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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.

CONTACT COPYCATS YOURSELF WITH CONFIDENCE

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.

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.)