User-Generated Content vs. Intellectual Property?

September 19, 2006

I don’t understand the fuss over user-generated content versus copyright laws and IP infringment. I don’t understand why they have to be mutually exclusive. The leading social networking sites, MySpace, Classmates, Facebook, Bebo, etc. and blog publishers, WordPress, SixApart, Blogger, etc. that are pioneering the surge of consumer interaction on the web have a fundamental obligation to provide users with the right to interact with prior art or existing IP, while compensating those IP holders for their assets. MySpace’s next generation and leap forward will be its ability to enable users with powerful platforms to allow consumers to create their own content and tie-in the rights holders to earn a piece of their hard earned Intellectual Property. Each MySpace page can either be a depiction of you, a home for your friends and family to find out more about you or … a storefront to sell your unique/amended content. Kudos to WB and YouTube on their recent deal. IP is king and let’s not quickly dismiss the value and cost to develop successful IP. Imagine a world without Gone with the Wind, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and of course, South Park. We all have benefited from others who have created IP. Let’s not cut them out of the puzzle, but rather, add consumers to the value chain as the uber creation and distribution vehicle. At the end of the day, consumers know best and they know what they want. So, why not engage them with tools to create the next citizen journalist, personal broadcaster or video jockey? As Tiger Woods receives a healthy royalty check from EA each year for building a game with his name, why can’t the IP holders empower the consumer to create content around their original works and share in whatever value creation they create? Ode to the IP holders working hand in hand with consumers (through the publishers). And to the IP Holders, don’t be concerned about what consumers are saying about your brand, product or asset. You, the IP Holder, have a moral obligation to build with ethical standards. Regardless, consumers will blog about it all day long, so the negative message, if there is one, is already out in the public domain so letting consumers “edit/change/control” your IP is not really “changing” much public opinion. Don’t fight it, get paid for it.


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