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Creative business in the digital era 19 March, 2008

Posted by Jay Ball in Uncategorized.

As I’ve been very good lately (although not at posting as often as I should), I was let out to attend the Open Rights Group’s event Creative business in the digital era. Over the space of a few hours, I got a good overview of the current state of play on open intellectual property (the whole  Creative Commons thing) and was treated to examples from some very interesting people using CC in anger.

Suw Charman took us through the various types of CC license and some of the main models creative businesses are using to distribute their work using them.

One of the things that really got me thinking was when we got into talking about exactly what the product is (and what are its complements and substitutes).

To give a (probably poor) example: music sales. Traditionally, the physical CD is the product. Its complements might include band t-shirts and a substitute might be an MP3 download. But what if you begin redefining the product? What if the real product is a live gig or a range of merchandise? Then the notion of giving away the traditional stuff doesn’t seem so crazy. It can also take you into a different (less crowded, less commoditised) space.

It’s easy to see how confusion (or disagreement) about the product often messes up client : agency relationships. You get the situation where clients think they are buying output (ads, sites etc) and agencies think they are selling creativity. In reality, both are right to a degree. Of course the real value lies somewhere else entirely: market transformation.

Open IP is going to become increasingly important as brands collaborate ever more closely with customers to create compelling stories and experiences. Check out the event’s wiki, there’s some pretty good stuff on there.



1. Brent Kay - 27 March, 2008

I wonder if your blog entry may have become inadvertently fragmented. It seems to me there are two separate ideas:

1. Redefining the product; and
2. Intellectual property matters

(There is possibly a third issue dealing with agency/client relationships and/or expectations).

While I am happy to embrace the concept of redefinition, I am not convinced that the future ‘open intellectual property’ is viable. Just to play the devil’s advocate, the cruel irony of these musings is that it creates more work and requires more resources from an administrative perspective (i.e., monitoring and compliance) than it is worth. I think I understand the sentiment behind the CC model. I just don’t think clients will buy it.

2. Jay Ball - 28 March, 2008

True, I can be a bit fragmented 😉

For me the two ideas are linked – intellectual property matters (and CC in particular) can enable you to redefine the product. It may also pave the way to depositioning competitors.

I agree that a future of 100% open intellectual property isn’t viable but, as a part or a wider picture which has strong revenue-generating components, I think it has distinct possibilities.

And you’re absolutely right on the admin burden. We see this when companies want to explore all the Web 2.0 opportunities in the belief that there is little or no cost attached. All it does is shift cost elsewhere.

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