How to Protect Your Course from Content Theft

If you’ve spent a lot of time developing your course, you want to protect your intellectual property.

A few years ago, Udemy was the center of a minor scandal in online education when it was discovered that they were inadvertently profiting off stolen courses. Because their revenue came from collecting a percentage of any sale that came through their own advertising, and because they had no review panel for ensuring the content they were advertising hadn’t been stolen, they were making money off referrals to stolen courses that had been posted to their platform.

While these complaints first came to light in 2015, it does not seem as though Udemy’s system for preventing pirated content from making it onto their site has improved. They still rely on users to find and report stolen material themselves, and while they do remove that content, they don’t hunt it down themselves. After all, they have no legal incentive to—the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects them (and other websites with user-uploaded content, such as YouTube) from being liable for their users’ bad behavior.

What stories like these highlight, however, is that course theft does happen. It’s hard to know how often it happens or how significant a concern it is, but it isn’t unheard of. The question this raises for educators is: how worried should I be, and how can I protect my course?

Before we get started, let’s just reiterate that the content you create on LearnDash is all gated, unless you set your course to be “open.” In all other cases, users will have to register and login to access your course, even if your content is listed as “free.” This won’t stop a course thief, but it does mean that learners can’t access your materials unless they register for your course.

Is content theft something you really need to worry about?

Content theft is an alarming and painful possibility for online educators to contemplate. After putting your heart and soul into a course, the last thing anyone wants is to discover that someone has copied your hard work and taken credit for it. Not only is this a moral offense to your rights as the creator of the content, it can also damage your ability to make money off your intellectual property.

However, before allowing yourself to become alarmed by the potential that your course might get stolen, it’s wise to ask yourself whether it is at all likely. And if it is likely, how much harm does it cause you, and what steps should you take to protect yourself?

1. Not all content sharing is theft, and some amount can be good for your IP.

Defining content theft is not

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This story was published at LearnDash and provided for your interest.

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