Intellectual Property for Content Marketers

The world of knowledge has changed dramatically over the past 15 years.

Information is more widely available than ever.

Knowledge that was once locked away in libraries is now readily available and at our fingertips via the internet.


Many argue that this “democratization” of knowledge is an infringement on the original author’s rights.

Most see the benefits of this level of knowledge sharing and understand the ability to produce new works or new discoveries via “iterative” learning is worth far more than the potential costs.

Content marketers, bloggers, and before bloggers, writers, novelists and journalists are a key part of sharing knowledge that advances us as individuals and as a society.

The internet make this knowledge sharing process incredibly efficient and poses two potential problems for the content marketer. First, people can steal your stuff really quickly. Second, you’ve got to be careful about what you share and how you share it to avoid infringing on others rights.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to protect your intellectual property. We’ll cover how to respect the intellectual property rights of others in our next post.

Here is how to protect your rights in  4 easy steps:

  1. Know Your Rights – Any original work that you post on your website or on the websites of others is your intellectual property. No one else can reproduce that work without your permission.
    One trick – ideas are not protected. Only the expression of that idea. If you are writing a novel or other work of fiction, someone using your characters or directly stealing the theme of your work would be grounds for a pretty good lawsuit.In the non-fiction world protecting your rights is a little more difficult. If you write a blog or a book on the “10 Rules Every Leader Must Follow”, someone could pretty easily use several of the ideas in your work with copying the expression of your idea. If someone just changes the wording and reposts the “10 Rules”, you’ve probably got pretty good grounds to sue.
  2. State Your Rights – Put an official copyright notice on all of your work, even though placing a copyright symbol on your work is not required to protect it. Whenever you create a work, whether it is a blog post or photo, that creation is automatically “copyrighted.”The U.S. Copyright office states that your work receives copyright protection “the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”Since most Americans don’t know this fact it is helpful to remind them by stamping your work with a copyright notice. I use the following at the bottom of every page on my website.mine
  3. Post a Permissions Policy – Let’s be honest. You want others to read your work and share it. If we didn’t, why the heck would be putting these social media sharing buttons all over our websites?
    We post because we want to create value. That value creation does not occur if no one reads my work.So… make it easy for others to share what you do and feel safe doing so (just in case they have read a little about intellectual property laws). A Permissions Page will do just that. On this page let your visitors know what they can do with your work without even asking and what they’ll need to ask permission for.
  4. Lighten Up! – Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Enjoy the fact that someone thought enough of your work to share it.
    If someone has crossed the line let them know and point them back to your Permissions Page. 99% will happily comply. If they don’t you can always have your attorney write them a quick letter. That will usually take care of the other 1%.Be very careful if you are considering taking legal action against someone who has misappropriated your work. Copyright law is messy and the attorneys that are good at do not come cheap. Is it really worth the pain and distraction?

    Do not go hastily to court;
    For what will you do in the end,
    When your neighbor has put you to shame?

    -Proverbs 25:8

What about you? Has someone taken your work without permission? How did you handle it?

Thank you for being a part of our values driven community!

Image courtesy of Mike Seyfang via CC.