Is someone stealing your content, passing it off as their own and profiting from your endeavours?
There’s been a new noise in the business marketplace amongst small business owners such as digital marketers, coaches and professional business advisers. People are ‘ripping off content’, using the material as proprietary and then profiting from it.
The individuals who have been targeted by such activities are now speaking up to seek advice on what action they can take to protect themselves or stop the behaviour.
While this is not new in business, there is no doubt this situation can trigger a bunch of emotions when you are hit with such findings.
When you’ve put your blood, sweat and unicorn tears into establishing a project the last thing you want to worry about is people ripping off your creativity when you want to focus on serving your audience.
I’ve put together 5 factors to empower your decision making on the action you can take and protect your business.
Tighten up your agreements
One thing that stood out or lacked robust measures was clarity on the rules of engagement.
Some of the people stealing content had been previous clients, therefore had full access to their advisers or coaches material. Unfortunately the person who used the material as their own did not see this as stealing but rather promoting.
‘I’ve stolen your content because I love what you do, but now I don’t know what to do next with this client, can you help’.
This quote above is based on real life scenarios. While it’s not verbatim this was basically the message the perp shared in short. It sounds ludicrous right?
The first step should be reviewing your client agreements. Make sure they are crystal clear on how they can use your material and set the standards you accept working together.
I recommend you seek advice from your legal professional and ask them to include a clause that protects your IP, along with your material NOT being permitted for resale or commercial use.
Copyright infringement is using someone else's creative work, which can include a song, a video, a movie clip, a piece of visual art, a photograph, and other creative works, without authorisation or compensation, if compensation is appropriate.
Reach out to the perp
It may sound confronting to reach out to the culprit taking your content, it doesn’t need to be though. This is your chance to dig under the covers a little more of why they did it and set the standard of what you accept.
There are polite ways to engage with people and still maintain a firm message to get the outcome you desire.
Send them an email, give them a call or pop a letter in the mail letting them know you notice ‘XYZ’ and ask them to take it down. Importantly ask for a reply by a certain date and the next steps to anticipate.
Be authentic and vulnerable, this means avoid legal jargon the first time you reach out. While I get you may wish to give them a slap we are not going in for combat in round one.
If you do not hear from them make sure to follow up. They are most likely scared and may have taken down the material already or ceased the specific operation.
Unfortunately some people may not know they are actually doing the wrong thing as their perspective is they are promoting you as they love your work. I know, I know but you’ll be surprised.
While common sense or morality should prevail, sometimes we need to educate first. So take the higher road and engage for a peaceful outcome.
Use it as a new business opportunity
As mentioned above, you can provide the culprit an amicable way to rectify the situation so everyone benefits.
You may not realise this could be a blessing in disguise, giving you an opportunity to scale your business further.
Look into the reason of why they are stealing your material, simply by asking them, as there may be a valid reason and you can provide a solution. This can include:
- Offering them services
- Creating a certified model
- Another income stream
Don’t dismiss the possibilities too soon or feel threatened by the competition, as you’ve got this! They are copying you for a reason.
Don’t lock your content
The first thing that may come to mind after your material has been copied, is to lock your content. This is what I wanted to do when an ex-employee took my website copy.
I wanted to use passwords or plugins on my website and blog to prevent them from copying and pasting material. Will this really work? Maybe or maybe not - but I do believe in prevention measures.
So I questioned is this really the right thing to do?
I reached out to my mates in Espresso With Dan about this scenario and the feedback was eye opening.
Colette Mason, Coach & Non-Fictional Publisher from Let’s Tell Your Story Publishing advised that locking content is the wrong way to go.
‘If someone wants to steal your content they will find a way, and you will be doing a disservice to your customers who may use the content for personal purposes’.
This makes sense right?
You really need to weigh up the pros and cons. If you’re sharing information with your audience or for visibility, locking content is most likely not the way to go.
Forget about it
The reality is people will copy content. If you find it breaches copyright infringement and has significant impact on your brand or profits you can enforce such measures.
You should decide first whether the fight is worth it.
Remember, those who are stealing or copying content most likely are struggling with idea creation or how to proposition themselves authentically.
The chances of them sustaining a successful career with these methods or creating scale on your level will be rare.
Maybe it’s time to ‘just forget about it’ and move on.
What’s your consensus, do you believe that the weaker competition are copying or abusing other’s content because they will not get caught or they do not understand copyright laws?
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Copywrite infringement source: plagarismchecker.com