Copyright Infringement Case Study:
I had a client who developed a course, it cost $60 million. They were a massive university, and their staff and subcontractors created the course, what did they do? They took a whole lot of the data, material, and information off other websites and just dumped it into the “new” course.
When I looked at their course I was a bit suspicious of the different styles used throughout the course material. So I did a Google search for the words that they were using in the course, and I realized about 30% of the course had been taken without permission from the internet. It ended up that the course was infringing copyright, and there was just no way to salvage the course material. The course consisted of videos and workbooks, things like that.
If my client had used the course, they would have been infringing the copyright of many different people. In the end, they simply could not contact and obtain permission to use the material incorporated in the course. They had to scrap a $60 million course because of copyright infringement.
It’s online, surely it is fair game for copying?
People often ask me, “Can I use a quote I find online if I attribute it to them? I will acknowledge that it’s theirs.” No, they own the copyright, and unless they’ve given you permission, they can sue you for copyright infringement, don’t do it!
Can you imagine how frustrated my large client was when they discovered that they had wasted $60 million? My point is if you’re creating course material, you don’t want to click on something that says, “Copyright infringement made easy”. No, you don’t want to copy other people’s stuff. The easiest way to avoid finding yourself in a copyright hole is don’t copy. It couldn’t be any simpler, create your own material and then you won’t be up for copyright infringement.
I wonder if you’ve created a course or material on your website, did you “borrow” some material from somebody else? If you did, maybe this weekend’s project is for you to go and take all that out and put your own original material in, because copyright infringement can be pretty expensive. Learn the lesson from my client, just don’t do it.
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Cathryn Warburton is the Legal Lioness. With more than 2 decades of experience behind her, she legally bulletproofs her client’s businesses and protects them from business bullies. She is a multi-international award winning lawyer, trade mark attorney, patent attorney, author, mentor and keynote speaker.