Why I don’t protect my writings

George Kao


I don’t worry about anyone — or any company — repurposing my writings and using it in whatever way they want.

Sounds bold, but it actually gives me peace of mind and inspires more creativity.

Disclaimer: This article is based on my own experience. The recommendations don’t serve as legal advice. It may even be terrible legal advice, so take it with a large grain of salt.

Recently there’s been some uproar in the Medium.com community around their updated terms of service. Even before they added clarifications, I was perfectly fine with the updates.

In essence, Medium can use the writings of their members — without compensating the writers.

Seems terrible, right? Why would anyone want their writings to be uncompensated?

Those who are fearful or angry are making some assumptions:

  1. That it’s possible to make more than a few dollars a month from monetizing our blog writing. (Very rarely is that the case.)
  2. That having one’s writing get distributed widely — especially without compensation — is a bad thing if one can’t control it.

As a business coach, I think these assumptions are stuck in small thinking, not understanding the real potential of one’s writing.

Here’s what I’ve learned from 10 years of building a successful content-based solopreneur business, and coaching hundreds of others to make a living based on ideas:

  1. The more widely your writing is spread — which will be mostly outside your control if it’s to spread widely — the bigger your audience will be.
  2. The bigger your audience, the easier it is for you to sell anything (other than books) to make real, worthwhile money.
  3. Whether you sell your own products and services, or make commissions selling others’ products, the sky’s the limit when you have a large enough audience.

If someone is going to distribute your writing, it’s because they’re impressed enough to spread it!

What about people taking credit for your writing, calling it their own?

  1. It rarely happens. My content has been uncopyrighted since 2014 (here’s a 2020 restatement of my uncopyright), and I have only seen a few isolated instances of people taking my content and calling it their own. It’s truly rare, and I don’t worry about it at all.
  2. Even when they try to take credit for it, “their” stolen content doesn’t spread, because it’s not their usual voice. Readers sense it pretty quickly.

Very importantly, when you post something online first, it means that there will always be a timestamp for when that original content was first published on the internet. That means you’ll always be able to claim that you were the first, if you ever need to do that. (I’ve never needed to.)

(To get a timestamp, it’s best to post that content on Youtube or Facebook. With Youtube, one can’t edit the original video, so it’s a confirmed timestamp. With Facebook, make a video sharing the idea (simplest) or write a text-only post, which you can still edit in the future but the original version is still time stamped and publicly available one clicks the 3 dots of that post and click “View edit history.”)

This is why I’m urgent to publish my writing as quickly as possible. I prefer to be the first at sharing an idea, because I don’t want anyone to think that I took it from them.

Anyone is, of course, welcome to take my content and call it their own, or modify it as their own. Like I said, over the years, this has only given me peace of mind and fueled my creativity.

You have unlimited ideas

If you believe that you only have a small number of ideas within you, you’re limiting yourself greatly. It’s not the Truth about you.

Your potential for creativity — and the variety of ideas you could come up with in your lifetime — is truly unknown… especially if you practice creating consistently!

The more you create, the more you write, the more you’ll realize you have even more to say.

The more that your content is spread out there, by you, or by someone else, or by some social media platform, the larger your audience will be.

The larger your audience, the more monetization opportunities you’ll have.

(Even the people who are telling you that you can make money writing are making most of their money selling online courses about how to make money writing!)

We no longer have to wait for anyone (e.g. respected publishers) to choose us, to promote our work.

We can take our destiny into our hands. Self-publish.

I put all my writings into the Creative Commons (specifically, creative commons zero, but you don’t have to be that hardcore, as there are many creative commons licenses.)

Even though publishers won’t want to publish my existing creative-commons books, they might contract with me to write a future book that they own the rights to… that is, if I allow them to ;-)

In summary, liberating my content from copyrights has grown my audience and made me much more creative. I now have more ideas than I could possibly write or create in a lifetime.

That, and more peace of mind.



George Kao

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity" https://www.GeorgeKao.com