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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 I: 3 Prerequisites for Copyright Protection

protecting a content based business part 1 prerequisites for copyright protection

You really should know the prerequisites for copyright protection in the US.

But first, let’s talk about protecting content. A lot of content, like online videos, long form blog posts, micro-blogging, podcast episodes, or some combination of those things. This is a three part series that’s going to break down:

  • The three things you need in order to qualify for copyright protection, (which you’ll find here, in part one)
  • How to make sure you own your creative content (part two); and
  • A list of content that’s eligible for copyright protection, some of which you might not have thought of yourself (part three).

But this is part one, the three prerequisites for copyright protection.

Prerequisite for Copyright Protection, #1: If you want to protect content, it’s gotta be creative.

This doesn’t just mean that it needs to be a work of art, a musical composition, a video, or something that you traditionally think of as creative. It means that your content can’t just be a fact, a mere list of ingredients, a mere idea. It has to be creative. The content should be something that’s the product of “the sweat of your brow.” You’ve worked to create this thing somehow.

You might look at some creative works and think the bar to creativity might be pretty low. You’re right. There’s not a huge bar to creativity. But it does have to be creative.

A theory, a process, an idea: these things are not creative enough to satisfy this prerequisite for copyright protection in the US. But if you have a group of facts that you’ve creatively arranged, that creative arrangement is protectable.

If you’re protecting content via copyright, it has to be tangible.

Now that we’ve gotten the creativity part out of the way, thing two is that it has to be tangible. Not tangible in that you have to actually be able to grab it and touch it. Tangible in that it lives outside of your head. It is either on paper, it is recorded, it is somehow accessible by someone else.

You’ve gotta own it.

The third thing is that it is actually original to you. Now, it can be something that you’ve collaborated with someone else on. Maybe you paid a contractor to contribute creative work. (And, hopefully, they signed a contract.) Or, you have collaborated with someone else and you both own it. Either way, it has to be an original creative work. I will talk a little bit more about originality in part two, but it should be original — as in original to you or owned by you.

So those are the three things: creative, tangible, original. Hope this helps you understand the three prerequisites for copyright protection, and I will see you in the next part of this series.