Online courses are a large and lucrative business. Online courses can be literally on any topic-how to save money, how to train your puppy, how to find the perfect husband/wife, etc. When people get into the online course creator mindset, they forget the most important thing-protecting that online course.
There are very specific legal terms and policies that you should have on your online course platform to protect your online course. After this post, you will know the must-have legal terms for online course creators that you should include in your must-have legal policy.
Online courses as a source of revenue
Online courses are a great source of income. They can be so profitable as to be your only source of income. I know of several online course creators who make millions of dollars a year.
Now I am not suggesting that just because you have an online course, you’re going to become a multimillionaire. However, having an online course means that you’re going to sell them and make money off of them. Even if you just make $1 from your online course, you’re officially a business.
You’re obligated to follow all the rules and policies that businesses operate under to not get in trouble. Furthermore, you should think like a business and do everything to minimize your liability, to make sure that all your assets are protected.
Your online courses are your business. This means that you must safeguard your courses, protect yourself, your assets, and your buyers.
Must have legal policies for online course creators
As an online course creator, you need proper legal policies and agreements more than anyone else. As I’ve discussed in one of my posts, there are certain policies that every website must or should have to make it legal and protected. Read my post on the necessary policies for having a protected and legal website.
Must-have legal terms for online course creators
When you’re selling online courses, several different issues might come up that you might need to be prepared for, know exactly what you’re going to say.
Being prepared in advance gives an edge and prevents you from being caught by surprise.
Here are some of the must-have legal terms that you need to address as an online course creator.
- Where the course is hosted
- How much it costs and how the payments must be made
- Intellectual Property Rights
- Refund policy
- How your course buyers can use your content
- How your course buyers cannot use your content, and much more.
Where is your online course hosted
Your online course policies must have something about the place where your course is hosted. The reason being is you need to provide clarity, direction, and make things as simple as possible for your buyers.
Certain things might seem like no-brainers for you. It’s so simple and common sense that you don’t think it’s necessary to place these terms in your agreements.
However, a good rule of thumb is to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes, and imagine your buyer is completely clueless about everything! So you would want to tell him or her where to find the course, or how to sign up for it, or maybe even how to access it.
So have some kind of mention of where your course is hosted in your policy.
Information about payments and how they can be made
Payments are important. That’s why you have your courses, to make money. The money issues are also the biggest issues that people have. If you’ve been selling courses for a while, then you know that you’ll get potential buyers who try to get discounts, or lower monthly payments (if you’re offering any).
An online course policy must have some language about the payment situation-specifically how much the course costs, when are the monthly payments due, etc.
You should also cover whether the payments will be charged automatically or whether you’ll send an invoice for the buyer to pay every month.
What happens when the buyer stops paying you? What are some possible actions that you will take in case of non-payment, etc. In other words, don’t get stingy with your words. Clearly state all the terms and cover all the possible scenarios.
Intellectual Property (IP) rights
The IP rights section refers to things such as your copyright, trademark and other protected content. You want to clearly state that you have ownership of copyright, you’re the original creator and owner.
Moreover, you want to clearly make it known that no one can illegally and without your permission ever duplicate, make copies, transfer, or reproduce any part of your online course. Also, you might want to have a language in there that states your buyers aren’t allowed to give their course log in information to others.
Make sure to state that if they violate your copyright or trademark, you will take action and make sure there is a resolution it.
In fact, I have a post published on what you can do if someone steals or uses your website content without your permission. Make sure to read that post and pin it so that you can refer back to it if you ever need to.
Make sure to download my free Cease and Desist Letter template so that you can have one ready in case you need it.
Refund Policy for your online course
Oh, the refund policies are every course creator’s nightmare. It’s also one of the absolute most important aspects of your online course policy.
Having a well-defined and stated refund policy in your agreement is paramount to not having to deal with issues and “he said, she said” situation.
Whether you have a refund policy or not, it’s completely your choice. It’s your product and you’re the one who has to make the decision whether to issue refunds or not. However, one thing you must do is clearly state your refund policy.
If you have one, state how much time your buyer has after purchase to request a refund. State whether you have specific refund rules that they must follow in order to get one, or if they just need to request it. Also, state how they should go about requesting a refund.
For example, some entrepreneurs like Amy Porterfield, require that you do the work that you’re supposed to do. Complete all the worksheets they provide you as part of courses and provide screenshots when requesting a refund. The goal is to show that you gave the course a try, did everything you were supposed to, but it didn’t work for you.
Other course creators or entrepreneurs might have no questions asked money-back guarantee for a certain number of days (30-days or 60-days-you decide the length of time).
While some other course creators simply choose to not have any refund policies, especially if the product in question is a digital product. The justification for this is that it’s a digital product, once you get access to it, you can literally go through it super quick (if it’s not dripped) and request a refund within the allotted time-frame. For this reason, some online course creators decide not to allow refunds.
What are your course buyers allowed to do?
You want to make sure you clearly state your Buyers’ rights and privileges in connection to your course. They have to know what are some actions and things they can do in order to know if they’re complying by your rules & policies.
What are some things that your course buyers cannot do?
With the same breadth that you state what your buyers can do, you should state what they cannot do. To me, the limitations are always more important than privileges.
When it comes to legal terms and policies, you should never assume that your buyer will know what you want because it’s common sense. Always, and I really do mean always, have written agreements or contracts in place, and make sure all the important terms are included.
As online course creators, you have to realize that you now have a business that has the potential of making you a lot of money. As a business owner, you have an obligation to yourself to make sure that your business is operating legally and that it’s protected by all the necessary legally policies and terms.
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