Today we get to talk all about copyright infringement — What can you do when you find a content thief, and can you get paid for damages?
“I’ve heard people say that in the case of copyright infringement that in addition to asking the
person to cease and desist, you can also request a certain amount of money for damages in
order to prevent further legal action. I’ve also heard this varies state to state. I have no clue
where to start looking for more information on this. Would you be able to advise? Thank you!”
In this episode, you’ll hear…
- What happens when someone steals your content
- Why you need to register your content to copyright it
- How to take action and protect your content
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What Can You Do If Someone Steals Your Content?
Well, that depends on the circumstances.
If someone steals your free PDF and they just represent it as their own, don’t have it lead to a
product, and never make any money off the PDF itself – probably not.
If you have registered that content with the US Copyright Office though, you’d be entitled to what
we call “statutory damages.” That’s just a fancy word for: you get this money automatically if
someone steals your stuff.
But if someone stole your paid course and then sold it as their own, yes you could go after the
damages owed to you for any money they made off the sale of your intellectual property (your
course) AND the statutory damages, as well (again – if your course was registered).
The Importance of Registering Your Paid Products with the US
So, for example, if someone stole my legal templates and then sold them as their own – I could
go after them not only for statutory damages, but I could also go after every nickel they made
selling my templates as their own. I see you, copycats 😉
It’s another reason why I’m such a big fan of registering your paid products, content, work, etc
(with the US Copyright Office). You want to put yourself in a position to collect both statutory and
compensation damages for the sale of your goods as their own.
The trickier issue here would be whether you’ve taken the steps necessary to actually protect
your content so you could do something about it if/when someone stole it and profited from it. I’ve
got something major coming for you in the fall for this.
This was part 2 of 2 on this topic. Part 1 answered questions about what can (and can’t) be
copyrighted. If you missed it, head back to Episode 109 to get the full convo.
Sam Vander Wielen: Hey. Hey. It’s Sam Vander Wielen. I’m here back with another episode of On Your Terms, where, every Thursday, I tackle your essential legal questions about starting and growing a legally protected online business in ten minutes or less.
This week, we’re talking all about copyright infringement – how exciting. Okay. So, Julia asked, “I’ve heard people say that in the case of copyright infringement, that in addition to asking the person to cease and desist, you can also request a certain amount of money for damages in order to prevent further legal action. I’ve also heard that this varies state to state. I have no clue where to start. Looking for more information on this. Would you be able to advise? Thank you.” Okay, Julia, this was a great question.
So, yes, that is true, depending on the circumstances. If someone steals your free PDF, for example, and they just represent it as their own, they don’t have it lead to a product, and they never really make any money off of the PDF itself or what it ends up leading to, you might not be able to get any money from that.
If you have registered that content, though, with the U.S. Copyright Office, you would probably be entitled to what we call statutory damages. So, that’s just a fancy word for, like, you get this money automatically if somebody steals your stuff if it’s registered. So, registration brings with it some guaranteed damages, which is nice.
If somebody stole your paid course, on the other hand, and then sold it as their own or you’re paid product of some sort, yes, you could go after the damages owed to you for any money that they made off of the sale of your intellectual property, in this case, your course. And you would also get those statutory damages that we were talking about as well. Again, only if your course was actually registered, if the content within your course was registered.
So, for example, if somebody stole my legal templates and then they sold them as their own, I could go after them, not only for statutory damages, but I could also go after every single nickel that they made selling my legal templates as their own. I see you, copycats, you can just exit out of this episode now. Okay.
So, it’s another reason why I’m such a big fan of registering the content of your paid products, your bigger pieces of content itself, your work with clients, whatever, with the U.S. Copyright Office because you want to put yourself in a position to collect both statutory and compensation damages for the sale of your goods as that person’s own. The trickier issue here would be whether you’ve taken the steps necessary to actually protect your content so you could do something about it if and when somebody steals it and profits off of it.
So, if that’s something that you want to learn more about, how to actually register your content, how to decide which pieces of content you should register, and then how to go after people once you see them steal it, you definitely want to get registered for my live training that I have coming up on April 25th called What to Do If Copycats Steal Your Content. I’ll drop a link in the show notes for the waitlist, because registration opens up on April 17th. You’re only going to have a couple of days to register. Spots are limited. I hope to see you there.
I hope that this was helpful and I can’t wait to chat with you next week.
Thanks so much for listening to the On Your Terms Podcast. Make sure to follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. You can also check out all of our podcast episodes, show notes, links, and more at samvanderwielen.com/podcast. You can learn more about legally protecting your business and take my free legal workshop, Five Steps to Legally Protect and Grow Your Online Business, at samvanderwielen.com. And to stay connected and follow along, follow me on Instagram, @samvanderwielen, and send me a DM to say hi.
Just remember that although I am a attorney, I am not your attorney and I am not offering you legal advice in today’s episode. This episode and all of my episodes are informational and educational only. It is not a substitute for seeking out your own advice from your own lawyer. And please keep in mind that I can’t offer you legal advice. I don’t ever offer any legal services. But I think I offer some pretty good information.
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Resources Discussed in This Episode
- Copycats Training Sign Up: Save $25 off with code Copycat25 before April 21st!
- Episode 109. All Your Trademark Questions: Answered
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