I am compiling a book and want to protect myself if someone who has willinging contributed decides they want payment for contribution?

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I am compiling a book and want to protect myself if someone who has willinging contributed decides they want payment for contribution?

I want to reach a large volume of people by distributing a questionnaire via social media, email etc. I will be transparent that the content generated from the project may be used for a book or other public consumption but I will not reveal last names or real first names, if desired. Right now the project is not expected to generate much profit, if any. My goal is to create awareness around a sensitive topic to inspire empathy and not hatred. The book would be created for children and their parents. But, I do want the flexibility to earn money from editing/compiling the information that people voluntarily sent it. What do I need to do to protect myself from people wanting payment or claiming that they did not give permission to use the content? One more questions…when I start the process of letting people know exactly what I am doing, do can I copyright the idea or even the questionnaire? THANK YOU

Asked on May 27, 2017 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can draft a simple agreement for people to sign, which clearly states that they give you permission to use the content and that they acknowledge that they will not be paid for its use.
You can't copyright an idea--ideas are not copyrightable. You can have people sign a nondisclosure or confidentiality agreement, in which they agree to not use your idea for themselves or disclose it to others; have them sign the agreement *before* you disclose anything, since they are only bound as to what you disclose to them after they agree to not disclose.
You can copyright the questionaire, since original textual creations (e.g. something you wrote yourself, not copied from other sources) is copyrightable.


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