As an online business owner, there is a good chance that at some point you will be developing a group program or online course. Whether you are a health coach that will help people eat cleaner or an online marketer teaching people how to run a webinar, there are certain ways to legally protect your content, course, and your business.
I held a webinar yesterday on this exact topic and thought I would pass along some tips to help you learn how to protect your group program or online course.
Tip 1: Use Terms of Purchase
Terms of Purchase (also called Terms and Conditions or Terms of Agreement) are a legally binding document that exists to lay out expectations of your product or program, decrease your liability, and protect your business interests.
They are similar to a 1:1 contract but worded slightly differently so that they can be used for a multiple people and agreed to online. You have definitely agreed to these in the past and they are usually found at the point of purchase with a check box or language like: “By purchasing now you are agreeing to these Terms of Purchase” - and then a link to the document.
Terms include things like the terms (shocker!) of your product or program (how many modules, how long is the program, etc.), your pricing and refund policy, disclaimers for you (SUPER important), protection for your intellectual property, and more.
This is the MOST important document you can have to protect your online course or group program.
Do you need one? You can grab a template HERE that I drafted especially for online group programs and courses. This has all the clauses noted above to protect you.
Tip 2: Register the Copyright for your Course or Program
While you may know that copyright is automatic, registering your copyright with the US Government (or wherever you are) adds an extra layer of protection that can provide peace of mind PLUS (in the US) the ability to bring a lawsuit against anyone that is stealing your stuff. This may give you the right to some pretty sweet compensation (anywhere from $750-30K!)
Registration is pretty straightforward and can be done for $35 at the US Copyright office. Simply send in all your modules (PDFs, workbooks, etc) in one bundle and you are all set.
Tip 3: Be Careful with Names!
I have seen this enough times to have it break my heart a little each time. It goes like this: you fall in love with an amazing name for your course or program and don’t realize that someone in your industry is already using it and has probably registered the trademark.
This leaves you SOL with a lot of marketing materials you can’t use.
BEFORE you get set on a name, google it!! Check on various social media channels. Do a bit of due diligence. You can also search it at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Trust me, save yourself some heartache on this one!