There are many intellectual property considerations when entering into contracts or selling your products online. I have some advice for fellow sellers that is useful when entering into contracts and/or marketing your products. First, make sure you retain your copyrights and have the ability to enforce them by registering your copyright with the US Copyright office! You can do this online at copyright.gov for a $55 fee. The application is fairly simple to complete.
Within your Products:
Make sure you have a copyright disclaimer in all of your work. In all of my work, even my free items, I have the following on page 2 after the cover page (feel free to use!):
© YEAR Michelle Heisler: The Teaching Bank. All rights reserved. Purchase of this unit entitles the purchaser the right to reproduce the pages in limited quantities for classroom use only. Duplication for an entire school, an entire school system or commercial purposes is strictly forbidden without written permission from the publisher. The Teaching Bank, ADDRESS, EMAIL ADDRESS
Copying any part of this product and placing it on the Internet in any form (even a personal/classroom website) is strictly forbidden and is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). These items can be picked up in a google search and then shared worldwide for free.
I have also added the FBI Piracy seal to my TOU page. You can view the information regarding the use of the seal, the requirements and TOU here: FBI Piracy Seal Information
In addition to my TOU page I have included on every page of my products (even free ones):
© YEAR Michelle Heisler: The Teaching Bank
Having these identifiers on your products will leave no question that the work is yours and make it harder for people to outright copy things.
Do google searches on a regular basis for your name, store name, product names, etc. I have the best luck with “@Michelle Heisler: The Teaching Bank” since that is what is at the bottom of every page. You will be amazed that even with these notices on your products many people will upload them to websites. The vast majority of infringers mean no ill will, they just don’t understand how putting a unit on their personal website or school website really gets it out there to the world through Google. The only place a file is secure online is in a password protected site.
Find an email address for the website, the individual, the school district, etc. and email them a DMCA letter asking for it to be removed. You can find a template letter that I have used and have had success with from Tools for Teachers by Laurah J. Most people don’t honestly know they are doing wrong and immediately comply and apologize.
In addition to notifying the infringing site, it is best to notify Google as well so it is removed from their Google search function. You can do that here: Google DMCA Complaint
Laurah J, over at the Tools for Teachers by Laurah J, has a wonderful, FREE, resource in her store called, Understanding Copyright and Trademark Law: A Guide for TpT Sellers, that I highly recommend you download. It is wonderful for new and seasoned TpT sellers!
Nothing will protect you 100% from copyright infringement. There are always people or companies out there that will be willing to break the law no matter the risks, but hopefully, these things will make it more difficult and deter the people not willing to take the time. It may also help educate those out there that are truly unknowing to the law and mean no harm.