Friday, December 20, 2013

The Importance of Protecting Intellectual Property

The Importance of Protecting Intellectual Property

There are many intellectual property considerations when entering into contracts or selling your products online.  I have some advice for fellow sellers that is useful when entering into contracts and/or marketing your products.  First, make sure you retain your copyrights.   And make sure you register your copyright with the US Copyright office! You can do this online at for a $35 fee. The application is fairly simple to complete.

Make sure you have a copyright disclaimer in all of your work. In all of my work, even my free items, I have the following on page 2 after the cover page (feel free to use!):

© YEAR Michelle Heisler: The Teaching Bank. All rights reserved. Purchase of this unit entitles the purchaser the right to reproduce the pages in limited quantities for classroom use only. Duplication for an entire school, an entire school system or commercial purposes is strictly forbidden without written permission from the publisher. The Teaching Bank, ADDRESS, EMAIL ADDRESS

Copying any part of this product and placing it on the Internet in any form (even a personal/classroom website) is strictly forbidden and is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). These items can be picked up in a google search and then shared worldwide for free.

On every page of my products (even free ones) I have:

            © YEAR Michelle Heisler: The Teaching Bank

Having these identifiers on your products will leave no question that the work is yours and make it harder for people to outright copy things.

Do google searches on a regular basis for your name, store name, product names, etc. You will be amazed that even with these notices on your products many people will upload them to websites. So many people just don’t understand how putting a unit on their personal website really gets it out there to the world through Google. Find an email address for the website, the individual, the school district, etc. and email them a DMCA letter asking for it to be removed. Here is a template letter that I have used and have had success with. Most people don’t honestly know they are doing wrong and immediately comply and apologize.


Subject: Notice of DMCA Violation

You have posted a PDF of my (PRODUCT TITLE) on your website. By posting copyrighted material on the Internet you have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Every page of this document specifies, that I, (YOUR NAME), am the Copyright owner of this material and on page 2 I specifically state that I do not authorize it to be uploaded and/or published on your website in any format.

Please remove this item from any place on your website immediately in order to comply with the copyright law.

The copyrighted work at issue is:

You can reach me at (YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS) for further information or clarification.


In addition to notifying the infringing site it is best to notify google as well so it is removed from their google search function. You can do that here: Google DMCA Complaint 

Nothing will protect you 100% from copyright infringement. There are always people or companies out there that will be willing to break the laws no matter the risks, but hopefully these things will make it harder and deter the people not willing to take the time. It may also help educate those out there that are truly unknowing and mean no harm.

If you are looking for some additional TpT selling tips please check out Erica Bohrer's Ed-Venture's phenomenal Blog post titled, "Getting Started on TpT". Click the graphic below!


  1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this information. It is extremely helpful.

  2. I'm glad it will be helpful to you Lauren! :)

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this information! Really helpful! Thanks!

  4. So happy this was helpful for you! :)

  5. Thank you for posting this! I really need to make sure that I have clear copyright info. on my products. I just found one of my free products on a school district website and have sent an email. Is it OK to use your product words (with a few minor changes)? This was very helpful!
    Teacher Treasure Hunter

  6. You're welcome Melissa! If you are referring to using my "product words" as using the wording from the above Cease & Desist letter or using my copyright notice information that is 100% fine and I am happy to share it!

    1. Yes, Shelly. The words for the copyright notice that you include on your products. Sorry I wasn't very clear! I'm extremely tired! :) I'm off to VBS now. Thank you! Have a great week.

    2. No problem Melissa! I totally understand! :) Glad my post was helpful for you!