreements

Having a written agreement in place sets clear boundaries and expectations for your contractors is very important for many reasons. One such reason is to set out who owns the work your contractor creates for you. 

All of your contractor agreements should grant you full ownership over the work your contractor does for your business. If it doesn’t, you  might want to think twice about signing it.

Employee IP Transfer Agreement

Thinking about hiring an employee? Having an IP transfer agreement in place from the very beginning will ensure all the work your employee does for you is yours ONLY. 

They will have no legal right to take the work and sell it as their own later.

The Best Way to Prevent Course Copycats

Image of head of white cat, has aviator sunglasses on covering its eyes with a pink background. Topic: protect online course content

Written agreements create an immediate protection for your course content and makes it even more difficult for copycats to steal what is yours by deterring them from even trying. 

The world of legal agreements might sound daunting, but it’s essential when it comes to keeping your online course content secure, and quite frankly, it’s the best defense you have in preventing your online course content from copycats.

If your business has a team of employees and contractors, your written agreements need to set basic terms that include how your content is handled. Whether it’s your secret sauce or fully transferring rights to certain content, it needs to be spelled out.

For the students who purchase your online course, your written agreements need to set clear expectations of their role and responsibility as a student. This includes that they agree to the company as the owner of all intellectual property for the course content. 

In other words, to protect your online course content, some important points written in your agreements should include that: students are not allowed to re-use any of the trademarked property, students agree to abide by all copyright and intellectual property protection, and their access is limited to student-use only. 

Want to go deeper? Register for our FREE on-demand training Copycat-Proof Your Online Course: 3 Simple Legal Strategies to Stop Copycats & IP Thieves now!

Conclusion

While we can’t say there’s a magic button to stop copycats in their tracks (we wish!), we can say there is plenty you can do to deter them by making it super clear what they can and cannot do with your content. And it starts by getting your terms in writing!

That’s where Plainly Legal™ comes in to help.

With Plainly Legal™, you can easily generate your course terms and conditions, website policies (to protect your free content!), contractor agreements, employee agreements, and more with our smart Legal Doc Generator. In minutes you can create customized agreements while giving you peace of mind that your online course content is protected from copycats!

Click here to learn more about how Plainly Legal™ can help you protect your online course and your entire business!

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