For anyone involved in training they will not need to be told that creating high-quality training materials requires significant time, effort and expertise. As a training professional or organisation, it is crucial to protect your intellectual property rights to safeguard the value and integrity of your training materials. PDI has direct experience of attempted intellectual theft, when we were asked to print from an obvious unauthorised photocopy. But there are some effective strategies to protect your materials from copy or unauthorised use.
Copyright is a fundamental tool for protecting intellectual property rights. Most countries have similar rules and legal frameworks but here we give our knowledge of the UK position. Note; we do not believe this is anyway unique to the UK and we make a legal disclaimer that we are not lawyers!
In the UK, the author of a work has copyright ownership unless explicitly sold or permission given. Of course ownership can be disputed if it is not clear who the author is. So we recommend that you include a copyright notice prominently on your training materials, indicating that the content is protected by copyright and explicitly stating your ownership.
Although copyright protection is automatic, it is possible to go a stage further and register your copyright with the appropriate copyright office thus giving additional legal protection. For most training companies this is not practical as the materials are constantly revised and updated. What is often registered is the over-riding concept of the training. So we will find
Six Thinking Hats®
The ® symbol being the registration of copyright mark.
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
In the world of training it is common for the owner of the IP to sell the rights to train on a product to an Authorised Training Partner ATP. The agreements for these rights can be quite complex. These agreements outline the permissions and restrictions for accessing, using and distributing your materials. Including provisions on the limitations of use, reproduction and resale can help protect your intellectual property rights. NDAs establish legal obligations, ensuring that the recipients of your materials understand their responsibilities regarding confidentiality and non-disclosure.
Digital Materials and eBooks
For digital training materials, consider implementing watermarking or Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions. Watermarking involves embedding unique identifiers or marks on your materials, making it easier to trace unauthorised copies or identify the source of infringement. DRM technologies provide encryption and access control mechanisms, restricting unauthorised copying, distribution and modification of your digital training materials. The PDI eBook has all of these capabilities within its systems.
Employee/Team Member Awareness
In all organisations, it is wise to educate your employees and team members about the importance of intellectual property protection. Provide clear guidelines on handling and safeguarding training materials to minimise the risk of inadvertent infringement. This is especially important in the training industry when many trainers are freelance and often feel that the materials, which often they have contributed to, belongs in part to them. Clear guidelines are essential
Monitor and Enforce
Finally, regularly monitor the usage and distribution of your training materials. Conduct periodic audits to ensure compliance with licensing agreements and identify any unauthorised use. If infringement is detected, take appropriate legal actions to enforce your rights and seek remedies. After all it’s your hard work and it’s your property, usage infringement is theft.