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Copy right


I have written and delivered a course outline for a company who is thinking of moving their training "in house". They have started to sit in on the course and take lots of notes and asked for worksheets themselves! I am happy to share some information, however they have asked for a complete course outline and worksheets and I have a sneeky feeling they make want to copy / use this for their own in house trainers.

Can I (in a polite way), either propose they buy this from me or copyright my materials? Where do I stand? I want to keep a positive relationship as I deliver other training for them that they want to keep external.

Any ideas  / experience apprecaited - Janey

4 Responses

  1. in legal terms…in practical terms

    In legal terms it depends on the detail of "I have written and delivered a course outline for a company"….if they commissioned the course and paid for it’s development then they can claim (some if not all) rights of ownership, on the other hand if they didn’t, you are in a stronger position.

    In practical terms you are between a rock and a hard place…..if they are paying for their people to attend, you are hard pressed to complain if they take notes.  In a years time when they haven’t booked any courses from you, you will be hard pressed to prove that they are running "your" course.

    My personal approach would be to discuss the matter with the senior person there, I’d explain that I had noticed the sudden change of behaviour from their people and ask outright if they intended to take the course in house; if they did I’d try to rationalise the value that I brought to them as an outsider, if that wasn’t working I’d offer to run a TTT for them, for a price, and coupled with that or if that didn’t work I’d offer to sell them a licence or the rights (if I clearly owned them).

    If all that failed I’d probably suggest that if they "pinched" my work I’d feel compelled to name and shame them on a public site for stealing my IP….training is a small world and it would probably come back to bite them in the future.

    I hope this helps

    (not the same thing but I just wrote a book for Dragons’ Den…it is for sale on Amazon (Start Your Own Business, From Idea to Income)…I am acknowledged as the author inside but not on the cover….so I wrote an author comment on Amazon…after getting clearance from the BBC and HarperCollins.  Amazon published the author comment but deleted my name from it…so I’m still apparently claiming to have written a book that you have to buy to see that I did write it!

    Lesson Number 1… is NOT fair! 


  2. agree with Rus

    I agree with everything Rus says…..if you don’t speak to them then you will never know.  Don’t let the fact that you deliver other training and you might not want to rock the boat put you off….better to talk before anything more happens.

  3. Naming and Shaming….do we need a discussion group?

    My two lira’s (for what it’s worth)…..

    As a new freelance trainer all those years ago, I made the mistake of not broaching the subject with the client and decided to be too polite about it all, to my eventual cost. A possible way forward, could be to tighen up your trading terms and conditions.

    I concur with everything said so far, especially the naming and shaming of poor/bad clients, subject to the applicable law of the land.

    Though I’m sure many of us out there have a few horror stories to tell.


  4. addendum

    in my previous post I commented about Amazon.

    I spent about ten minutes just trying to find the contact details for Customer Services at Amazon and when I did I dropped them an email making my point about the matter.

    Less that 24 hours later they had replied, apologised and changed the author comment to include my name…..a strawberry to Amazon for fixing the problem quickly and effectively!

    Lesson: Life can become more fair if you make an effort!

    (now all I need is some more paying work!)


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