3 Ways to Legally Protect Your Online Course

Congrats to you! Jumping on the course creator bandwagon is a great move. As you likely know by this point, selling ONE to MANY is great for the bottom line plus you get to create a product once and then sell it over and over again and perhaps even move it evergreen.  

Online learning isn’t going anywhere, in fact, we are jumping on the bandwagon and launching OUR course again soon (Stay tuned for that!) 

Creating and launching an online course can be exciting and add another revenue stream to your business.  However, amid the excitement of sharing your kickass knowledge with the world, it's crucial to prioritize legal protection to safeguard your sales and your intellectual property. 


So, let’s dive in shall we? Here are 3 ways to legally protect your online course!


Oh here she goes again! Yes, yes yes. Contracts! Terms of Purchase for an Online Course aka your legal contract with your customers, are the terms of use for your online course. These Terms are super important and EVERY course should have them (at checkout, where customers must check a box to agree to them!) So what goes in ‘em?  

  • Access and Usage: Clearly outline the terms under which users can access and use your course materials. Specify whether users are allowed to share, distribute, or modify the content.
  • Refund and Cancellation Policies: Clearly state your refund and cancellation policies to manage student expectations and prevent potential disputes or chargebacks.
  • Intellectual Property Rights: Specify that all course content is protected by copyright and other relevant intellectual property laws. Define what actions constitute infringement and the potential consequences if someone tries to steal your course.
  • Prohibited Activities: Remind your people that certain activities are strictly prohibited, such as unauthorized sharing of login credentials, reverse engineering of content, or any form of plagiarism.
  • Disclaimers: reminding your students that all of this is just information and education and NOT professional advice. 

Copyright protection is a great step you can take to safeguard your online course content. As soon as you create original content, such as videos, text, graphics, and audio recordings, it is automatically protected by copyright law. BUT (and it’s a big BUT), registering your copyright with the relevant authorities provides you with stronger legal grounds to defend your content in case of someone stealing it.

You don’t need to copyright every digital product or course you create, but if you do have a “signature course” it’s not a bad idea.  When copyrighting your course, take a few steps:

  • Register your course content with the copyright office (in the U.S. that is copyright.gov). While copyright protection exists from the moment of creation, registration strengthens your ability to enforce your rights and seek damages in case of infringement.
  • Notice: Include a copyright notice on your course materials, indicating your ownership and the year of creation. This can act as a deterrent to potential infringers. 


The name of your online course is a valuable asset that can become synonymous with your brand.  Think Marie Forleo’s B-School®, Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy®, or Destination Legal’s The Legit Coach®. 

We have so many clients that trademark their online course name because not only does it prevent others from using a similar name for a similar offering and therefore protecting your brand's identity, but it also becomes a business asset that you could later sell.  

Before you name your course you should do your own due diligence and do a trademark search and make sure the name you want to trademark is not already in use. This helps you avoid potential legal conflicts down the line.

Once your course name is trademarked and you OWN it, use the ® symbol as appropriate to indicate your ownership. This alerts others that your course name is protected and reinforces your brand's credibility! Win-win. 

There you have it. Launching an online course is an awesome step to take but it's essential to take proactive steps to legally protect your course content, your course name, and your sales!

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