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So you are a teacher, a graphic designer, a developer, or any other type of content creator but you are not sure whether to share your content online because you are afraid it will get copied?
On one hand, providing online courses is a profitable business, on the other hand ensuring your e-learning content’s security can be a challenge. It’s crucial for you to understand how to copyright an online course since it’s your most valuable asset but at the same time the easiest to steal.
Creating unique online courses can take a lot of time and effort. The idea of someone stealing your content, presenting it as their own, and sharing it with others while profiting from it can be infuriating. It’s never been easier for bad actors to reap the benefits of your work. Beyond the feeling of injustice that comes with getting your work copied, it can also impact your business’ efforts negatively.
It’s possible for anyone who creates an online course to unknowingly infringe on copyrighted material merely by incorporating content from the internet or paper-based resources.
This article provides an outline of copyright infringement as it pertains to the creation of online courses.
There’s a lot of room for debate here. In order to use someone else’s work, you will need their permission unless it is “open-licensed” or fits the “fair standard” rules, in which case you do not need permission.
Before you decide to abandon the idea of creating a course, it’s important to learn about your alternatives for using copyrighted material. The “Fair Use Standard” and the “Creative Commons” open licenses are two examples.
Fair use is a defense tactic for copyright infringement claims in the 1976 version of the United States Copyright Act. Using someone else’s content or assets requires evaluating whether or not you’ve violated their copyright under the fair use criterion.
Using original work without the permission of the creator is permitted under fair use, as long as the use of the content is not unduly “unfair” to the original creator, as defined by copyright law.
When it comes to copyrighted educational resources, the case for the fair use of original information must be made using established standards (such as a textbook).
Fair use dictates that any copying of copyrighted content must be done only for the purpose of critiquing, commenting on, or parodying the material in question. Copyright owners do not need to give their consent for such straightforward uses.
A group called Creative Commons is devoted to providing the public with open-licensed original content, but only under certain terms. All creative commons licensed works require that the user credit the originator and link back to the source.
By creating Creative Commons, the goal is to provide all content creators with an easy and free means to grant copyright licenses for their work, assure correct acknowledgment, and allow others to copy, distribute, and use it.
Creative Commons-licensed content can be used in your course if you credit the creator and the objective is educational, such as “BY-NC” content (not the case with a Udemy course).
Other legal and technical tools (such as a search engine) provided by Creative Commons make it easier to locate creative works that you can utilize in your online course materials.
Getting permission and/or acquiring a license to use the content is an option in circumstances where fair usage does not apply. Be specific in your correspondence with the copyright owner. If you want to use an extract in a MOOC course for commercial purposes, you’ll need to identify the precise rights you require. For online learning, make sure you get permission and inquire about whether or not the content can be amended.
After that, you can discuss payment and acquire written permission to do whatever you desire.
It’s important to note that contacting the owner of intellectual materials and obtaining permission is not always simple. Give yourself plenty of time to do this task.
When it comes to protecting your online courses there’s not one specific way to protect them. The moment you upload your content to the internet it becomes at risk of being stolen. In many cases, it can be as easy as, copy-paste, a screen recording, or downloading a PDF.
Without a proactive strategy to protect your online course, you could find your content resold or reused without permission. Therefore, if you create e-learning content — Whether you are an online trainer for SEO courses or a content creator to study languages online, there are certain ways to legally protect your online courses, and most importantly your business.
So how do you copyright your online course in the realities of the Internet’s ‘sharing economy’?
We have talked to our Red Points’ in-house expert Bruno Klumpp Abegao, Platforms & Policy Operations Manager, and here are five tips on how you can protect your online courses or programs:
First and foremost, make sure to register your copyright which is the legal right creators have over their original, creative work and which allows them to monetize it. If someone sees that you have placed a copyright on your online course, they may be less inclined to steal it by fear of breaking the law.
For online course content creators, the work protected by copyright would be images, graphs, texts, videos, or PDFs. Compared to patents or trademarks, registering a copyright is an easy and straightforward process and it will help you to pursue legal action while adding an extra layer of protection and peace of mind for you and your business. In easier words, if you have your content registered it will save you a lot of time since you won’t need to prove afterward that the material is yours.
It’s crucial to understand how you want to distribute your course. Are you planning to launch a course website or share a video on YouTube or use a specific platform to share a course like Udemy or Domestika? This will have a direct impact on how easy or hard it is for others to copy your material.
Specific platforms already have mechanisms and technology in place to protect your online course videos from being downloaded. This extra “wall of protection” will make it harder for your material to be downloaded and used without your consent. Another advantage of using a professional platform is the consumer experience and trust. When searching for online courses, potential consumers might be more likely to directly look for different options on e-learning platforms or apps rather than Google. Platforms like Domestika care about the protection of the content inside their platform and are already using brand protection software to track any anti-piracy activity.
Several companies developed Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions that help content creators to manage their intellectual property. DRM software defines or establishes and identifies rights holders and also tracks the usage. In other words, a DRV software will help you control and have visibility on who has access to your content and for how long. This comes especially handy for e-learning entities and includes encryption, passwords, and firewalls to only make that content accessible for specific users.
There is no better way to protect your online course than by adding your name, logo, or website URL as a watermark. While this is an easy way to claim your content it also adds a certain level of possession and implies others need to ask for your consent before using or sharing it. Even if bad actors decide to illegally share your content it’s still clear that you were the creator and you might even receive traffic from those activities. And remember, nobody can ever be you!
Apart from the proactive measures mentioned above, we cannot forget about monitoring where your content might already be used and how. This can be a very manual and time-consuming task while at the same time not very efficient. With the Internet moving at such a rapid speed, it’s impossible for individuals to keep up with this work manually on thousands of different websites. That’s why preventing piracy is key to increasing your content lifetime value and protecting your online course, across marketplaces, social media, rogue websites, or cyberlockers 24/7.
Whether you’re designing an online training or an e-learning course, meeting proactive measures to protect your intellectual property, course videos and content is key. With piracy so rapidly evolving it’s almost impossible to narrow it down to zero but by implementing an anti-piracy solution, it will help you safeguard your course content.
Even though there are many ways how your courses potentially could be copied this should not discourage you from creating more. This market is ever-evolving and creates many business opportunities and if every content creator was worried about their work being stolen, we wouldn’t see this fantastic growth of courses, videos, and e-learning. This is the price of a successful online business.