Is Your Content Legacy Secure?
As we rapidly shift so much of our working and private lives online, questions are being raised about who owns what, how content can be passed to heirs, and how to effectively archive and preserve what’s important.
First, there’s content generated by your digital profile, the stuff that isn’t necessarily packaged and sold but that you create day after day: things like your Facebook feed, emails, Twitter updates, Flickr photos and more.
It’s important to know what will happen to this content, of course. But for knowledge product creators, the issues go deeper. Creating revenue from a book, an audio series or a member-based website takes hard work and commitment. It makes sense to protect that revenue stream. Here are a few questions to prompt your thinking.
- Have you legally registered and protected your products? Know the basics of copyright and trademark law. File the appropriate forms. Consult with an intellectual property lawyer if necessary.
- Are your contracts with suppliers and collaborators legally prepared or reviewed? Avoid future legal battles over ownership by having clear and solid contracts with editors, designers, illustrators, translators, co-authors, contributors and others.
- Do you understand each clause of your contracts? Know what rights you own and what you may be signing away. For example, do you have a contract with your publisher that grants them full audio and electronic rights to your print book?
- What happens if you’re hit by a bus tomorrow? Make sure your will includes mention of your intellectual property so that it passes to the person or people you wish to own it.
- If you pass away, would you want someone to continue development of any products in progress? Would you want someone to continue selling your products or to withdraw them from the market? Would you feel OK about having the new copyright holder make changes to your material, create additional products in a series you started, or use your name to brand a new product?
One way to ensure your wishes are known and can be carried out it is to create a manual on how to continue or shut down your knowledge product empire. Include log-in details and passwords to your various online accounts, such as your shopping cart, PayPal account, Twitter feed, newsletter management system and so on. Make sure at least one person is familiar with the manual’s contents and have them keep an extra copy.
Knowledge products are a wonderful way to create a lasting legacy of your life’s work. Not only do knowledge products capture your expertise so that current and future consumers can benefit even in your absence, they’re also a form of intellectual property. Don’t let it slip through the fingers of future generations or fade away unnecessarily into obscurity.