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How to Protect Online Course from Piracy

How to Protect Your Online Course From Digital Piracy

Creating an online course is an exciting endeavor, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of which is the risk of digital piracy.

In this article, we will explore strategies to safeguard your online course from being stolen or pirated. So, grab your virtual pirate hat, and let's set sail on a journey to protect your valuable content!

Eliminate Pirated Copies of Your Course

Our course was stolen! Someone else was making money off of our hard work. So, we found an anti-piracy expert to reclaim our lost rankings and stop unauthorized copies. Now you can work with him too. 

  • Avoid lost revenue when others monetize YOUR content
  • Stop brand damage when your name is used on shady websites
  • Prevent pirated copies from appearing above you in search results
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Tactics to Try (or Not Try)

Tactic

Does It Actually Work?

Require Two-Factor Authentication

Not Really

Watermark Images and Videos

Yes, Helpful If You Go to Court

Do Not Allow Concurrent Logins

Not Really

Disable Right-Click

Not Really

Use a Trusted Platform for Course Distribution

Not Really, but Still Do

Copyright Your Content

Yes, Helpful If You Go to Court

Apply for a Trademark

Yes, Helpful If You Go to Court

Keep Evidence of Course Creation

Not Really, but Still Do

Monitor Your Content for Piracy

Yes, but Tedious & Repetitive

Raise Disputes with Search Engines for Pirated Content

Yes, but Tedious & Repetitive

The Risk of Online Course Content Theft

The Risk of Online Course Theft

Imagine pouring your heart and soul into creating an incredible online course, only to find out that someone has shamelessly copied and distributed it without your consent. The risk of online course theft is real, and it can have detrimental effects on your business and your ability to monetize your knowledge.

Pirated copies of your course can spread like wildfire across the internet, depriving you of potential revenue and diluting the value you offer to legitimate paying students. Even digital course videos can be copied and redistributed.

But fear not, matey! There are steps you can take to defend your online treasure. Just keep in mind that there are always loopholes that crafty pirates can find to steal your course anyway.

Strategies to Prevent Online Course Theft

Strategies to Prevent Online Course Theft

While nothing is fool-proof, there are ways to discourage online course theft. Using some or all of the below suggestions will reduce the risk of your course being pirated, though we always advocate for using a service that keeps your course safe.

Require Two-Factor Authentication

Implementing two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your course platform. By requiring students to verify their identity through a second means, such as a unique code sent to their mobile device, you can ensure that only authorized individuals gain access to your content.

Unfortunately, we’ve clocked that even real people can get past this and steal content. It may make it easier to go after the specific party responsible, but it doesn’t necessarily make it less likely that your course will be stolen.

Watermark Images and Videos

Applying visible watermarks to your course materials can act as a deterrent to piracy.

Watermarks can include your logo, the student's name, or a copyright notice. They make it more challenging for pirates to use your content without drawing attention to the fact that it has been stolen.

Again, this may not stop course pirates who are determined to make money off of your course.

Do Not Allow Concurrent Logins

Restricting access to your course from multiple devices simultaneously can help prevent unauthorized sharing of account credentials. By limiting logins to a single device at a time, you reduce the likelihood of your course falling into the hands of pirates who distribute it to others.

We had this feature enabled on our own online course on Thinkific, but guess what? Our course was stolen. Sometimes, small prevention steps just don’t cut it.

Disable Right-Click

Disabling the right-click functionality on your course platform can prevent users from easily downloading or copying your course materials. Although this measure is not foolproof, it adds an extra hurdle for would-be content thieves.

This was another method of prevention that we used on our own online course but to no avail. The pirate still managed to steal our online course and distribute it on Reddit and elsewhere.

Use a Trusted Platform for Course Distribution

Instead of relying on general-purpose platforms like YouTube, consider using a dedicated course platform that offers built-in security measures. These platforms often have technology in place to protect your course content and can provide a safer environment for both you and your students.

We used Thinkific (arguably the most trustworthy platform and our personal favorite) and still managed to have our course stolen. Of course, it’s not Thinkific’s fault, but it goes to show you that pirates will find a way to steal your course.

Legally Protect Your Online Course

Legally Protect Your Online Course

Defending your online course goes beyond technological measures. It's essential to understand and leverage legal protections to safeguard your intellectual property.

This is something that a copyright and/or DMCA takedown service can really help enforce effectively.

Here are some steps you can take:

Copyright Your Content

Copyright provides legal protection for your original course materials. By registering your course with the appropriate copyright office, you establish a clear record of ownership and gain legal recourse if someone infringes upon your rights.

While this helps retroactively when you take pirates to court, it doesn’t quite prevent your course from being stolen in the first place.

Apply for a Trademark

If you have developed a distinctive brand or logo associated with your course, consider applying for a trademark. This further strengthens your legal rights and can help prevent others from using your brand to promote their own courses.

Keep Evidence of Course Creation

Document the process of creating your course, including drafts, outlines, and timestamps. This evidence can be crucial in proving your ownership and the originality of your content in case of disputes or legal action.

This is the easiest way to have proof of authenticity and ownership, but again, it’s mostly only helpful retroactively.

What is a DMCA Takedown?

Monitor Your Content for Piracy

Monitor Content for Piracy

Despite your best efforts, piracy may still occur. It's important to stay vigilant and actively monitor the internet for unauthorized copies of your course. Regularly search for infringing content using relevant keywords, and take immediate action to protect your rights.

It can be hard (and just annoying) to stay on top of this all by yourself, especially if you don’t have access to tools to monitor your content regularly. This is why we recommend utilizing some type of service that can take care of monitoring the internet for your content.

Raise Disputes with Search Engines for Pirated Content

If you discover pirated copies of your course, you can raise disputes with search engines to have the unauthorized content removed from search results. By notifying search engines of the infringement, you can mitigate the visibility and accessibility of stolen versions.

Additionally, consider seeking assistance from specialized services that help combat course piracy. For example, DDIY offers a guide on how to handle stolen courses, including the takedown process and recommended services to aid in protecting your content.

Conclusion

Ahoy, online course creators!

By implementing these strategies and leveraging legal protections, you can safeguard your precious content from the clutches of digital pirates.

Remember, protecting your course not only preserves your hard work but also ensures that you can continue sharing your expertise with eager learners around the globe.

We know firsthand how frustrating it can be to have your course stolen (like, hello, ours was!) and we’ve fine-tuned the process ourselves, so we want to share the knowledge and protect your content for you.

We’ll monitor your content and serve pirates with takedown notices on your behalf.

Eliminate Pirated Copies of Your Course

Our course was stolen! Someone else was making money off of our hard work. So, we found an anti-piracy expert to reclaim our lost rankings and stop unauthorized copies. Now you can work with him too. 

  • Avoid lost revenue when others monetize YOUR content
  • Stop brand damage when your name is used on shady websites
  • Prevent pirated copies from appearing above you in search results

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent piracy of my online course?

To prevent piracy of your online course, you can employ strategies such as requiring two-factor authentication, watermarking images and videos, restricting concurrent logins, disabling right-clicking, and using trusted course platforms.

How do I protect online video content?

Protecting online video content can involve measures like watermarking, disabling downloading options, encrypting video files, and hosting videos on secure platforms with digital rights management (DRM) capabilities.

How do people steal content from an online course?

People can steal content from online courses through unauthorized access, unauthorized sharing of account credentials, downloading or copying course materials, and distributing the stolen content through various channels.

How can I secure my online course?

To secure your online course, you can implement measures such as strong user authentication, content watermarking, access restrictions, technological protections provided by trusted platforms, and legal protections through copyright and trademarks.

What should I do if someone pirates my online course?

If someone pirates your online course, you can take legal action, raise disputes with search engines to remove infringing content, and seek assistance from specialized services that aid in takedown efforts, such as those recommended by DDIY.