Due to recent events in my business, it’s time to bring up the topic of content protection. Unfortunately, there are people out there that think it’s OK to steal someone’s copy and try to pass it off as their own. I still can’t believe it, but it’s true. It’s unethical and illegal!
The only good thing is that they can’t possibly be successful for long (if at all). Why? Well, because they can’t keep up the act for long! Either they will be discovered or it will become obvious to anyone purchasing their stuff that it’s NOT theirs.
My Experience With A Copycat
In fact, this happened to me recently. Someone stole a bunch of my free content and tried to pass it off as their own including:
- Blog posts.
- Lead magnets.
- Email sequences.
The only thing they changed was the language. I was lucky enough to have a student alert me to what was happening. She stumbled across this person’s website, signed up for some of her stuff, and immediately realized what was up. She forwarded me an email that this particular person had sent to her and it was almost word for word the same as my welcome email (after I translated it).
First I Researched
Imagine my surprise! At this point, I started doing some digging and found my blog posts and lead magnets on her website. Now it’s fine to share other people’s work but you must give them credit for it. She did not.
The most disturbing part is that she purchased a program from me and then asked for a refund which I gave her. Something felt off to me but I ignored my instinct and moved on. During my digging, I found that she had launched a program for new Virtual Assistants not long after she took my course which made me wonder: Is she using my materials in this course?
I don’t have proof since I didn’t purchase her program but I wonder: If she would take my free stuff, why not my paid?
Then I Took Action
- I took screenshots of her website and sent them to my attorney.
- I contacted the copycat to tell her that she did not have my permission to use my copy in any way shape or form and that she was to take it down immediately. And, I mentioned she would hear from my attorney.
- Then I waited.
- Luckily, she removed it all before my attorney contacted her.
It Can Happen To Anybody
Now, keep in mind, this doesn’t just happen to people who sell courses. It happens to ANYONE who publishes content. Be it website copy, lead magnets, articles, blogs, emails, etc.
If you create it and publish it – it belongs to you. Now I’m not giving legal advice; I’m just sharing information and some helpful resources to help educate you just in case this happens to you or one of your clients based on my own experience.
I think the most important thing to do is document the evidence, then reach out like I did to let them know you’re aware of what’s going on and to take down all your content. Then, contact an attorney that specializes in copyrights.
Simple Content Protection Tips
They’ll help you to find out if you are being copied and be prepared.
#1 –Use A Tool
There are free and paid tools that will search the web for your content.
#2 – Check On A Regular Basis
I recommend doing a search at least twice a year if not once a quarter.
- Tip: This is a great value to add to any content-related packages you offer to clients. For example, if you write blogs, you may consider adding a “copy” search for clients to help them with their content protection.
#3 – Have An Attorney
My Copyright and Trademark Attorney is Diana Chubb.
It happens in every industry, not just ours. Some say that being copied is a rite of passage, showing that you’ve made it now that people are copying you. Maybe so but it’s not a good feeling to have someone steal your hard work and try to make money off of it!
Have you or any of your clients ever been copied? Please feel free to share your experience. All comments and questions are welcome.
Oh, and if you’re working on setting up other important systems and processes in your VA business, please have a look at my Ultimate VA Success Guide: How To Start A VA Business. It walks you through all the must-have systems any professional VA needs to have in place.
Thanks for reading – Susan
P.S. If you're ready to invest in yourself and a professional future, please check out my VA Success Training. It's for people that are serious about running a successful Online Business. It includes everything you need from business set-up, getting clients, client management, a WP website, coaching, a supportive community, and so much more.