Racheal: Hey! Welcome back to Yogipreneur Radio. I’m your host, Racheal Cook. I am joined with my dear friend and cohost, Francesca Cervero.
Francesca: Hi, everybody!
Racheal: Today, we have a great question from Sarah Fisher from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. We are going to dive into a topic that is near and dear to both Francesca and my heart. Especially right now at the stage we’re both in in our businesses. Here’s Sarah’s question:
“Hi Racheal, this is Sarah Fischer from Richmond, VA right down the street from you. I’m loving your podcst and you can find me at SarahFischer.net. My question is actually about the website. I’ve had an old website for a long time, and in the background right now I’m building a new website. On my new site I have beautiful pictures, I plan to blog, and I have lots of nice content that I plan to put out there. And my question is: what kind of statement should I have on my site to protect my content? That is…I’m all about sharing, and I’m happy to share information and pass information along, and I’m really wanting to share information on my site as well, but how do I protect my information from showing up on someone else’s site with someone else’s name on it? So what kind of things should I put on there to protect that? If you could answer that question for me I would be super grateful! Thank you thank you so much for this podcast, I’m grateful for every minute of it, and I hope to see you in person soon. Thanks!”
Racheal: Sarah, thank you so much for asking this question. It’s one that I hear quite often. I want to say that it is a very important question to ask yourself. There are some specific things you want to think about when it comes to your own content. But, there’s also a mindset side to this. We want to address both parts of it.
I want to start with the technical stuff first, just to get it out of the way.
Technically, the moment you publish anything, you are automatically protected by copyright. The moment that it’s posted on your website, it is protected by copyright. Which means, if anybody goes in there and, let’s say, copy and pastes your blog post or your headline or your social media posts, if that was your original content, you can send them a cease and desist letter and say, “Hello. That was my content. I’m protected by the Copyright Act. I need you to take this from your site.”
There’s actually another element to this that’s even strong called the DMCA — The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Where, basically, you don’t even have to the owner of said website who copied you. You can just send a specific form to their webhost and the webhost has to take it down because copyright is very serious. You are legally protected by this. You don’t have to do anything in order to have copyright protection.
Know that up front. Once you produce your content, you publish — it doesn’t matter what format it’s in; if it’s written, if it’s a photo, if it’s a video you create. All of that is yours and you exclusively own it and have rights to it.
Some things that you might want to do to enforce it or to just put people on notice about it is have the copyright on the bottom of your site. It says, “Copyright Sarah Fisher Yoga,” and whatever years you’re claiming copyright for for all your content.
Francesca: Is there anything she has to do besides that or she can just put copyright on her website and that —
Racheal: You can just put copyright on your website.
Francesca: Yeah. That’s what I thought.
Racheal: That at least puts people on notice. You can also say, “All rights reserved,” you can also have your terms and conditions clearly stating what you allow people to use your content for. Maybe if they’re wanting to quote you, you’re giving permission in your terms and conditions or whatever that might be.
In general, that’s the first thing. Just know that you’re protected the moment you publish it.
Francesca: Without doing anything else.
Racheal: Without doing anything, you’re protected.
Racheal: This is kind of like taking things to the next level. I think this is really important for people who are producing a lot of content — especially if you’re putting a lot of time, energy and maybe money into creating content, especially if you’re starting to do video content or photo content or anything like that. It’s taking the next step and hiring or talking to an intellectual property lawyer about how to officially file all your copyrights, which means you can file your entire blog, literally, to the government and say, “I want this officially on record that this is mine.”
You can also file copyright for… let’s say you have yoga class sequences that you share in your trainings. You can have all that copyrighted. If you have worksheets you’ve created or whatever it is. Anything that you’ve produced that’s yours and came from you, you can submit that to the copyright office to be officially filed.
That gives you an extra level of protection because if you ever had to… let’s say somebody took a teacher training manual of yours that they had learned from and then went off and basically put their logo on it and was trying to sell your teacher training or teach your teacher training without your permission, you now have evidence that you filed this and that it was yours. You have a timestamp on it that the government will recognize as official and it protects you a lot more.
That’s something especially for people who are, I would say, creating things like manuals that a lot of people have access to and that aren’t as easy to establish the publish date. In the yoga community, it seems to be teacher training manuals are very much the things that I see ripped off a lot.
Francesca: Well, they’re very valuable.
Racheal: They’re very valuable.
Francesca: Think how much time and energy you spend putting in to writing a teacher training manual. That would be a really bad thing to have somebody rip off.
Francesca: Trademark is another next level. I don’t know if you want to address that.
Racheal: Trademark is a whole other next level. I would say that trademark is a little bit different because this is source identifying types of things like your logo, your brand name, the name of your teacher training, the name of the style of yoga that you have. We all hear these different types of styles of yoga that keep popping up. Trust me, they are all trademarked. You can see the little ® symbol.
The Yogipreneur is trademarked. I got my registration certificate back about six months ago, so it’s officially trademarked.
Francesca: Yeah. The Science of the Private Lesson, my teacher training, is trademarked.
Racheal: If someone went out there and started to try to start anything with the name Yogipreneur on it, they are going to be getting a cease and desist letter from my lawyer. I’ve officially filed a trademark, so that means I own it and I can also ask for damages if anything happened. It doesn’t matter if they’re going to try to put it on a t-shirt or they’re going to try to create a workshop in their city. I can say, “No, that’s my exclusive name. It’s a source identifying piece of branded identity for my business.”
You can trademark your business name, you can trademark your tagline, and you can trademark product names. I would say anything that’s kind of like your catchphrases even. I’ve started doing this for some of mine in both of my businesses because there are things that I say over and over and over again. They’re not quite a tagline, but they’re headlines all over my website. Nothing is worse than getting on Instagram one day and finding a headline from one of your websites being used to promote someone else’s work — which both of us have experienced in some way, shape or form.
Racheal: I would say if there’s something that you use all the time, I would start creating what I like to call a language bank. This is your branded language bank, these are your source-identifying things. You use them over and over again. They’re all over your website, all over your programming. I would consider either trademarking them officially or you can even just use the ™ symbol which says you’re basically putting them on notice that this a trademarkable thing. You can’t claim an official trademark until you file it.
Same as the copyright. The moment that you put it on notice – you put the little ™ symbol, it’s putting people on notice and saying this is part of my source-identifying language and you cannot use this.
Again, you can go through the process of filing that — which is not inexpensive. It’s a lot cheaper to file your entire blog and your teacher training manual for copyright. That’s something like $45 per piece of content to submit and have it filed. In fact, we submit my entire blog every three months because that’s the time timeframe, just to keep that copyright up and active.
Filing for a trademark is a little bit different because it can get into thousands of dollars.
Francesca: Mine didn’t, though. It depends.
Racheal: It depends on how you’re filing it and how many classes you need to cover. Mine covers, I think, three or four different classes. I had to cover Coaching Consulting, I had to cover online training, and I had to cover a lot of different areas that Yogipreneur could be used. Basically, I didn’t want anyone else starting a yoga business platform using that.
Racheal: The more places you start to go out there and try to trademark for each of those categories, the more expensive it can get. I highly recommend, if you’re going that route, that you hire a lawyer who knows what they’re doing. Do not try to do it yourself because there’s actually a lot of back and forth and things that could slip through the cracks or go wrong. That’s definitely worth investing in if you have something you’re going to build your brand around. You want to make sure that you’re doing that.
Francesca: I also don’t think there’s any need to rush into that.
Francesca: I’ve been teaching The Science of the Private Lesson for three years. It was only when I was taking it online that I said, “I want to make sure that other people aren’t using this exact same name that I’ve been teaching under for a long time.” We just want you to have an idea of the next steps and the next levels to go to, but also I wouldn’t feel too worried or rushed about any of that.
Francesca: As Racheal said, as soon as you put something on your blog, that’s yours and other people can’t use it without your permission. This can be really simple if that’s where you are right now.
Racheal: It really can be.
Racheal: You taught that for a few years before you filed your trademark. I had The Yogipreneur for seven and a half years before I got my trademark approved. I just didn’t think it was a big enough deal to go after, and I knew because I had used the little ™ symbol saying “Intent to trademark,” I also had my business name as The Yogipreneur. I had things that proved the date of establishing the business.
Francesca: Totally. Yeah.
Racheal: …which helps quite a bit. So I wouldn’t stress about it too much.
Those are the technical things that I wanted to cover just to put your mind at ease. You actually have a lot more protection than you might think you do.
The other side of it is the mindset. Like we both alluded to already, both of us have been through finding pieces of our content on other websites or finding headlines that are very strongly tied to our work, phrases that are very strongly identified to our work, copy and pasted bits of sales pages or whatever it might be. I have to say, first, because Francesca and I have experienced both of us going through this over the last couple of years as we’ve been growing our online side of things, it sucks. It just hands down… it’s the worst.
Francesca: Yeah. It’s sad.
Racheal: It feels very vulnerable to have people lift parts of your work, things that you created and that you came up with, and see it on someone else’s site.
At the same time, if you let it really hit you hard and it becomes obsessive and you worry about it and then it keeps you from producing great work, then… we just don’t want you to go there.
Racheal: We don’t’ want you to not put great stuff out because, at the end of the day, I truly believe that innovators are always going to be copied. This is true. There’s actually a great series online called Remix where they talk about — you can see this in other industries like the music industry. That’s a really good example of where you’ll start to hear things from songs from like 30 years ago remixed into new stuff. All the time.
The thing that you want to keep in mind is when you get good, when you have a strong voice, people are going to want to imitate it, people are going to want to pull from it, they’re going to be inspired by it, they’re going to want to model it and you just have to know what really, really has to be protected and what you can just be like, “I’m glad I’m inspiring people,” and move on.
Francesca: And let it go.
Racheal: Keep innovating. Keep moving forward.
Francesca: Yeah. One thing I want to touch in on here is your question said, “How do I protect my information from showing up on someone else’s site with someone else’s name on it?” To have something directly copy, pasted and lifted like that is probably not super likely to happen. If it does happen, it’s pretty easy to deal with.
Francesca: You send a cease and desist or you email their webhost and they have to take it down. What’s more likely to happen, if you’re writing a lot from a really strong point of view and are having a lot of success, you’ll start to see phrases that you’ve been using and ideas you’ve been talking about in other people who maybe haven’t done the same kind of groundwork that you’ve done.
Francesca: That’s a little bit more of a grey area and a little bit more hard and frustrating to deal with.
Francesca: Especially if you feel like, “I’ve been doing this work six days a week…”
Racheal: “For 10 years!”
Francesca: “25 clients a week for 10 years,” and then to see someone else trying to offer the same thing with a lot less groundwork behind it and using your phrases, that could really be frustrating. It depends on how closely it’s copied what you are able to do about it, but if you have this idea that… if you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and you just stay really focused on what’s most important to you, you’ll continue to create really great content that people resonate with. People who are borrowing or copying or modeling or lifting from you are doing that because they don’t have their own super strong point of view.
Racheal: Usually, they’re doing it because they haven’t done the work. I would have to say another part of this is when you start studying the creative process and how people learn, — think about how you learn as a kid. You learn as a child by modeling and imitating other people. The saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery is pretty true. A lot of times, I truly believe it’s not… people don’t do it with bad intentions, they’re doing it because they’re like, “Yes, this is exactly it! You said it the best way possible. I couldn’t say it any better.”
They really are doing it from a place of they love what you’re doing. Often, people just aren’t aware. But, at some point, we all have to get beyond imitating what everybody else is doing and get our own point of view.
Where this comes out and where I see this transition happening for everybody is just when you start producing more content. I remember when we were going through the process with your website, there was a blog on it and you were not happy that there was going to be a blog.
Francesca: My web developer was like, “I’m putting a blog on your website.” I was like, “No, no, no. I don’t want to do that.” He was like, “Sorry. You have to be blogging.” Racheal was like, “Sorry. You have to be blogging.” I was like, “But I don’t want to blog!” and I complained about it.
Francesca: Yeah, I did.
Racheal: Which I’ll link up to.
At the end of the day, your viewpoint — and because I’ve worked with you for so long and I’ve known you for so long, your point of view has gotten so much stronger because you’re consistently producing great content, honing your ideas, getting stronger with the language that you’re using. That wouldn’t have happened if you were afraid to just put it out there.
Francesca: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, you figure out what’s important to you. One way to figure out what’s important to you is by writing about it. It’s made my point of view more clear, it’s made me able to speak much more articulately about what I do and why. I absolutely love it now. It’s been really, really fun and it’s been really, really good for me.
I would just say don’t be worried. Don’t hold yourself back.
Francesca: Do what’s important to you with clarity and with intention. The people who are meant to be your students and your followers will be. I wouldn’t worry about it otherwise.
Racheal: Exactly. Don’t stress it too much. Just start creating. Perfect.