Copyright in Australia doesn’t cover ideas that you splash around.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might have gotten all excited about the idea of co-creating content with your customers. You might even have thought about putting some ideas out in the world and crowdsourcing the next step.
Now, before I go any further, let’s be clear about something: I am not a lawyer. I am not qualified to give you any legal advice of any kind, and you can’t construe this email to be anything of the kind.
But what I can share with you is that putting your ideas in public on your blog is a shit idea.
Crowdsourcing is super helpful for finding a great many things. Bikes. Cars. Talent. Jobs. Definitions. Recipes.
You know, mostly-tangible things.
But ideas that you want to execute on? Or that you will be executing on? You should Shut The F*** Up about those.
Keep it secret: Copyright in Australia only protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself.
In Mark Pearson and Mark Polden’s handbook on media law, they write that courts will just tell you ‘bad luck’ if a competitor happens to see your idea and beats you to the execution:
‘… unless you can show that your rival has copied a substantial part of your original treatment. The lesson here is that you shouldn’t use blogs or social media to float ideas you want to protect.’
In practice, this means that if you have an idea for an ebook that you feel might benefit your customers, and you publish that on your business’s blog or Facebook page as a way to get a feel for their responses, then when a lurking competitor sees it and beats you to the execution, there is nothing you can do about it.
You are better off getting customer input into your content production pipeline by way of a Mind of the Customer program, than you are from any public domain.
Otherwise, you might find yourself giving your competitors the ability to out-sell you.
Having said that, you can use this principle to lead your rivals off on a total goose-chase while you spin gold in the background. All it takes is deep research + a splash of creativity.
And cojones, obviously. 😉
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