August 2, 2023
Pop Quiz: Which type of lawsuit is easier to file?
- Breach of Contract
Ok, I didn’t actually expect you to know that it’s easier to file a breach of contract lawsuit than a copyright lawsuit. Hopefully, you’ve never had to do either.
But now that you have that fun little fact to throw out at your next happy hour (we all talk about intellectual property in our free time, right? RIGHT?!) let’s chat about what it means and why it matters to you as a business owner.
In the United States, our copyright laws are kind of…backwards. Shocking, I know.
Common sense tells us that anything produced for or by your business is property of…your business. But in reality, when you hire an independent contractor – someone who’s not a W2 employee on your payroll – they legally own anything they create on your behalf. I know, I audibly gasped when I first learned this too.
Now take a deep breath. Before your mind starts spinning about WHO is doing WHAT with your intellectual property, rest assured that you can change this and maintain ownership – even when working with contractors – with a written contract that clearly outlines who owns what and how it can be used.
Not a handshake. Not an email. Not a wink and a nudge.
A signed contract.
And this doesn’t just go for contractors. You can use contracts to protect your IP from clients with access to your digital products who may be tempted to repackage your work as their own.
And with your new fun fact in tow, you know it’s easier to pursue a breach of contract than a copyright infringement.
I’m not saying copyrights aren’t important in protecting your IP. You’ll *never* catch me telling you they’re not. But if you’ve been operating in the online business world for any period of time, you know that stealing content is super common, *in spite* of copyrights. So why not add in extra IP protection with a contract that clearly states that your work is YOURS.
I’m also not advocating for paranoia to become one of your core business values. I don’t believe anyone is out to get you, or that everyone you hire has an ulterior motive to steal from you. In fact, operating under those assumptions is a sure-fire way to repel high-quality contractors and clients. Most of the time, IP breaches are honest mistakes by well-intentioned folks. But there’s absolutely no harm in proactively putting extra protections in place to avoid a lot of headache, and heartache, down the line.
My blunt advice? Protect your shit to the extent that you can, and then welcome your people – whether its contractors or clients – with open arms and without fear.
And that’s exactly what we’re diving into on the Podcast this week. I welcomed Autumn Witt Boyd to The Up & Up for a fresh perspective on running a business on solid legal ground.
Autumn is an experienced and relatable lawyer who helps million dollar coaches and online educators reach their big goals while protecting their creative genius. Autumn and her team at the AWB Firm offer full legal support to digital creators, bringing their specialized expertise in the legal world of online businesses. She is passionate about helping creatives get paid for what is rightfully theirs.
We chatted about the nitty-gritty of the legal world and people management, covering topics like:
⚖️ How to put legitimacy behind your projects
⚖️ Avoiding “Toxic Flexibility” and creating healthy boundaries for the first time
⚖️ How to find the best attorney for your niche
⚖️ Protecting intellectual property from employees and contractors
⚖️ Creating the work environment you always wished you had, while protecting your productivity and profit
⚖️ Using NDAs to protect trade secrets (and what “trade secrets” even are)
⚖️ How to register a trademark
This episode is jam-packed with expert advice and practical tips to help you navigate the murky waters of the legal world for your business. Autumn’s friendly and accessible approach to law is a breath of fresh air, and will leave you feeling empowered to take the necessary steps to protect what’s yours.
So grab your headphones and join us on The Up & Up as we explore the ins-and-outs of legally safeguarding your creative genius.
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