Intellectual property rights cover a wide spectrum, and while I typically talk to software licensing IP – I don’t want to overlook other forms of digital IP that can place an organization at risk if used improperly.
Just because something is available in digital format doesn’t mean it can be readily copied, shared or paraphrased. Check those licenses! The hard part is that the digital format frequently makes it that much easier to do something wrong when it comes to IP.
It cost this California company $300,000 because they were internally distributing “press packages” that included unlicensed copies of articles. This was not an intentional act, it was a mistake made by someone who didn’t know better…could this happen to your company?
I attended Scott Bain’s (SIIA’s Litigation Analyst) presentation “Reduce Legal Risks by Managing Digital Content” in June at ECPweb’s SAM Summit 2008 in Chicago – a terrific presentation and education for me (I try to be very aware of potential IP issues…but I found that even so I had unknowingly acted illegally in the past when it came to digital piracy).
Let’s think about some common examples of potential piracy: Music or Video’s stored on your corporate network, subscription based content forwarded through e-mail or stored to the network for others to use, excerpts from e-mail newsletters that you copy and send to others…the list goes on.
I’ll let you in on my guilt…like most professionals I get a number of newsletters e-mailed to me on a regular basis. Before I had it pointed out to me that it was wrong, I would think nothing of copying the full contents (author, etc) of an article and sending it to someone I felt would be interested. The problem – those e-mail newsletters are sponsored by companies that pay to have people see their ads…but circumventing the advertising I was cheating them. If you want to share, use the built in mechanism most newsletters have to “Share with a Friend”, or send the link to the owners website so the person you’re sharing with can access the source. Better yet, check the license terms for sharing the content.
There’s a great educational site by the SIIA to help you and your employees make the right choices (www.AskBeforeYouAct.com). Digital assets are a bit tougher to monitor than software assets, but they are every bit as important to manage them appropriately.