How to protect your content from copycats
Episode 14026th April 2022 • Courageous Content with Janet Murray • Janet Murray
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Having your content copied or stolen is an upsetting – but inevitable – downside of being a content creator.

Sadly people don’t always realise what they’re doing is wrong. 

But what’s the difference between someone being inspired by your work and copying it? What should you do if you believe someone has copied your work? And how can you protect your content from theft?

That’s exactly what you’ll find in this episode of the Courageous Content Podcast - specially created for Intellectual Property Day where I revisit an interview with UK lawyer Egbe Manton. 

 

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Transcripts

IMPORTANT: THIS TRANSCRIPT IS AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED. WE GIVE IT A QUICK CHECK THROUGH BUT WE DON’T CORRECT EVERYTHING AS IT’S INTENDED TO HELP YOU FIND PARTS YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO AGAIN - NOT AS AN EXACT TRANSCRIPT. SO THERE MIGHT BE A FEW QUIRKY WORDS/PHRASES HERE!

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Having your content copied or stolen is an upsetting, but inevitable part of being a content creator. And thirdly, people don't always realize what they're doing is wrong. I'm Janet Murray, a content and online business strategist. And I've had my content. Copycatted dozens of times over the years, all it certainly, it feels that way, but what's the difference between someone being inspired by your work and copying it?

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What should you do if you believe someone has copied your work and how can you protect your content from theft? That's exactly what you'll find out in this episode of the courageous content podcast, especially created for intellectual property day. You're listening to the courageous content podcast. I'm Janet Murray, and I love helping poachers creatives and entrepreneurs create super engaging content that generates leads and sales for their businesses.

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No one starts a business and just knows how to create engaging. Content is a skill that has to be learned from practice. And there's always something new to learn, no matter how long you've been in business. And I know running an online business can feel messy, perfectionism, fear self-doubt and other mindset stuff can stop. You're showing up online in the way that's best for you.

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So you'll get help with that too. Where did you get courageous with your content? Let's get started This episode, revisits an interview with UK lawyer ache bait Manson. I started by asking ed bay, what kind of content people steal, And if nothing else, I think the pandemic has taught me that people will literally copy anything. So branding colors, business names,

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for example, a course content. And that is probably one of the biggest for people, because if someone copies your content and starts pushing it out as their own, you're effectively losing business, right? So course content, illustrations, songs, anything you could probably think of is being copied. Well, it's the difference between copying and being inspired. So I'm just thinking of one of many examples in my own business.

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I say many, unfortunately, where somebody took a seven day challenge that I created and pretty much ripped it off and tried to pass it off as their own set. I took the structure as a challenge. So exactly the same tasks, exactly the same content of emails, just tweak slightly over a seven day period. Would that kind of thing be classed as copying?

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It's a hard one. If it's like word for word that I think you'll probably on safer grounds. Cause you could clearly see, for example that when you've created your content, maybe 3, 4, 5, 6 months ago, that this is the process that you undertook and you would have drafts and you'd have everything to back that up. If they've taken your content and then slightly reworded it,

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maybe added a bit of their own kind of personality is more difficult, more difficult to say you've copied that because it's not word for word. It's not an identical thing. It's about visual branding. Say for example, I sell a content planner. I've had people create very similar products, similar cover designs, similar interiors, where do you draw the line on copying and being inspired with that kind of product?

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If you did a, a diary of a color palette of like yellow, green, and blue, right there is going to be somewhere else in the world. Somebody who might do a similar thing, right? As long as it's developed independently, you, that these things will happen. And I think it's one of those things that you can say, well,

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it's similar, but she didn't do it on purpose. She's DGR. It's completely different audience. Fine. However, if somebody, for example, was in your circle or maybe your bed Bishop, and they have created something similar to you, I think that'd be more of a grounds for you to say, well, actually this looks and feels similar to what I'm doing in those corners that you're providing.

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And in the diary, the way that you set out the diary, the way that it looks, you have some what we would call I've registered IP rights in that look and feel you've created it. You've put it out there. Therefore you have some element of ownership of that. Could you go after somebody else you could try, but whether or not you'd be successful,

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whether or not it would be worth it is another story. What about paid content? So for example, I got onto Facebook one day and just by chance really found myself, watching a Facebook live and thought, Ooh, this content seems very familiar. And it was because the person was teaching the content from one of my paid programs, pretty much word for word.

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They taken some of my templates and checklists and pretty much we branded them in their own branding. And the interesting thing was is that they were crediting me and they were saying, well, I learned this from Janet Murray, I'm in her program. It's brilliant. This is Janet mommy's work. The individual involved thought it was okay because they were crediting me, but my clients had paid for back on 10.

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It wasn't content that was publicly available. Where do you stand with something like that? First of all, I'm sorry that you've had to go insane. Well, I would say is, is the first thing to do is let's start from the preemptive perspective. So if you've got like a video or like a course that you've put together for your community or membership,

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then let's start with the key essentials, have something within your T's. And C's that says that the copyright within these materials, that these people are not allowed to distribute it or reproduce it so on and so forth. So make sure you're baptized with that perspective also where they're siting, where they're going through the process of paying for that particular course or whatever it might be ensure that they're consenting and making it clear that they've read those T's and C's,

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or they understand the they've could sense the fact that they're going to abide by those T's. And C's really important. The second thing I would say is all across your material, it's always helpful to make it clear the material itself, what each page that this is subject to copyright. The people use the C kind of symbol to ensure that people are made aware of this.

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When people go through the course, however, there will always be people that will want to copy your, because I'm sure it's very, very good, right? And if that's the case, there is a bit of a gray area. It here, if it's identical to what you have produced, and you can show, for example, that that person was in your community,

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there was some sort of relationship there not relationship, but you don't be like that sort of business relationship there. They use that cause it, all of a sudden they've come out with the same content that you have. Then you can approach them and say, this is my material here on my drafts. You can see that this is what I owed. Therefore I'm enforcing the fact that I have copied by on this.

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And I would like you to take down that particular material or take it out or acknowledge me or credit me, or pay me a third about for that material, whatever that might look like. Some individuals will not respond to that. They will just keep doing what they want to do. And in those circumstances, that's when you've got to start thinking about right,

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do I need the services of an IP attorney or solicitor that can help me through this process? I think when you've got somebody who's quiet, who either won't listen or continues to do things, knowing that they have done what they've done, then sometimes you do need that legal help. So I'm guessing the answer is to think of what could go wrong before you put your content out there.

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I mean, well, I would say is there's only so much you could do so protect yourself the best way that you can. And then at least, you know, you've done as much as you can. So what is that? So that's for example, thinking about, do I need to trademark my business name logo? Do I need to make sure I make it clear in my copy that I've got copyright?

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Any documentation that I produce or give out to my community? Is it that I need to beef up my T's and C's or the IP section in my T's and C's to make it clear that if you go through this course or you come into the community, you are going to be subject to these rules. And if you don't stick by these rules, that there is a chance that I will go after you for that,

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for that copy or whatever. So if you create a piece of content, does that mean you automatically hold the copyright? Yeah, usually it's it's rest with the creator. So if I, for example, I'll do a doodle, a piece of paper I've created that, right? But say, for example, you said that we worked with a designer that designer would initially hold the IP rights in your design.

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But then say for example, once you've paid, it might say in her contract that once you've paid, all of that kind of IP ownership will transfer over to you on paper. And that's absolutely fine. But what I think people get caught out by is either they don't check that. So the designer always holds the IP or number two, they buy it from somebody else or they bring like a,

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a friend to come and do a piece of work. And that friend will always hold the IP rights until it's transferred over by the consent of that person who's created it. So I think what you're saying is that if you hire someone to create content in your behalf, say for example, a social media manager or a copywriter, you need to get an agreement in place.

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Say that copyright positivity you once they've created that content, otherwise they could take that content and use it for other clients they're working with. So if you've got a designer out there who's helping with maybe your logo or some color palettes, whatever it might be, it would rest with them. So if you wanted to get, or have that ownership transferred from them to you,

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then that's where you'd start looking at your agreement that you have with a designer in place. Does it transfer once you've paid or is it that that designer always keep the ownership they produce for you? It just provides a bit of clarity for both parties. And it just means that later on, say for example, your business goes through the roof and you decided that you were to sell it.

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For example, then you owed all of the look and the feel of the content behind your business, which is really, really important. What about photos? So I think one challenge we have as entrepreneurs is we often need to adapt photos. So for example, whenever I do a publicity shoot, we always do a number of photos where I'm pointing up and down or left or right.

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The thinking being that we may well need to add in some content about an upcoming product or service, or maybe even a picture of that product or service in the parlance. We sometimes had photographers who have been a bit unhappy about that and saying, well, if I do your photos for you, you can't change them, which just isn't practical. So I think there's two things here.

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One I would say is when you're going out for brand photos, the IP or the right today, so chose will rest with the photographer because they're creating the photo and I've taken that photo. What photographers tend to do is in the agreements, they'll say happy for you to use the images, happy speech to you, what you want, if the images,

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however, I always keep the ownership of that and I've licensing it out to you, right? The issue with that is you never completely out of your photos. Yes. They've given you the ability to be able to embed them, but the ownership always rest with the photographer. They know that that's a good, that's an important thing because if you want the ownership,

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so they will ask for a supplement on top of that. So just be mindful that number two, when you're using photos, photographers, I've noticed, did they agree with that? A lot of people don't read this will only allow you to use it in certain contexts. And you've got to give credit to that photographer every time you use that photo it's,

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even if you put it in a brochure for a client or a pitch, you've always got to credit that photographer. So I just think it's important when you're looking at your photography agreement. If you're a photographer, just make sure that you're both on the same page, because you want to be able to use those photos without too much constraint or restraint on what you're doing.

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It sounds elementary, but I think the first thing is please have some type of agreement to place because I can't tell you about people that don't have anything in place. You know, it's a friend of a friend or you know them for a community and your best friends and you think, oh, let's do a shoot together. I think there has to be something in place because otherwise it,

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that it becomes ambiguous as to who owns what, usually with photographs, the photographer as the creator will, will hold that ownership over those photographs. What I would say is if you want to be able to put those photographs in pitches or documents or your blog or your website, or just use it freely across social media, then look for that and have those discussions with your photographer.

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Look at the agreement. Does it allow you to do that? Also more importantly, I think is, does it allow you to do that? First of all, but second of all, do you own those photographs? Once that session is finished and you've paid because a lot of photographers will give you a license to be able to use those images in a certain way,

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but they won't give you complete ownership. So just look for the outfit in your agreements, to what's the difference between the two what's wrong, a bit licensing, as opposed to you owning it. When you, when it's licensed out, sometimes that can be subject to certain conditions. Sometimes you have to pay a fee for that license. Sometimes does your restriction as to when and where and how long you can use those images to be mindful of that.

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Whereas when you take ownership of the photographs, it's completely yours. So it's up to you. Whether you want to put it on a billboard or you want to put it on the back of your house, it's up to you, how you use those images. Okay. And presumably if they retain copyright and they could potentially put those pictures anywhere, I mean,

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is that you could be working along and see your picture on a billboard, or For sure. I mean, obviously there's some data protection issues around that. If they wanted to use your image as part of something of their own portfolio, for example, or they wanted to put it online on their website, for example, they could very much well do that because they own.

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So in an ideal world, you'd have terms and conditions and agreements in place with all of your contractors. But what should you do if you fail, someone has stolen your content. I mean, I found people are genuinely quite reasonable if you out what you've noticed and they normally go, oh, sorry. I mean, even though I'm a lawyer, I think I would love it.

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If people just came together and used a bit of common sense such as to what fair point I didn't mean to that's my fault. Let me take that down. You should only really have to go down the whole legal route if things are really bad cause it's fees and right. And we're all small business owners here. We don't have an endless budget here.

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Right? So reaching out to somebody, just say, look, you probably have didn't realize, but actually this is quite close to what I've been doing. Or this is material that I've put together from such and such. Do you mind doing the following? I think there's nothing wrong with reaching out. At least if you go to them, go down the legal route,

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you can sit there and say, well, I did reach out to them. I was amicable. I, you know, I told them what happened. I didn't want to go down this route, but we've ended up here. Does that make sense? So I just think sometimes reaching out first can also be just a way to nip it in the bud.

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Definitely. And I do also think there can be genuine mistakes. So for example, I have an event that I run every year and I noticed one year that somebody was running an event with exactly the same name. And in the first instance, I just reached out and said, I've noticed that you're running in a bank with the same name. And actually as I've sold all the tickets for mine,

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and you've only just put yours on sale, it's actually not a good idea for you because if anyone Googles the name of your they're going to get all of my stuff and actually it's probably not good for you. And they said, oh God, I'm so sorry. I genuinely didn't. Didn't realize and sorted out. And on the other side of the coin,

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somebody reached out to me and said, you've called one of your master class is the same as one of my courses. And I thought, actually, I hadn't intended to do it, but maybe by osmosis, somehow I just kind of absorbed it. And when it came into my head, that sounds like a lovely name, but I immediately went back and said,

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you know what? I'm so sorry, what do you want me to do? Like, do you want me to change the name of mind, whatever it is that you want me to do, he was like, that's fine. As long as you're not running it again. And we resolved it really quite amicably, but I've found that when I've reached out to people about copying things,

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they've not always been quite so. Oh, for sure. For sure. And I think you have to remember, all of us are in the same circles, right? So we see the same sort of content we go to the same sort of master class. It's bound to happen that at some point you've got to produce maybe something similar. If someone does reach out to you and say,

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well, actually look, I've had this for a long period of time. These are my colors, or this is my content or whatever it might be, then just be humble, just be humble about it. Right. It's understandable when it's, it's something that happens. And I'm sure there's a way that it can be resolved amicably. But unfortunately, like we said,

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there will be people that won't want to go down that route. And in those circumstances, unfortunately, sometimes you do have to pay hardball, get slightly more heavy with them. And in a way saying to them that, you know, I've reached out to you a couple of times you haven't responded. If you don't respond by a certain date, this will happen or I will seek legal guidance or advice or whatever that might look like.

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And I hope that we don't have to go to those sorts of situations. But knowing that you have that in your armory, sometimes I think also helps. Yeah. And would the next step generally be something like a cease and desist letter if you have? Yeah, that would be, yeah, because then you're putting the word officially on notice that this is that we're breach and this is what you're going to be doing.

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If they don't stop doing what they're doing, What about content curation? For example, we share a quote that you've found on Twitter or Instagram, or even a client testimonial. Maybe somebody said something nice about you in a Facebook group or made a nice comment on Instagram. Is it okay to share that stuff? It depends on their rules. So I'm not close to that detail.

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So it's a bit of a gray area on that one. It depends on their rules, but I think if somebody has already put it on Twitter, so it's already freely available, you screenshotting it, putting it on Twitter or IgE accrediting, that person I think is on the lower end of, of a risky strategy. I would say my personal view is that if it's already out there and you're crediting that person,

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then if they didn't want it to be shared, why is it on Twitter? I think if the material is freely available, I'd say they could get to get it from somebody else's account or whatever it might be that there's nothing wrong with sharing material because it's already in the public space and

sparks fair anyway. But if you do need to credit that individual,

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if you're not sure at least credit that individual, right. That's the first thing I would say, if, for example, it's something of a personal nature or you think it's something that's not quite in the public arena that I would get that consent to share that story or created image or whatever it might be in the public sphere on your account. Right?

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So if, if at any point you're not sure get consent. So just to be on the safe side, we should also ask for permission to share testimonials. I have seen people try and get around this by saying, say, for example, Jed Freebird, Paul sets up, they'd love you about, about you. There's some people say, oh,

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they just put the Corvette. They just put Jen. Right. But then part of me is like, you could do that. But then as an audience, would they trust you that you just haven't probate up that testimonial? Doesn't it give it more credit if you're able to give the full name of the individual and perhaps even their business name. Right.

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So I just think in order for it to work for you, just ask for consent. And most of the time, if people are already given you good feedback, they're pretty much most of us time going to say yes anyway, why try to avoid it? Yeah. And I try and do it there. And then you have somebody I try to say,

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oh, this is lovely. Thank you so much. Would you mind if I share it? I really can't emphasize enough how important it is to ask for consent, particularly in a time when sharing other people's quotes or means is quite common practice on platforms like Instagram, because while you might not actually be breaking the law, you are almost certainly breaking people's trust to give you an example at bay creates it to one of my Instagram quotes,

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rebranded it in their own colors and fonts and didn't credit me. But when I reached out in my very English way and said, would you mind awfully just tagging me into that quote because it's on my account. I've got silence. So my trust with that particular creator has just gone. If you are sharing someone else's quote or mean, make sure you credit them in the caption right up at the top.

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So it doesn't look like you're trying to take credit for somebody else's work and also tack them into the image. Most people are actually really happy for you to share their content because it gets their brands in front of a bigger audience. But if in doubt, it really is always better to ask, particularly if you're sharing the work of illustrators or photographers or artists for whom that work is that nobody had a few minutes of your time checking in with them first can save a relationship in the long run.

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I want to finish up by asking you about another type of content people steal on that can land you in legal trouble. And that's other people's legal documents like terms and conditions, privacy policies on other people's websites. Why is that a problem? So I get this a lot. Cause obviously I draft contracts and people fail. That's pretty it. They might share that with another business odor or individual might just go onto a website,

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copy the privacy notice on there, there is copyright in those documents, right? So whoever's created those documents that privacy notice all those T's and C's they have copyright in that agreements, right? Therefore, for example, by terms or conditions, I say that I don't want clients to then copy and paste that particular agreement and send it to somebody else, right.

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Because that's what I've drafted for them. I've looked at their business and I've done it on that basis. So if you all go to websites and you're copying and pasting and take it as your own, then you are in breach of this. Okay. And then you should be mindful of that. And also just from a practical perspective, those T's and C's are not built for your business.

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So there's going to be risks and exposures that you won't know about in that agreement that may occur in your business because of the fact that you haven't got a set of tailored T's and C's for your own business. So in some ways you're not even getting any benefit from it. You can buy legal templates from lawyers like yourself online and that fuel business. Is that a good idea?

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Like Ted blades, mainly because I would say that right, because I would worry about, but the mainly the reason, because I've seen what happens when they go wrong, I've seen when, for example, a clause is missing or the agreement is governed in the state of California and the business odor is in the UK and can't enforce the contracts. I've seen the problems with template contracts.

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And that's the reason why I really dislike them because no one takes the time to read it. They just kind of slap the client's name on there and hope for the best. And then if something goes wrong, for example, the client doesn't pay or the client goes Mia, and you're trying to get that payment. You look at your contract to realize actually,

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if not even in English, Wells contracts, worst contracts, it's actually just like based in Guatemalan or where the U S and it just does not help you just be mindful. I would say it's a place. Yeah. So I guess there's an investment upfront, but it's better to be safe than sorry. And actually having somebody put together a tease and say things like your privacy policy on your website that are actually customized for you and your business and the things that could go wrong,

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it sounds like that's worth the investment. Oh, for sure. It's blessed. Remember once it's done, there might be a few tweaks that might need to happen over the years, but essentially the agreement will stay the same. So it's not like you're going to have to keep changing it year after year after year, The advice has shared in since view is so important.

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If you're investing your time and your knowledge and experience in creating content, it's fighting to make sure you protect it. And as they play, his shamed prevention is generally better than kill. Although we never want you to think the worst of people I've learned the hard way. They're thinking about all the things that could go wrong with your content and getting terms of conditions and legal contracts in place,

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right from the start can help you avoid problems further down the line. If you'd like to connect with Egbe, then I'll link to her website and her socials in the show notes. And she's over on Instagram at. And just to remind that the Egbe is providing legal guidance for educational purposes only. And nothing said on this podcast should be construed as legal advice.

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If you need legal advice, you need to contact a solicitor or equivalent attorney. Would you like to grow your audience on social media, head over to Janet murray.co.uk/audience to take my 62nd audience growth quiz, find out the steps you need to take to build your online audience and your sales. You'll get a detailed report with actionable tips, tried and tested with hundreds of my clients from both products and service based businesses.

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So you can start creating super engaging content to attract your ideal clients today. Thanks for listening to the courageous content podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on apple podcast or share the episode on social media. That way more people can benefit from the free tips and strategies I share and be sure to tag me when you do I'm at Jan Murray on Instagram,

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