At a conference on Innovations in Learning, sponsored by Brandon Hall Research (See: www.brandon-hall.com), I learned about how new technologies are being used to create “communities” that engage users – and help to improve products and services and build businesses.
The old model was that companies defended their brands – using legal protections such as trademarks and copyrights — to prohibit the ‘pirating’ of their works. The usual legal response to a creative user was to send a nasty cease and desist letter, threatening drastic consequences for the unauthorized usage.
The new model is to engage users – using web tools such as on-line forums and feedback loops – to “partner” with creative users.
An example of the old model is Harry Potter.
When fans started creating their own story lines building on the characters in Harry Potter, Warner Brothers aggressively went after people who referenced Harry Potter on their web sites … That’s a great way to alienate fans.
Examples of the new model include:
eBay’s user feedback and evaluation system, creates an on-line community that is “self regulating” empowering users and enhancing the transactions.
Amazon’s user reviews provide value added insight into products and services.
In conclusion, the old model legal protections are necessary and important to protect your works and brand from outright “pirating” by those who would steal your works for their own profit. The new model approach to encourage user generated content can enhance your business.
If you are interested in strategies for engaging your users so that they become “partners” rather than “pirates,” we can help you define “contract provisions” that encourage and reward collaborative behavior for mutual benefit.