Stolen Opportunities: Content Ownership in a Digital Age
Navigating the downside of building in public
Welcome back to the Brink! It’s always a pleasure when I get the opportunity to sit down and release these for you - there was a bit of a pause while I dealt with a few shifts that needed to take place, but I’m excited to be back and ready to dive into:
The downside of building in public
How to protect your product
The new reality for creator-led companies
The Downside of Building in Public
Recently, I learned that a subscriber of the newsletter stole the content pillars, then positioned it as their own to brands, partners, and media outlets.
And, I found out in the most brutal way possible: While in negotiation with a partner to sponsor content for the second half of the year.
The subscriber has a larger following than me and had done so in an almost imperceptible way - slowly over the last 3 months. But, the effort was as clear as day once the partner and I dug in. Thankfully, with the work and support of the partner in question, I was eventually able to prove my ownership of the content, but the opportunity window for them to sponsor the newsletter had passed.
The damage was done.
And it could have been so much worse.
How to Protect Your Product
The investigation into this issue cost me time and resources; it also could have resulted in the loss of revenue and a long-term fracture of a business relationship I’d taken months to cultivate.
All because someone with a bigger audience saw an opportunity.
I immediately called my attorney and got to work on creating a plan to ensure my content could never be used without my permission again, so today, I’m sharing those steps with you in hopes that you’ll learn from my experience.
Four Stages to Protecting Creator Content: Chart by LaTecia Johnson
#1 Secure Your Investment
We’re implementing a secondary confirmation that will go out later today to subscribers to confirm their email addresses before receiving the next issue of the newsletter.
This helps ensure that only genuine subscribers have access to the content.
#2 Make Your Protections Plain
We’ve added a copyright notice at the bottom of each newsletter, clearly stating that the content is protected and cannot be reproduced without my permission. The disclaimer includes verbiage that explicitly prohibits any unauthorized use or distribution of the newsletter.
#3 Track Where Your Content Is Going
We’ll be implementing distribution tracking within the newsletter to identify any potential unauthorized usage. This will allow me to take immediate action if I discover any infringement.
#4 Establishing Value
Lastly, I’ll be introducing a paid tier which will include even more content that will be hard to replicate and encourage all of you to report any instances of unauthorized use or distribution that you come across.
By taking these steps, I hope to significantly reduce the risk of my newsletter being stolen and used without my permission, ensuring that my hard work and valuable content remain protected.
The New Reality for Creator-Led Cos.
The experience of the last week is an unfortunate element that happens when you’re building in public and the individual has a slightly larger audience than you, but also the reality of what many creators deal with on a daily basis.
In the new reality of creator-led companies, attribution often happens without their permission. With the rise of social media and the ease of sharing content, creators frequently find their work being shared and circulated without proper credit or acknowledgment.
This phenomenon has become particularly prevalent in the digital age, where the boundaries of intellectual property are often blurred. As creators pour their time, effort, and creativity into their work, it is disheartening to see their content being used and attributed to others without their consent.
This lack of permission not only undermines the recognition and value of their creations but also poses challenges in terms of monetization and building a sustainable business model.
There are so many moving pieces to the creator economy with more and more things shifting every day. Here’s a list of things that crossed my desk this week that made me stop and think or get inspired and dream.
If you’re not familiar with the good folks at Music&Water, then you’re missing out. Their free & paid community model is powering the new creator economy by making sure we all stay informed in an easily digestible way. Their latest release provides a breakdown of things to know about music streaming models if you like that sort of thing. And, I do!
This one caused a bit of a stir a few weeks ago when it was released because some felt it was too soon to deliver a comprehensive strategy guide, but I liked that someone with a strategy and creative background was tackling it from day one.
Bottom line: if you’re searching for some insight into how to use Threads or just some ideas, this is a good place to start + his newsletter, Future Social is a pretty solid read week on week.
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