Licensing is simply giving another person or business the right to use your property with certain conditions for a fee. In the online space, this is usually copyright-protected works (like photos, videos or an online course or membership) or trademarks (like a brand logo).
If you are a creator of content, learning about content will help you understand how to protect your content but also what rights to offer in order to scale and grow.
If you want to use other people's content or brand, learning about licensing will help you understand what to look for in a licensing relationship.
I get many questions about licensing from physical product creators as well (like crafters and makers) who want to give some limited rights to their creations to other people or businesses to use for a fee.
When you listen to your new favourite tune on Spotify or Apple Music, you are using the music pursuant to certain licensing terms. Same when you purchase a stock photo or make an image on Canva.
Podcasts continue to grow in popularity, including for business owners who are looking to generate new leads, establish their expertise and grow their community.
As with other aspects of business, there are some legal issues to be considered. Here are my top 5 legal tips:
#1 - The content of your podcast is protected by copyright law and owned by the host.
This copyright protection, which is worldwide, is automatic upon creation. The creator of the podcast (the host) has the exclusive right to use this content unless permission (i.e. a license) is given. You can assert your rights through a copyright notice - i.e. (c) Legal Essentials Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved. Advanced tip - if you have co-hosts for your podcast, you should agree on who owns what upfront (like a prenup) in case you decide to part ways.
#2 - If you have a separate podcast producer from the host, you should have a legal agreement with them.
This agreement should...
If you have built a new website or have done a refresh to your old website (to get rid of the website shame you were feeling), congratulations!
A lot of business owners that I talk to have either not focused on the legal requirements for their website or are relying on their web developers or web designers to have included what they need.
Don't Assume Your Web Person Has Got This Handled
In my experience, most web developers and web designers are focused on the user experience and design of your website, but not the legal stuff. They may pull a template from somewhere, but very few of them customize the website templates for Canadians and for your specific business needs.
So what to do? I’ve got you covered.
My online business mentor, Amy Porterfield, just released a podcast episode this week with US Attorney, Ashley Kirkwood, talking about protecting your online content. I highly recommend that you listen to that episode here.
As a reminder, copyright laws protect your content. Trademark laws protect your brand.
One of the recommendations, which I completely agree with, is to do a trademark search BEFORE you launch a new online course or digital product to make sure you are not infringing on anyone's trademarks.
I have already gotten questions from two business owners who listened to this episode about how to do a Trademark Search for Canada.
To do a trademark search, you will find the Canadian Trademarks Database on the Government of Canada website. The link is here.
If you click on "Additional Search Options" you can narrow your search in "Category" to Trademarks and under "Type" to Work Marks. This will help to give you more relevant search results.
Here are five things that you need to know about the legal stuff when you are using social media for your business:
1. You are a Tenant (not an Owner) when you use social media platforms. If you don't follow the rules, the Landlord might kick you out.
2. Make sure you have the right to share the content you are sharing. Don't take other's content without their permission or a license and get a release if you are creating content using other people's likeness.
3. Have a social media policy for your business. This will get everyone on the same page and protect against risks of privacy breaches, defamation or damage to your brand.
4. Copyright laws protect the original content that you create and publish. You can enforce your rights to it.
5. Know the CASL (anti-spam) rules for Canada. These rules cover all commercial electronic messages (i.e. DMs, texts) not just email. Know how you can add people to your email list within the rules.
I have been talking a lot recently about the importance of protecting your business online. An important piece of this is to understand how to use copyright and trademark laws to your benefit.
It is easy to get confused about the differences between copyright protection and trademarks.
The best way that I can boil it down is that Copyright protects your content. Trademarks protect your brand.
Copyright laws (in Canada and internationally through treaties) protect the original content that you create and publish. Online courses, blog posts, photos, podcasts, ebooks, songs can all be copyrighted works.
Copyright protection is automatic upon publication of an original work. Registration is possible (and easy!) but not required.
Using the © symbol along with a copyright notice is a good preventative measure. i.e. © Legal Essentials Inc. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Trademarks protect elements of your brand which can include business names, product names, slogans,...
When you are asking people to contribute to the creation of content of your business, you should get them to sign a release form .
This will give your business the right to use the content, including in its original form and repurposing the content.
You may be taking pictures or videos at events, recording a podcast or using client testimonials in your promotions.
Using content created by other people for commercial purposes without their written permission could involve risks for your business including damage to your reputation.
In this video, I am talking about how I use Affiliates to promote my digital programs.
As with any legal relationships, it is good to get all of the expectations in writing so that you are both on the same page.
This video gives you an overview of how your content is protected by copyright law and where to put your copyright notices.
For more information about copyright (as well as trademarks and trade secrets), you can check out this free download - Download Here.
And a reminder that this content is protected by copyright law :)
(c) Legal Essentials Inc. 2020. All Rights Reserved
This week’s video blog is on the topic of copyright and how to protect your business creations.
Click on the video link here to view.
You can find the website for the federal agency CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office) referred to in the blog can be found here.