The future of intellectual property is 360° management. 20 years ago, I was hired as a photographer to shoot a wedding shower at Morton’s restaurant in Beverly Hills. The groom, whose name I unfortunately don’t remember, was a VP at Warner Brothers. His business card title read “Vice President of Bugs Bunny”.
At first, I thought it was a joke, but upon further questioning I discovered that Bugs was such an important entity, that he needed his own in-house representation. I asked for an example, and he told me that in the feature film “Who framed Roger Rabbit” he negotiated equal screen time with Mickey Mouse. He explained that to WB, Bugs was just as important as Mickey was to Disney, so he asked for, and got exactly the same number of frames in the film.
As more and more mediums appear on the horizon, and business models based on legacy hierarchies degrade, the ability for individual pieces of intellectual property to maintain their value is relative to all of the channels available.
Being able to recognize all of the opportunities, across mediums will take a new kind of management. Musicians cannot just depend on a recording deal. Their career may require giving their music away, in order to facilitate a performance-based revenue stream or vice-versa.
Specialists that are tied to mediums, are going to desire status-quo solutions for those mediums because the values and processes that underpin the culture of the medium are highly optimized. That optimized culture prevents those specialists from making a holistic determination insofar as the totality of the offer is concerned.
If intellectual property does not have representation, then there is a chance that the legacy value across all mediums could be lost. Bugs Bunny is worth a lot of money, not just to the film division, but across all entertainment media, invented, or to-be invented.
In the new media landscape, properties that have value across mediums need to be managed holistically, keeping all opportunities under consideration, hence 360º management. As property distribution becomes diffused across a multitude of devices and channels, and the tools of creation become more and more democratized, the value of managing intellectual properties, independent of the mediums they were born in, will increase.
Ironically, stakeholders in individual mediums will inevitably resort to fear, uncertainty and doubt to maintain control of their interests… to which one can always respond “what’s up doc?”