Blog Cover "Top 10 Tips to Protect Your Knowledge as a Course Creator"

Imagine waking up one day to find your hard work being sold by someone else without your permission. This nightmare can be a reality for many course creators, but there are steps you can take to protect your intellectual property.  This situation  is known as plagiarism, and it can be devastating for creators. 

A recent blog post by Heightsplatform explained that some course creators in the US can make a good living selling their courses, earning anywhere from $5,000 to $25000 per year for those who do it on the side or up to $120,000 per year for those who sell courses as part of their Business. Some creators make millions of dollars annually if their main Business is online courses. By 2030, the online learning market is expected to reach $645 billion. To read more, click the link

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a legal right and framework that gives the creator of an original work exclusive control over how it’s used and distributed. It means others cannot use, reproduce, or distribute that work without the creator’s permission. This protection covers various forms of creative expression, such as writing, art, music, and more.

We previously wrote a blog post on Do These 10 Top Tips And Increase Sales For Course Creators, and now this blog post will discuss some legal rights and steps you as a creator must take to safeguard their course content. So let’s go

Tips to protect your knowledge as a Course Creator: 

1. Intellectual Property Rights:

Intellectual property means Intellectual property (IP), a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property; some countries recognise more than others. The best-known types are patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.

Consider copyrighting your materials

  • To protect your Course, Materials, Creative Works, and Business, consider registering them with the federal government, such as the US Copyright Office, to establish a public record of your copyright. You can do this yourself or seek the assistance of a lawyer if needed. 
  • When using materials in your teaching, it’s crucial to obtain permission from copyright holders and licenses for copyrighted content or seek permission to use copyrighted works under fair use.

For instance, Coursera, is committed to ensuring its content does not infringe on copyrights. The website’s content, including all text, images, audio, and code, is copyrighted from creation and protected by copyright law. The team at Coursera monitors content to ensure that it is free of any infringement and takes swift action to remove any infringing content upon notification by the copyright owner.

It’s worth noting that literary and artistic works, such as website content, are automatically copyrighted in over 170 countries as soon as they are expressed in tangible form. No registration is required to protect your work. However, in the United States, registration with the Copyright Office (for at least $45) is necessary.

If you discover someone illegally copying and selling your course

Note: Keep in mind that ideas and concepts are not considered intellectual property and do not have legal protection. But, if you discover someone illegally copying and selling your course, there are several steps you can take to address the infringement and protect your intellectual property:

  • Document and gather evidence of the infringement
  • Send a cease and desist letter to stop them from using and selling your course immediately.
  • Issue a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice if it’s hosted on a website or platform.
  • Speak with a Legal Practitioner who specialises in intellectual property law. 
  • File a Lawsuit
  • Copyright Infringement Complaint to the Website/Intermediary
  • Social Media Reporting
  • Inform your audience/customers about the unauthorised use of your course content and advise them to obtain your materials only through legitimate channels.

There is no one answer, and the solution depends upon the exact facts of the problem, so it’s vital to seek legal advice and guidance.

2. Use Contracts:

When you create courses, it’s better to move an inch towards protecting your work by creating a contract, an agreement stating your copyright instructions and consequences for bridging, and if you are working with clients, state and give comprehensive agreements. Define ownership rights, usage terms, and any limitations on the distribution of your course content. 

3. Watermarking and Branding:

Branding and watermarking can be incredibly useful in establishing your brand identity and protecting your content. 

  •  You can create a strong visual and auditory presence that sets you apart by including your logos, brand elements, and unique identifiers in your course materials and videos.
  • You can also use your voice and face in your videos to connect with your audience personally.
  • In addition, placing your watermarks or branding elements in key locations within your materials can help prevent theft or unauthorised use of your content.
  • Incorporating your brand colours, imagery, and website URLs in your PDFs can further reinforce your brand identity and establish a strong visual presence. 
  •  Finally, including references to your brand within your written content can help establish your social media presence and promote your brand to a wider audience.

This way, even if your content gets stolen, it’s still marked with your brand elements and identities. 

4. Secure Hosting Platforms:

If you are selling your course on any website, it’s advisable to choose secure hosting platforms that offer robust digital rights management (DRM) features. These platforms can help control access to your content and prevent unauthorised downloads.

Also, if applicable, consider hosting your courses on membership sites with access controls. This allows you to manage and monitor who has access to your content.

Resources: 

The 9 best online course platforms 

11 Best Platforms to Sell Online Courses 

5. Frequent Updates:

One of the great benefits of purchasing courses from creators who offer lifetime access is the frequent updates they provide. These updates ensure that the course material remains relevant and make it more difficult for others to copy or misuse the original content. In addition, regular updates create a sense of anticipation among users and encourage them to explore other products or services offered by the brand.

6. Freebies: 

People like free things, so you can decide to divide your courses into several parts and, within the course, inform the buyers via the course that there is a community link, e-mail list, offers, discounts for some other memberships, free e-books and all that would make them want to purchase legally, be a part of your brand, and anticipate your future courses. 

If someone bought your course illegally, but because the creator mentioned an intriguing offer that comes with purchasing this course, it would make them want to pay for the course from the legal course website or platform. 

7. Monitor and Address Unauthorised Use:

To ensure the protection of your course content, it’s important to monitor and address any instances of unauthorised use or distribution. 

  • You can achieve this by closely monitoring various online platforms, such as social media and YouTube. 
  • Additionally, you can conduct periodic Google searches to keep track of any information available about you and your course on the internet. 
  • Planning how and where you want to distribute your course is crucial.
  •  Doing this can minimise the risk of anyone copying your material. You can launch a course website, share a video on YouTube, or use specific platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or Domestika. Minimisingminimising these proactive measures, you’ll be able to safeguard your course content from unauthorised use

8. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs):

When collaborating with others, it’s always a good idea to implement Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to ensure that all parties involved are bound to confidentiality. This will help protect any sensitive or proprietary information and prevent any unauthorised disclosure.

9. Educate Your Audience:

Educating your audience is one way to ensure that your course content is correctly used and respected. Clearly communicate the terms of use for your content and explain the importance of respecting intellectual property rights. Doing so can help discourage unauthorised sharing and promote a more constructive and positive learning environment.

10. Backup Your Content:

To secure your valuable materials and prevent data loss, it is highly recommended to regularly back up your course content. This practice helps you prepare for unforeseen circumstances and ensures you always have access to your important data.

Resources: 

Backup Tips for Creative Online Course Teachers

In conclusion

Combining legal safeguards, technological measures, and proactive monitoring, you can significantly enhance your knowledge protection as a Course Creator.