How Do You Protect Your Information Products? Part 1

We infopreneurs (information entrepreneurs) are a breed apart in the publication industry. We specialize in making money with information products and at the same time we give away a lot of our information products. We know that free stuff sells stuff. We have learned that lesson well.

All profitable infopreneurs usually give away products to build an “opt-in” mailing list. They then use this mailing list and the permission granted by the opt-in system to sell, up-sell, and to build a marketing funnel that lets them sell increasingly higher priced products to the same clients.

We qualify our freebies by insisting that redistribution of these information products be distributed with all our identifying information and links back to us. We want to freely give but always expect ultimately to profit while helping others.

After all, infopreneurs are information entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs expect to make money. So, how do we balance creating widespread availability of our products with some degree of protection?

With printed books (as opposed to digital books), two methods are used to identify and protect the author’s rights.

  1. Copyright is the first method. It protects the rights of the author and restricts the product’s use and dissemination by others. It protects the specific expression of ideas but cannot protect the actual facts and ideas. Copyrights are used for protection of both written and electronic information products. Placing a copyright symbol, the date of the copyright, and the owner of the copyright on hard copies or digital works provides the first line of defense against someone using your work as their own. I suggest that you place a copyright notice with the date of production even on your drafts. It provides one more piece of evidence of your authorship if a question of authorship arises later.
  2. Registration of an information product by the author through nationally and internationally recognized “serial” (identification) numbers provides a second line of defense. These include ISBN numbers (for books); ISSN numbers for periodicals (both printed and electronic); and ESN’s (for electronic media). These three are not the only “serial” numbers in use, but are the most common ones. Each provides some degree of protection for the author by registering the information product under the publisher or author’s name.

You are not required to have a copyright or any other type of identification number on your publications, but not having one is an open invitation to unscrupulous readers to steal your works.