How to Make Money When Copyright's Not Protected

Shelly Palmer asks at today how one can make money from content in a copyright free zone like China. He’s in Shenzen, the town that’s literally a subway ride a way from Hong Kong, and has gone from a pig- and farm town with dirt streets to a bustling metropolis in less than two decades. (I saw the tail end of the pig days. If you think New York changes quickly and has constant construction, you ain’t seen nothing; the changes are stunning.)

Here’s an answer: The content becomes an upsell for something else. Hard to justify making millions of dollars of material as a marketing play, but it’s done very successfully in multiple venues. Bloomberg, for example, almost gives away its news product -- and did, literally do so for years -- to help sell its proprietary stock and bond market terminals and information. Reuters, now part of Thomson, also gets a minority of its budget from news, which it sells on its own but also feed its proprietary terminals. For, the editorial product gets membership and attracts ads, but it also helps attract users to the big kahunas: jobs and classes.

What, though, if you produce entertainment, TV shows or movies and the like? How can you make money from a drama that’s cost millions to make, and you want to sell, if everyone gets illicit digital copies? That’s a tougher one to answer. Perhaps, if ads are embedded, the ads are paid for even if the program is copied and distributed free. If you give the programming away, or make it tremendously cheap, the counterfeiters can’t outsell you. You can take a brand you’ve created and launch ancillary “products,” as
Disney’s done with the Miley Cyrus concert tours (no way to counterfeit a live concert). Add enough value to a the paid experience through a controlled distribution channel that people will want to pay for those additions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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