This week, not one, but 2 coaches have reached out to me in a panic and on the verge of tears because they found out that someone else had copied their work. By “copying their work” I mean copying the EXACT words of her sales page and using them without permission.
Another coach discovered that one of the enrollees in her online course loved the sales page so much that she only changed a few words from the program description and then used it as her own!
It can feel so devastating, infuriating and mind-boggling when your hard work shows up on someone else’s page.
I mean, who would really DO that? Who could just go and steal someone else’s work and act like it is their own? It’s crazy!
There are times when someone can be “inspired” by your work, but it is a different thing altogether to lift your exact words from your page. On occasion, it truly can be an innocent mistake, but when it is intentional, it is a grave injustice and serious crime. It is flat-out plagiarism, and it can also be a copyright violation or trademark infringement. It’s totally uncool.
So what do you do when Copycats steal your work? What are the steps that you should take? And how can you try to prevent this from happening in the first place?
Here’s what to do BEFORE a Copycat strikes:
First and foremost, it’s important to not leave your website content totally exposed from the start.
I talk about this a bit in my must-have “10 Legal Tips to Protect the Heart of Your Biz” that is part of my Legal Love Giveaway currently underway. Legal Tip #6 is all about having the right language on your website to legally back you up.
You need to have language on your site that clearly protects your intellectual property and lets Copycats know that you are serious about protecting your work. When you take your business seriously by using very strong legal language, others take you more seriously too.
Not only can you rely on this language when approaching a Copycat, but it also helps to strengthen your energetic boundaries to ward off Copycats in the first place.
Website Terms + Conditions are an important legal protection to support you in PRACTICAL ways but also in ENERGETIC ways.
So if you don’t have Website Terms + Conditions on your website right now, you’ll want to get on that pronto, both to CYA and strengthen your boundaries.
Here’s what to do AFTER a Copycat strikes:
- Presume innocence first. LOTS of times, like minds can think alike. Especially when it comes to program titles or taglines. Less so for sales page content and website content when someone has swiped PARAGRAPHS of content, of course, but for themes or taglines, it happens often. (e.g., I can think of at least 5 coaches/entrepreneurs off the top of my head who use “love” in their brand like I do with Legal Love – love is a common theme among heart-centered entrepreneurs, so it is not likely we are “copying” each other!)
- Breathe and try to relax. I know you have smoke coming out of your ears and you want to blast what happened on social media right that second. Please don’t do that! Try to restrain yourself. Keep breathing, use essential oils, take a walk. Remain calm and focus on the next steps you’ll want to take….
- Take screenshots and photos of EVERYTHING. When you have calmed down, now you need to gather the evidence. Take screenshots of every word you feel has been copied and store them in an electronic file, noting dates and times as much as possible. You need to record your evidence.
- Get clear about WHAT YOU WANT. What is it that you would like to happen? Do you just want the person to take down their sales page? Remove your words from their website? Stop using anything that sounds like yours right now? Give you credit for your language? Consider legal action if that makes sense? Ultimately, what do you want the OUTCOME to be in this situation? (Hint: this helps determine your next step.)
- Consider your options. Learn about your options. As you read them, check in with yourself and tap into your intuition. Which one feels right to you using both your mind and your intuition? Then go from there. Here are three options you may want to consider:
- If you want them to just TAKE DOWN the information but don’t want to be ferocious about it, sometimes a well-crafted (legally-advised) e-mail asking them to take it down immediately does the trick. (I actually always recommend this to be the first step for everyone. Even as a lawyer, I don’t run to legal options first. Start with personal communication, but remain as professional as possible. It’s not wise to be mud-slinging…even when you are mad.)
- If you want to use stronger language because you are pissed beyond belief, have a lawyer draft a type of cease-and-desist letter to demand that the Copycat cease using your info because they are violating your intellectual property rights.
- If you have lost serious business as a result of the Copycat (remember, you have to prove this!) and you feel REALLY passionate about it, then talk with an attorney to see if it is appropriate to file a lawsuit in small claims court or otherwise. (BTW, lawsuits can be energetically heavy, time-consuming, and expensive – but sometimes they are truly necessary to “right the wrong” that was committed by the Copycat – but be sure to give it good thought before you go this route.)
- Keep the faith and watch for the lesson. Remember that the Universe has your back at all times, and no matter what happens, you will have learned something about yourself and your business that can help you going forward. At the very least you will have learned why it is so important to have the right legal protections in place.
- Immediately get Website Terms + Conditions up on your website before another Copycat can strike again. Don’t let your content be naked for one more minute. Get that website some clothes and strengthen your boundary by putting the right language in place so you can feel safe, secure, confident and empowered.
If this Legal Love Tip was helpful to you and you want MORE hot and sexy legal tips, then you don’t want to miss the Legal Love Giveaway!
Sign up right now to get the “10 Legal Tips to Protect the Heart of Your Biz” and enter to win $1,500 of free legal work. (Yes, you read that correctly! FREE legal work!) Everyone who enters the giveaway immediately gets 10 practical, helpful, bite-sized legal tips that you can use right away.
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Here’s to stopping all Copycats in their tracks, empowering yourself with red-hot legal tips, and having NO MORE naked websites!