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My Top 4 Legal Tips for Online Businesses

woman preparing to look up top legal tips for online businesses

My top four legal tips for online businesses. In this post you’re going to get an idea of my top tips when it comes to disclosures, copyright, and ideas.

Disclosure Requirements Apply to All Media.

First, remember that disclosures apply to all media. That means it’s not just for sponsored posts on instagram but also emails, blog posts, videos, photographs, anywhere where you’re talking about something and you have a material connection to that brand or that business — and remember a material connection can mean you’re getting paid, you’re getting free stuff, if it’s a family relationship — anytime there’s a material connection you have to disclose that to your viewer, your audience, your reader. And that disclosure should be conspicuous! That means it shouldn’t be hidden in tiny fine print at the bottom of a marketing email or affiliate email, it shouldn’t be at the very bottom of a blog post because someone might not scroll all the way down to the bottom of a blog post. Conspicuous means hard to miss.

Copyright Ownership Happens Earlier Than You Think

Next, when it comes to copyright, know this:

You own the stuff that you create by default. You don’t have to register it with the Copyright Office in order to own it.

(I say you own it and there are some exceptions when you’re an employee creating stuff for your employer.)

But for the most part, the default rule is you create it, you own the copyright to it, boom. You don’t have to mail it to yourself, you don’t have to register it — although, and that takes us to number three…

Copyright Registration Is Worth It

Copyright registration does have its benefits for a bunch of reasons. Like:

  • You don’t have to prove that you own it;
  • You can get statutory damages ($$$$); and
  • You can get your attorneys’ fees back.

Understand the Law of Ideas.

Finally, let’s talk for one second about ideas. An idea is just an idea.

Uber and Lyft: same idea.

Amy Porterfield and Jenna Kutcher both have online courses on how to grow your email list. Same idea.

What’s protectable is how you express that idea. What makes how you do it awesome? What makes it unequivocally you? Those little unique factors are probably what’s protectable about your idea.

So I hope that shines a light on my top four legal tips for online businesses and i’ll see you next time.


An Online Brand’s Guide to Dealing with Copycats

Itching to contact that copycat, but not ready to go full lawyered-up-cease-and-desist, yet?

In this free resource, you’ll get:

  • A little checklist to run through before you contact someone yourself;
  • An idea of things that you can say; and
  • What NOT to say.

Click here for access.

3 Benefits of Registering A Website with the Copyright Office

woman contemplating whether to register a website with the copyright office

Pretty self-explanatory by the title: you’re going to get the top three benefits of registering your website with the Copyright Office. Let’s go!

If you’d rather watch/listen instead of read, click here!

Benefit of Registering A Website with the Copyright Office #1: Presumptions. 

Now, before your eyes glaze over, let me give you a little explanation of what a presumption is.

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

Well, if you register the website with the Copyright Office, the presumption is that you are the owner, and that everything in that registration is valid. So, let me put it a little bit differently.

You don’t want to have to prove that you’re the owner, and you don’t want to have to prove that everything about the copyright registration is valid, right? That the information in that application 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. Got it?

So it helps to have those presumptions in your favor.

Benefit #2: Potential to recover statutory damages.

Statutory damages are something in the U.S. Copyright Act that say you get between $750 and $30,000 per infringed work.

So if your website’s infringed, and this goes to court, you are automatically entitled to damages inbetween that range.

Yes, it’s a big range, and it can depend on the judge you get, but if you can prove WILLFUL infringement, that number bumps up to $150,000.

You might be thinking “$750 on the low end 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 the infringement. So then you really aren’t entitled to much.

So between $750 and $30,000 sounds pretty good.

Benefit #3: Potential to recover your attorneys’ fees if it goes to court.

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

Well, 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, right? Because they don’t want to be on the hook for your attorneys’ fees, so they don’t want to go to litigation because that’s a lot of attorney time. They’re more likely to say “let’s just settle this now so we don’t have to pay attorneys’ fees.”

So there you go. You’ve got your presumptions, you’ve got your statutory damages, and you’ve got attorneys’ fees.

Three good reasons to register your website with the Copyright Office.

Enjoy those three little remedies. And I hope this helped you to understand the three major benefits of registering a website with the Copyright Office. 

Hey, online business owner! I’ve got a little something for you. Learn four things that you can do RIGHT now to protect your business online — one thing delivered to your inbox for four weeks — by clicking the image below.

Protecting a Blog (Series): Copyright + Copy

protecting a blog with spear ip

When we think “the media,” a blog might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but think about it. A blog is content that is updated daily (if not more frequently), and a single blog post can be shared thousands of times. So when it comes to blog content, what’s protectable, and how do you protect it? This two-part series will look at just that. Below, you’ll learn about the protectable elements in a blog and some of the Copyright Office policies at play (hint: they work in favor of blog owners!).

Continue reading “Protecting a Blog (Series): Copyright + Copy”