Here’s how it goes:
You create the most amazing online course “30 Days to X” - it includes 30 downloadable PDFs, 1 each day. You are selling it on your website and rocking it (of course!) - then about 6 months later, your friend that helped edit your PDFs comes and says, “Hey - I just bought this course called “1 Month to X” and it is EXACTLY your course! They ripped you off and are selling it for $50 more!”
So, we all know the web is rampant with people stealing other people’s stuff - either intentionally OR unintentionally. Whether it’s downloading a course and rebranding it to sell like above or accidentally using a photo without permission, or cutting and pasting someone else’s copy or blog post - IT HAPPENS.
Because not everyone is as awesome/nice/smart as you are.
So what is copyright infringement? Basically it is use of ‘works’ protected by copyright law without permission.
What can you do? Of course, like MOST of the law - it depends. It depends on who is using it, how, and where. If someone took your ebook and is reselling it - the quickest and easiest option is to send a cease and desist letter and see if they listen. If that doesn’t work, you can contact the platform or web host that is allowing it.
There are various laws in place to protect the owner and a big one that has protected people in the online space is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that was passed back in 1998. DMCA is all about the ‘notice and takedown’ and goes a long way to protecting content creators and intermediary platforms on the web - like YouTube or Pinterest.
If someone takes your video/writing/other content and puts it on another platform without your permission, you let the platform know through a ‘copyright infringement notification’ (aka ‘takedown’ notice) and they have to - you guessed it: take it down.
And a big part of what DMCA does is protect the platform by saying that they don’t have legal liability for hosting infringed work as long as they comply with the Act (which includes things like notifying the alleged infringer of the complaint that was filed). BUT this area of law is still developing and things are changing all the time.
NOTE: if you’ve registered your copyright with the government, you can bring a claim in court and be AUTOMATICALLY entitled to statutory damages (aka - straight up money) up to $30K if you meet the criteria. Another reason to go ahead and spend that $35 to copyright your stuff!
While I *hope* this doesn't happen to you - now you are armed with a few steps to take and resolve it quickly!