Turning Your Intellectual Property Into an Asset

Turning Your Intellectual Property Into an Asset.
By Daniel Warren Hill

Adam Mossoff

Adam Mossoff & Mark Shultz – Photo Courtesy of CPIP

In our last article on the Center For The Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP), we discussed how there were three major areas of conversation taking place at the 2015 Fall Conference. Those talking points were piracy, litigation, and the disconnect between the registration of intellectual property and the methods for generating an income from said intellectual property (IP). Adam Mossoff, CPIP Director of Academic Programs and Senior Scholar said, “The law also serves as a platform for innovation and creativity by securing the fruits of productive labors of the inventors, artists, and business persons.” Indeed, you must be all three, or have a team of all three in order to successfully benefit from your intellectual property. We will begin analyzing the concept of monetization first, and the revisit piracy and litigation.

A creator who is not making money from their IP is less likely to be concerned about piracy. In fact, they would probably welcome the attention to their art under the guise of “exposure”. An established creator will find litigation an annoyance, but a lawsuit against a creator with little income could spell the end of days for the goals of the budding professional. The monetization of intellectual property may be the most difficult thing for a creator to come to grips with. An inventor knows that he can create something amazing, but if it cannot be brought to market and sold then it will remain nothing more than an idea. A songwriter could come up with lyrics and a melody, but until it is recorded and broadcast in some method it is just a construct of the imagination.

Every product has a market, every market has a demographic, every demographic has a target (A target audience is most likely to be the purchasers of the products within that market). Most creative types want to feel that the work that they are doing has value, and the first way that value is given is in the form of emotional support and encouragement. Close friends or family typically provide the first bout of feedback for the aspiring professional creator, and this typically leads to additional pursuits down the same path. When a creator has come to the conclusion that they can do nothing other than to create for a living, they must find some balance of “audience participation” in the form of accolades, and also in the form of financial support.

This can be difficult for the creator because they believe themselves to be “artists” creating something the likes of which have never been seen or heard before, and not likely to ever be seen or heard again. The creator is concerned that his or her work will be deemed a lesser quality because a price was placed on it. Now the creator can be bought and sold like any other commodity…

I dare say that the independent artist will never become successful until they can “get over it”. When you realize that you producing a new idea is a lot like running the deep fryer at a fast-food restaurant, you will actually be much better off. I don’t say this to diminish you, but simply to remind you that you are a part of an industry, and that industry has a market share, and there are trends to suggest that people, do or do not spend money in a particular way, and this way is perhaps different now than it once was. And that is usually a reflection of customer objectives financially and morally, and there is truly a global economy today in a way that has never seen the like before.

So you must choose what your role will be in your industry, and you must make realistic expectations for how your company will develop over its lifespan and in your life-time. And that is assuming that you have actually made a commitment at all. To be a profession is to stake your claim. You are publicly defining a portion of who you are by committing to a profession, and thus a course of action(s), and thus a certain lifestyle. Like it or not people will make assumptions about you. I determined long ago that I could either do something for my audience or in spite of it. In current times I find it to be a little bit of both.

Photo courtesy of CPIP

Matthew Barblan – Photo courtesy of CPIP

Whether or not you have decided on a profession because of passion, profit, or a little bit of both, you must now determine how you will monetize it. Matthew Barblan, Executive Director of CPIP, said at the 2015 CPIP Fall Conference, “Having a commercial marketplace for music increases artistic freedom and makes it easier for artists to find success while at the same time staying true to their artistic vision and making great music.” When you have created something you own it, and that ownership gives you the “freedom to decide the economic value”. You can decide if you want to give something away for free (free is a business model), and if you choose to not give it away for free, what is its value and how much must someone pay if they desire possess it?

Without copyright law, the things you create could be claimed by another as their own creation. Maybe it is just a first world mentality, but I genuinely want to feel that I and my thoughts are unique, and they are. But all my thoughts are also inspired by my experiences which are brought on by every animal, mineral, or vegetable I have ever come across in my life. So, some argue that my thoughts should be publicly owned and shared. But copyright accommodates the shared experience already. Its design is clear to state that being inspired by others is not a crime, but to outright duplicate someone else’s creative work is theft. Copyright definitions are the platform for a model. That model is actually really liberating. Copyright law’s effectiveness itself isn’t so much in question, as much as the schedule for monetization. Law and government has become ineffective with regards to the financial state of the music industry (among others). Law and government has failed to predict how being a intellectual property owner in the modern technological era would be so vastly removed from the industry’s financial needs during the era of pen and paper.

You couldn’t have predicted it either. So, let’s decide we no longer will place blame, but rather hold all the professional class of creator accountable, and make a change that will benefit the industry as a whole and not grant any one piece of the puzzle more power than the other. Let’s update the standard for compulsory licenses…because that’s really as much meddling as I’d like to see happen to the music industry. After that, I’d like the opportunity to just explore the rest of the ways I can receive an income, because there are actually a lot…

In the meantime, set aside an hour and a half to catch the first panel of the 2015 CPIP Fall Conference (or at least watch the first twenty-two minutes to hear all of Matthew Barblan’s presentation). Next week we are going to continue our conversation with you about monetization. Over time we will address piracy and litigation, and we will cover not only copyright but also patents and trademarks. We may even make a reference to the 80s…

For more about CPIP and the work they do to affect positive changes for creators and inventors, please visit:
http://cpip.gmu.edu

dhillbiopicDaniel Warren Hill is the publisher for Alchemical Records Magazine, owner of Alchemical Records, and songwriter/guitarist/vocalist for Alternative-Rock band Yellowtieguy.