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What Makes a Post Sponsored?

What makes a post sponsored? You know, the kind of post where you have to include disclosures. Today, you’re really going to understand when those disclosures are necessary for a sponsored post, or when there’s a connection that might require disclosure.

What makes a post sponsored?

Obviously, if someone is sponsoring the post the way we all think of sponsors (where they pay you to post about something), that’s a sponsor. But what we’re really looking for is a material connection.

What is a material connection?

A material connection is any relationship between you and a brand, where there’s more than just “I like this product.”

  • You are receiving payment
  • You’re receiving a free gift
  • Or something that goes beyond just, “I like this thing.”

Do you have to be paid for a post to be considered sponsored?

Nope! Like I said earlier, you could receive a free gift. It could also be a family relationship, which would also make a post worthy of disclosure. While that’s not technically a sponsored post, you probably have a relationship there that goes beyond just liking a product. If you own stock in a company, and you’re posting about that company, that also counts.

If you have a material connection, that also means that you need to have a disclosure that is clear and conspicuous. It is not ambiguous. It is not the end of a post or the bottom of a blog post. It is not hard to find. It’s obvious! It’s not a hashtag that’s not couched in between a huge paragraph of hashtags (because nobody reads those anyway.) It’s not living somewhere else, except for on that post, even if it’s a visual-only platform like a TikTok or Reel.

Head to spear-ip.com/quiz to find that legal blind spot that secretly killing your business. Not only will you find out what that legal blind spot is, you’ll receive personalized guidance on how to fix it!

How To Write A Good Blog Disclaimer

woman researching how to write a proper blog disclaimer

If your blog post uses affiliate links or is sponsored somehow, then you need to know the anatomy of a sponsored post disclaimer. In this post, I’ll break down some elements of that disclaimer so you’ll have a good handle on what you should be including!

Blog Disclaimer Tip #1 – Don’t Be Vague

This one is pretty straightforward. Clear disclaimers are not ambiguous. They shouldn’t make your reader question whether or not the post is sponsored in some way. The FTC says so.

Blog Disclaimer Tip #2 – Don’t Make Your Readers Hunt for It

If you’re writing a long blog and post your disclosure is at the very bottom, that might not be enough. Your reader’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and they may not make it to the bottom of the post. So, you’ve included affiliate links, or you’ve mentioned a brand several times and you’re getting paid or receiving some benefit for doing so…and your reader didn’t know that the post was sponsored in some way. To sum up, bump that disclaimer up to the top!

Blog Disclaimer Tip #3 – Use Your Voice and be Honest

A disclaimer doesn’t have to be super technical and legal-sounding. If you are super selective about the sponsors that you work with and put a lot of time and thought into considering any type of sponsorship arrangement, let them know. Your readers will appreciate your diligence! Plus, you can say it in your own voice. That voice is what drew those readers to you, anyway.

Conclusion

To sum up, don’t be ambiguous with your disclaimer, don’t hide it, and use your own voice. Pretty simple, right?

What’s Next?

Looking for more legal help? Head to spear-ip.com/quiz to find out what legal blindspot is secretly killing your business.This quiz will help you to identify that legal blind spot and then once it’s identified help you figure out how to fix it.

3 Reasons to Copyright A Website

Let’s dive into the top 3 reasons why it’s important to copyright a website — aka why you should protect your website by registering it with the US Copyright Office!

#1 – Presumptions

Think of a presumption as an assumption. What things would you prefer to be assumed in a copyright infringement lawsuit?

  1. You don’t want to have to prove that you’re the owner.
  2. You don’t want to have to prove that everything about the copyright registration is valid.

If you copyright a website (aka register it with the Copyright Office), the presumption is that you are the owner, and that everything in that registration is valid. Instead of you having to prove that you own it, the other side will have to prove that you don’t own it.

It helps to have those presumptions in your favor!

#2 – Potential to Recover Statutory Damages

“Statutory damages” are something in the US Copyright Act that say you get between $750 and $30,000 per infringed work. If your website’s infringed, and this goes to court, you’re automatically entitled to damages in between that range. Yes, it’s a big range, and it depends on the judge you get and other circumstances.

By the way, if you can prove willful infringement (like, it was done on purpose)? That number bumps up to $150,000.

You might be thinking, “$750 on the low end, that doesn’t sound like much.” Well, if you don’t have your work registered with the Copyright Office on time, then you are limited to what’s called actual damages. And that’s usually the other side’s profits. Well, they might not have any profits to show from your infringement and then you really aren’t entitled to much. So, between $750 – $30,000 (plus attorneys’ fees!) sounds pretty good!

And speaking of attorneys’ fees…

#3 – Potential to Recover Attorneys’ Fees

Let’s say you don’t ever want to go to court so you start with a cease and desist letter.

If you’re on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter, and you know that if this does go to court, you’re going to have to pay the other side’s attorneys fees, you’re going to want to settle real quick, right?

By having in your letter that you own a registered copyright, that adds a little extra boost to your letter because they don’t want to be on the hook for your attorney’s fees. They don’t want this to go to litigation because if is a lot of attorney time, they’re more likely to say let’s just settle this now.

To wrap up – You got your presumptions. You got your statutory damages, and you’ve got attorneys’ fees. Three good reasons to register your website with the Copyright Office!

BONUS – It Saves Time!

Here’s a little extra reason. I had this client, Stephanie (yes, I’m changing names and circumstances a little bit because of a little thing called confidentiality.)

Stephanie created this awesome website, and her direct competitor copied it verbatim. Didn’t even try to change it a little bit. Stephanie found out about it. Stephanie called me and said, “I’ve never been more glad for your services.”

I said, “Tell me more about that.”

She told me about her current competitor and we sent a letter. It was really easy to handle because she’d already had it registered. We knew what she was entitled to. They responded to the letter and it was a really quick and easy process for Stephanie because she already had her stuff registered with the Copyright Office.

So be like Stephanie, and enjoy those three little remedies!

Head to spearip.com/quiz to find out what legal blindspot is secretly killing your business. I had so much fun designing this quiz. And I know that a lot of people feel like they don’t know what they don’t know. This is for you! This quiz will help you to identify that legal blind spot and then once it’s identified help you figure out how to fix it.

Why You Need A Podcast Guest Appearance Contract

photograph of a podcast microphone and books ready to research what's in a good podcast guest appearance contract

Let’s talk about some annoying problems you might deal with without a podcast guest appearance contract. A podcast guest contract is there to put everyone on the same page in terms of how you operate when you bring guests on your podcast. So what’s the worst that could happen without one?

https://youtu.be/f2ZjqKgafB4

Podcast Problem #1 – Release Dates

Thing number one is they might demand a certain release date. A good podcast guest appearance contract will say that you’re not obligated to release an interview on any date. What if something timely happens that you want to address on your podcast? Hello, 2020, right?

Podcast Problem #2 – Episode Approval

Next is that a guest could request the ability to approve the episode before you release it. That just adds an extra step. And maybe you don’t want to have to deal with that. So that’s something that a good contract will address.

Podcast Problem #3 – Forced Release

This is a biggie…what if the interview goes terribly, but the guest demands that you release the episode because she’s given her time to you already in recording it? You’ve heard me talk about what makes a contract binding. There’s a little something called “consideration,” which is the promise that each party makes in order to enter into the contract. “I promise to do this, you promise to do that, voila.”

I’m guessing you’re not paying your guests. So the “consideration” that they’re really receiving is the opportunity to be heard and to be on your platform. If you don’t make it clear that you’re not obligated to publish that interview in your contract, they might insist that you do so because they’ve given that consideration to you already.

Podcast Problem #4 – Pre-Promotion

Another thing that could happen is that your guest promotes her appearance on your podcast before you’re ready to do so. That might not be a big deal, or it might be a big deal. You don’t want to get scooped by your own guest.

Podcast Problem #5 – Co-Ownership

And then finally, and as you can imagine, this is a big one…maybe your guest claims co-ownership of the recording because they’ve helped you to create that recording. A good podcast guest appearance contract will make it absolutely clear that you the podcast owner own that recording.

Need a podcast guest appearance contract of your own? (A non-intimidating one that you can send to your guests, stress-free?) Click here.

Head to spear-ip.com/quiz to take my quiz on finding the legal blind spot that secretly killing your business. Not only will it tell you more about that blind spot, but it’ll help you figure out how to fix it.

How To Legally Send Out Email Marketing Content

email marketing

After this video, you’re going to stop Googling and Googling and Googling legal email marketing practices, because you’re going to get it. I have three steps for you to follow to finally rid that feeling of, “Eh is this, okay?” when it comes to how to legally send out email marketing content.

https://youtu.be/2aXiPhC9zWg


There are 3 key areas that we got to focus on when it comes to legally handling email marketing: Sending, Content, and Unsubscribe.

Email Marketing Tip #1: Sending

You want to be sure to send emails to people who have actually affirmatively opted into your email list. I kind of tricked you because this isn’t actually a legal requirement. I know, right? A lot of people would have you think if you’re crowdsourcing these kinds of tips in Facebook groups, that this is a legal requirement, but it’s not. However, it is a really, really, really good idea. So many services like MailChimp, and ConvertKit require that you only send emails to people who have opted into your email list.


That’s because people who have not opted in and receive your emails will mark them as spam, which makes it harder for these services to deliver emails to people’s inboxes. Plus, don’t you want people who actually want to read your stuff to get your stuff? I wouldn’t want someone who didn’t opt into my email list to get my stuff.


Email Marketing Tip #2: Content

These are just some little boxes to tick when it comes to the content of your email marketing messages. The “from” designation has to be accurate. If your email is coming from a brand, it can’t say that it’s coming from an individual or pretend to be an individual. The subject line of the email should not be misleading, or the content of the message. That should also not be misleading. The content of the actual email should be accurate. Here’s one you might not know – the email has to have your actual valid postal address. That’s why you see addresses at the bottom of a lot of marketing emails. And the message should disclose that it’s a marketing or advertising message.

Email Markeing Tip #3: Unsubscribes

It’s kind of like road rage when you unsubscribe from a list like three times and you still continue to receive their email messages, right? Every single marketing email that you send should have an unsubscribe option. And it shouldn’t require them to click through five times either. It’s got to be visible, it’s got to work and you’ve got to honor it. You can’t require a fee or other exchange of information in exchange for that unsubscribe. Make it easy for them.


So those are my three steps to how to legally send out email marketing: Sending, Content and Unsubscribe. I hope that helps you to avoid Googling that topic in the future!


I want you to head right now to spear-ip.com/quiz. I’m going to help you find that legal blind spot that’s been kind of lurking in the back of your mind, on the bottom of your to do list, and in the back of your business for a while now. And then I’m going to tell you how to fix it. Again, head to spear-ip.com/quiz!

Using Music in TikToks and Reels for Business

using music in tik toks and reels

Can you use music in TikToks and Reels if you use TikTok/Instagram for your business? The fact that I’m playing my son’s xylophone in the video above (instead of using music) might give you the answer!

But in truth, it’s a little bit more complicated than yes or no.

(At least for tik tok.)

By the way, that music that you hear in the intro to my YouTube videos, I purchased a license for that music.

And that’s not what I’m talking about today.

I’ve read the terms of use for TikTok and for Instagram. And I’m going to tell you whether you can actually use music in the background on your TikToks and Reels when you’re a business.

I am talking about the music that you see in a lot of Reels and a lot of TikToks either based on trends, or just because you feel like putting music in the background of a video.

Instagram (Facebook) and Music in Reels

Here’s what the Facebook company has to say about using music and videos. I’ve got those music guidelines right here.

“Use of music for commercial or non-personal purposes in particular is prohibited unless you have obtained appropriate licenses.”

Facebook Music Guidelines

…”Commercial or non-personal.” I would say that that means if you’re using Instagram or Facebook in connection with your business, that would be commercial or non-personal. And you may not not NOT use music, according to this policy. Which means you’re back to xylophone or whatever music you make up on your own, or music that is properly licensed.

Using Musing in TikToks (Legally)

TikTok is a little bit more complicated.

A long time ago TikTok was actually a lip synching app and it evolved over time. Because of its deep history as a music app, it’s got some arrangements with some music publishers. So there’s some music on TikTok that lives on there legally.

But here’s the thing.

The thing is that TikTok allows you to choose between a regular account, a “business” account, a “creator” account. Well, if you are a business on TikTok, you do not have access to a big bulk of music that’s available on TikTok. Instead, you’ve got access to a more generic sounds and music library (the “Commercial Music Library“), which allows businesses to use music. It’s royalty free, it’s all cleared. But it’s not as fun as maybe some of the trending dances. (Sorry.)

TikTok even says:

The Commercial Music Library is for any account that uses TikTok for marketing, advertising, sponsorships, endorsements or publicity, including official brand accounts, their promotional partners, NGOs and government organisations.

TikTok on Commercial Music Library

…”Their promotional partners.” Hmm. That might be you, content creator.

Here’s what you absolutely cannot do!

You absolutely cannot go on your phone or your computer and play, you know, the latest top 40 hits from your computer, do a little dance, create a little video on your TikTok account and then upload that to try and get around that music requirement.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

And here’s where it gets kind of confusing.

A lot of content creators are businesses, but they might have a creator profile and not a business profile. So if you have a creator account and not a business account, you’ll still see some of those fun songs. Your account won’t be limited to the Commercial Music Library. But you’re using TikTok in connection with business and promotion and marketing, because your business is content creation, and maybe sponsorships, and maybe teaching people about your expertise, which is your whole bread and butter.

A content creator is a business. So can a content creator use music on TikTok or NOT?

What is absolutely clear is that business accounts are not allowed to use that regular library of music on TikTok because of publishers becoming weary of say, brands using their music on TikTok. It’s that brand-music association that makes them twitchy. For that reason, I would stick to the Commercial Music Library or, at the very least, go the extra mile to make sure that you’re allowed the music you’re using on TikTok. Especially if your post has something to do with promoting a brand.

Not as fun, but neither is a copyright infringement lawsuit.

So I hope this helps you to understand some of the issues with using music in your Reels and TikToks.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Running a Giveaway (Legally)

woman reading about running a giveaway legally

If you’re running a giveaway on Instagram or elsewhere online, you must do it legally! Let’s talk about the three biggest mistakes that I see when people are running giveaways on social media.

Mistake #1: Creating an Accidental Lottery

Okay, so the first big mistake is accidentally creating a lottery. What the heck do I mean by that? Well, giveaways can actually fall under sweepstakes, contests or lotteries. A contest is something that’s judged based on criteria — like the best answer to a question or the most creative “whatever,” That’s a contest, when you have to judge the winner. A lottery, on the other hand is against the law in a lot of states.

What is a “Lottery,” and Why Is It a Problem?

To qualify as a lottery, you need a prize, you need chance — in other words, luck; luck of the draw — and you need “consideration.” What does consideration mean? Consideration means that to enter, you give something of value. It might be an email address, it might be a purchase. Note that an email address is completely free, but still valuable. A lot of times you’ll hear “no purchase necessary necessary to enter.” That’s because they’re trying to avoid a lottery. If your contest is actually a lottery, like I said, it could be against the law in a lot of states. (Some states consider lotteries to be gambling.)

Avoiding the Accidental Lottery

How do you avoid the accidental lottery? Well, you can make it into a pure contest, where you are judging people based on criteria — like I said, the most creative “whatever.” And you set out those criteria in your giveaway rules. OR, you give someone a totally free way to enter that doesn’t involve giving something of value. Tagging someone in the comments is an example. Another example? I ran a giveaway a couple weeks ago, and in my official rules, I said that you could enter either by filling out a survey, or by emailing me with the subject line “giveaway,” and that would count as an entry. Now, of course, you can give weight to different ways to enter. So, “you get five entries if you do this, you get one entry if you do this, no multiple entries allowed” — that type of thing.

Mistake #2: Not Having Giveaway Rules

You must, must must, must have giveaway rules in order to run a giveaway legally. You should also stick to those rules. Giveaway rules talk about things like how to enter, who’s eligible, what the prize is and what it’s worth, how the winner is chosen, how the winner is notified, and any other miscellaneous terms that are essential to your giveaway. For product-based prizes, you’ll often see that Alaska and Hawaii are excluded because the person holding the giveaway wants to avoid paying those Alaska and Hawaii shipping fees. You’ll also notice on Facebook and Instagram and many other social media networks that they require that you state that Facebook and Instagram or whoever is in no way affiliated with the giveaway.

Mistake #3: Not Adding the Proper Disclosures

Here’s a mistake you might not think of. Not disclosing when you are getting something for free in exchange for running the giveaway. Yes, even a giveaway can cause a sponsored relationship that you need to disclose to your audience. If you are getting something for free or something of value in exchange for running this giveaway, you have to disclose that to your audience. You should disclose that in any posts.

Running a Giveaway Legally: In Summary

So again, wrapping all of this up. One, avoid an accidental lottery. Two, have some official giveaway rules. Three, disclose, disclose, disclose if you are getting some kind of benefit or freebie or something in exchange for running this giveaway.

Those are the three biggest mistakes that I see made when people are running giveaways.

Legally Protectable Parts of a Blog

woman writing down the legally protectable parts of a blog

Curious about the legally protectable parts of a blog? Read on to learn a little more about copyright protection for a blog and trademarks for bloggers.

Blog Name

This is kind of an easy one, right? It is the name by which all of your readers recognize your work, your blog, and a name. Of course, the name is a protectable part of the blog because it is a signifier. And the thing that signifies a brand to your readers — the blog name — is protectable under trademark law.

Infographics

Next, infographics. Of course, that can be anything from an explanation of a process to a cool way that you’ve set out the ingredients that go into a recipe. And infographics are graphic designs, which are artwork, which are protectable, under copyright law.

Blog Posts

The actual blog post. So what is a blog post? It is text, it is maybe video or audio visual materials, maybe some kind of free download, and maybe graphic designs, and maybe all of those things. And each and every one of those things, is a creative work and creative content that is protectable under copyright law.

Videos

A video or a vlog. Well, that’s easy, it’s like a motion picture, right? And that motion picture or audio visual work is certainly a traditional creative work protectable under copyright law.

Hashtags (not really a protectable part of a blog, but quasi-protectable)

Hashtags are tricky. Sometimes, brands will use their own trademark, their own brand name, as a hash tag among other hash tags. When it’s used in that way, that trademark of course, is a trademark whether or not it’s a hash tag. It’s being used as a hashtag, but it is a trademark. Now other hashtags are moreso descriptors or descriptions — whether you are using DIY blogger, or #lifestyleblogger, or #lifestylebloggerlife, or any of those — those are hashtags you’re using to get people to find you. And because they are not really trademarks… they aren’t really copyright either. They’re not really anything, they are descriptors or descriptions used so that you can grow your audience, right?

Printables

Who doesn’t love a good printable? A printable is most likely a download and most likely in PDF or JPEG form. And so those are actually protectable under copyright law.

Photos

Same thing with photos, whether they’re downloadable or not, of course, photos are a huge part of blog posts, and photographs are certainly protectable under copyright law.

Recipes…kind of.

Finally, recipes. And this is a tricky one. So recipes, “mere listings of ingredients,” are actually called out as not protectable under copyright law. Now how to get around this as a blogger. Well, it’s very rare that you will see a blog post with just a list of ingredients without any kind of prose or at least instructions on how to make whatever the recipe is. And instructions by themselves too are kind of tricky when it comes to copyright law. But the more creative you can be with those instructions, the more storytelling you add to it, the more photos you add to the recipe, then it starts to become a more creative, copyright-protectable work. So recipes, kind of copyright territory depending on if you have the right elements in that post.

I hope this helps you to better understand what’s protectable in your blog, and whether it falls under copyright territory or trademark territory.

Disclosure Rules on Social Media

social media disclosure rules

In this quick read, you’re going to learn when to post a disclosure along with your social media post. (Hint: disclosures aren’t just for traditional sponsored posts.) You’ll also learn what makes for a good disclosure.

When do I need to follow disclosure rules on social media?

So, the very quick, very short answer to “When do I need to post a disclosure,” is whenever there is a “material connection” between you and the brand.

The question of course, is, what does “material connection” mean? A material connection is any connection between you and the brand that goes beyond just “I found this and I like it” or “I came across this brand and wanted to share it with you.”

The rules aren’t just for traditional “sponsored” posts.

Disclosure rules on social media aren’t just for sponsored posts. A “material connection” includes:

  • Receiving free products (or even discounted products),
  • Receiving a special invitation to an event
  • An employment relationship with a brand,
  • A family or friendship relationship with a brand, and
  • Some kind of stock ownership in a brand.

Basically, disclosure rules on social media come into play with any relationship that goes beyond what any of us consumers would have with a brand.

What’s in a good disclosure?

Well, a good disclosure is clear, and it is conspicuous. It is not ambiguous. A statement like “Thank you, [brand]!” is not really clear, and it’s a little ambiguous. It does not show that there’s some kind of material connection between the poster and the brand. Same thing with #partner. That kind of, might suggest that there’s something going on. But especially when you’re relying on hashtags, you want to make sure that those hashtags are very clear.

Does the user have to tap the “More” to see your disclosure? A lot of times people don’t tap more to see more. Even on visual media like instagram stories and Snapchat, you want to make sure that those disclosures are conspicuous.

So I hope you walk away today with a good explanation of what a material connection is, what a good disclosure has, and when to follow those disclosure rules on social media.

How Apple’s New Privacy Rules are a Good Thing for Influencers

I was probably unreasonably geeked when I saw that Apple’s new privacy rules that are rolling out in the fall of 2020. In this short post, you’re going to have an understanding of what Apple’s new privacy practices are, how they will affect the online space and why it’s a good thing for content creators.

Apple’s New Privacy Rules: The Features

When an app wants to track or collect data on a user, an Apple device will prompt the user. You’re actually already familiar with this. It’s just like the prompt you receive if an app wants to access your photos or access your microphone. But now, thanks to Apple’s new privacy rules, that prompt will say “Do you permit [app] to use your location data?” (For example.)

Also, an app will have to say which data they have on you that is linked to you. For example, financial information, contacts, browsing history, location purchases, and identifiers.

Probably the coolest part of this update is what Apple’s User Privacy Manager calls a “nutrition label for apps.” After the update, when you log into the app store, you will see that each app will have a nutrition label of sorts that shows what data they collect from users of the app, and what they do with it. That will be that data that’s linked to you and data that’s used to track you. The privacy updates will also apply if you’re a safari user. You will see a privacy report on that bar of Safari. You’ll be able to see all the third party trackers on a website when you’re on a website using Safari.

How is This Good for Content Marketing?

So what does this mean for content creators and influencers? Well, first, people in general might be less inclined to use certain apps once they see how their data is being used. Second, and most importantly, bought and paid for ads like Google ads like Facebook ads may start to be less effective when people are more in control of their own data.

That is where organic content marketing comes in. If traditional advertisements are less effective, because the data tracking has become harder to do or less effective itself, then don’t you see how organic content marketing can be all the more attractive? You, as a content creator, have analytics that don’t tie to any specific person. You can show engagement and keep track of that information without violating anyone’s privacy. And so content marketing and influencer marketing can only go up in value.

My opinion is that content marketing and influencer marketing will only continue to increase. So keep plugging away, and keep creating that content.

Protecting a Content-Based Business, Part 3: Content You Can Copyright

woman wondering what content you can copyright
Not a reader? Watch, and get the same exact info, here.

This is the third and final part of my three-part series on protecting a content-based business. In Part One, we talked about the prerequisites for copyright protection. In Part Two, we talked about making sure that you own that stuff.

And here’s part three, where I’m going to list off a bunch of content you can copyright with the Copyright Office. In other words, this is content that is protectable under U.S. copyright law.

Now when I say protectable, I mean able to be protected. So long as it goes back to those three things that I talked about in part one of this series: it’s creative, it’s tangible, and it’s owned by you.

Alright, let’s get to the categories of content you can copyright!

Content You Can Copyright, Category 1: Text.

This can be blog post text, text on a social media posts like an Instagram caption, the script for a video, and show notes for a podcast episode.

Content You Can Copyright, Category 2: Photos.

Blog post photos, photos from social media posts, those all count.

Now what does not count? Stock photos. Even if you’ve paid to use those stock photos, you probably don’t own them unless you commissioned a photographer to take some stock photos for you. And even then, check your agreement with the photographer to make sure you understand who owns those photos.

Category 3: Video. (Obviously.)

But watch out for any stock video elements. You probably don’t own those.

Content You Can Copyright, Category 4: Audio.

That can include any music you created, that includes podcast episodes, and that includes audio trainings.

Again, just like with stock photos, if you’ve paid for a license to use music in any of those settings, whether it’s your podcast intro or whatever it is, you might not own that music. A license is not ownership, it’s permission.

Category 5: Your Opt-In.

Opt-ins can definitely be protectable under US copyright law. This includes:

  • Downloadable PDFs,
  • webinars,
  • audio trainings,
  • templates you’ve designed,
  • checklists,
  • even quizzes.

Those things are all protectable.

Content You Can Copyright, Category 6: An Online Course.

An online course is chocked full of different content you can copyright. It’s full of:

  • Worksheets (aka, text),
  • Video,
  • Maybe audio recordings,
  • Maybe infographics.

All of that creative stuff that goes into an online course? Yep, that’s protectable under copyright law.

Finally, Content Category 7: Graphic Designs.

Graphic designs are artwork, and they are definitely protectable under copyright law. That includes:

  • Your pins that you pin to Pinterest — so long as you own all of the elements that go into the creation of that pin.
  • Podcast cover art,
  • Infographics,
  • Video thumbnails, and
  • Graphic designs that are encompassed into your video.

So I just ran through a bunch of things that are encompassed into content-based businesses and that are protectable under US copyright law.

I hope this series helps you when you think about protecting your content-based business!

Protecting a Content-Based Business, Part 2: How to Make Sure You Own Your Content

woman wondering how to make sure you own your content
Visual learner? Get the same info in video form, here.

This is part two in a three-part series on protecting your content based business. (This was part one.) I’m talking about how to make sure that you own your content.

Make Sure You Own Your Content by Actually Creating It Yourself

The first way to make sure that you own your content: create it yourself. It sounds a little bit obvious, but if you create the entire thing yourself, it is likely that you own it.

(Unless you’re an employee and you’re somehow creating it in the scope of your employment for someone else.)

Do you have to mail yourself a copy in order for you to somehow own it? Do you have to register it with the Copyright Office in order to somehow own it? Nope, and nope.

That’s it. Number one: make sure that you created it yourself, and you probably own it.

Now, did you use others somehow in the creation of this content? Examples might be a video editor, or a copywriter contributing to parts of your website. Really any other person that is contributing creative content to your overall work. If so, that person should sign a contract, making sure that you own the rights to that material. I call it an IP Rights Agreement, you might call it or have heard of it as a Work-for-Hire Agreement or IP Assignment Agreement. Either way, you need to make sure that that person signed over the rights in their contribution to you. Otherwise, the default rule is that they own it.

Quick recap.

It’s that simple. One, make sure that you created it. Two, make sure that anyone that contributed to your creative work signed a document confirming that you own the IP.

That’s it for part two! Join me in part three, where I’m talking about a long list of things that you can protect under US copyright law. (Some of which I bet you haven’t thought of.)