Legality of new site

Starting up a new company, wanted to check on the legality of it

  • I’ll be selling a 6 - 8 week course of me training, Live, topics relevant to the subject of the week
  • Most topics will be based off a book designed to teach others principles
  • For the most part, I won’t be quoting directly out of the book, merely teaching the concepts
  • Company name, design, my power point slides, what I’ll be saying, etc. is all coming from me, only most of the topics are coming from books
  • Some topics come from previous employer training sessions they had me go through

Wouldn’t this be just like a teacher (although without a license)? If giving credit is necessary, that isn’t a problem. It would be hard to teach it without giving credit.

When you say “giving credit” I assume you are referencing a citation to the author(s) of the books?
Or do you mean Course Credit; which I believe requires a complex accreditation process and would require licensing of some sort.

BTW: You are certain to get many ‘opinions’ from the users on this site. And, based on their vast experience, I would say they have a high value.
But, this is not the place for legal advice.

If I’m understanding correctly, there exists a book that teaches ‘something’, and you want to create site that provides tuition based on the concepts discussed in the book? If so, the author of the book cannot copyright the concepts discussed in the book, only his particular execution. That said, if your site is simply ‘converting’ his execution into a different medium, there most likely would be an argument for possible infringement, even if you are not actually using the actual text or images from the book. It’s not something you can really answer fully in a forum post, it’s far too complex. You may be fine, you my not be, you’d have to sit down with an IP expert and go through some examples of what you intend doing.

If it were me, I’d take a different approach. Contact the author and work with him - tell him you love his work and want to help teach it to a different audience in a different medium - that way you get his official blessing and it gives you more credibility, plus he can help you improve your course. You’ll probably have to give him a cut of the profits or purchase a license etc, but you’ll probably earn 10 times more from the site if you worked with the guy who actually wrote the book your site is about.

Either way, start saving up for a lawyer to sort out the legal side for you :slight_smile:

[FONT=verdana]I would agree entirely with ShadowBox, but with one small difference. Rather than offering the original author a cut in the profits, I would “sell” the idea to the author as a means of promoting the book. Treat the course as a value-added sale to the book, and/or encourage the customers to use the book for post-course follow-up. In other words, give the author a vested interest in the course succeeding, but without any money passing between you.

If the author agrees, you might find that the whole thing can be agreed between you with a simple exchange of letters, in which case you might not need to take legal advice. But that’s a judgement you (both) will have to make for yourselves.

By the way, we are assuming that the author is the sole owner of all the rights in the book. If the book is published by a large company, that might not be the case. You might need to make your approach to the publisher rather than the author. But the principle still applies.


Thanks for the advice. Actually, of the 6 week course of mine, only 2 weeks are from books, both by the same organization. Both are models, and both are VERY widely known, taught, re taught, on sites, in other books and readings, almost everywhere. Does this change anything?

And then what about knowledge learned from previous employers? Is that now considered your knowledge, to re teach and sell? (As long as no, for example, powerpoints are directly copied and no insider info is revealed?)


It doesn’t change the basic advice, which is to make contact with the author (or whoever the rights owners are) to discuss the situation. The main point is to look for a mutual advantage in your running this course. This is not so much a legal point, but rather good business practice.

Knowledge about general techniques, skills, expertise, etc. is yours. No-one can copyright it, and no-one can take it away from you. A former employer can try to bind you to a contract that prevents you from using your knowledge to set up in competition against him. But that’s a matter of contract, not law. In addition, it would be unprofessional (and possibly illegal) for you to reveal your knowledge of the former employer’s confidential affairs. But I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here.


The term referring to this model is Trademarked. Could I call it something new, add a few of my own points?

Or, if I call it the same model, and reference the company, would this be ok?

Hmm, well if it’s trademarked then you’ll almost definitely need their permission to use the term itself. But you could use a different name, which ultimately may be a commercial disadvantage, it would most likely be more success if you were able to associate yourself directly to the ‘known’ name of the book. I’d still go for the ‘working with the author/rightsholders’ option, pretty sure they’d be more than happy to work something out.