Many new virtual assistants don’t set up their businesses the legal way right from the start. They want to test things out first before committing financially to getting their businesses registered. Sometimes, they don’t get legal assistance for years or at all.
This can be a very costly mistake.
Let’s take a look at how you can protect yourself and your business against plagiarism right from the start.
Begin by setting up your business the right way:
- Pick a Name That Reflects Your Business Plan
- Check for Trademarks.
- Check that it’s a name that is Web-Ready and the domain is available
- Claim Your Social Media Identity.
- Register Your New Business Name.
- Apply for Trademark Protection.
Remember that every country is different so check which procedure and laws apply to your business for trademark protection in the country where you register your business.
Since your VA business is mostly online and all your copy exists online, here are the 4 basics of intellectual property protection:
- Trade Secrets.
There is such a thing as The International Copyright Treaty which protects creative work under the Berne Convention.
While no creative work is automatically protected worldwide, there are international treaties which provide protection automatically for all creative works as soon as they are fixed in a medium, for example, Ebooks, Emails, Websites, Documents, Videos or Template Graphics.
Copyrights for creative works do not have to be declared and are automatically in force at creation: you as the author do not need to “register” or “apply for” a copyright in countries adhering to the Berne Convention.
You can use Grammarly.com or QueText.com to check against plagiarism.
You can also use Google Alerts to detect if someone has plagiarised your content by setting up specific Alerts.
When someone steals your work it can be extremely traumatic, but you need to set aside emotion and deal with the situation in a professional manner.
- Take screenshots of work that was plagiarised by the other person and build a folder of evidence that can prove that your work was stolen.
Note: If someone published your work without your permission but still credited you as the sources this is not considered plagiarism, however, you can still ask them to take the content down as copyright infringement.
- When you find that someone has plagiarised your work, contact that person via email and ask that they remove the copy from their website, social channels or where ever they have used it.
- If they don’t comply the next step is to file a claim with Google or the website host. Ask them to take down the site which features your stolen work. Remember that you need to keep good records of your work so that you can submit that as evidence when asked.
- You can also report this person to Facebook or Instagram if they are using content or images that you can prove infringes on your copyrights.
- If this does not resolve the issue you may have to consider legal action.
Although it is impossible to prevent this from happening you can do as much as possible to protect your assets. Since your business is online, your assets are the website copy, blog posts, creative work and documents that you create for your business as well as your intellectual property.
Follow these steps to prevent someone from stealing your assets as much as possible:
- Document everything you do and create and be meticulous with your filing system.
- Register and Trademark your business name.
- Copyright your content.
- Do research on people you work with or let into your inner circle.
- Follow your instincts. If someone shows you who they are through their actions then believe them. Observe their behaviour and interactions with others. Social media is a powerful tool, use it.
- Place a copyright notice on every blog post, website and documented content that you create for sharing.
- Add Terms & Conditions of Use to your website.
- Protect your images and social media graphics by adding a watermark, logo or your website URL to them.
Just know that there are people out there who operate like this. People who copy and steal others assets and present them as their own. When this happens, remove the emotion from the situation and deal with it in a professional businesslike manner.
Plagiarizing is not acceptable. It is hurting someone’s business and livelihood. It’s easy to catch and hold people accountable when they do this.
So be vigilant when you read websites, blog posts and other content and speak up when you suspect that the word was plagiarized.
Remember that you have the right to protect yourself and your business against plagiarism.
Thinking of leaving your full-time job but need your virtual assistant business to be lucrative before making the move? Speak to one of our VA mentors to see how they can help you elevate your business.
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