How to protect your ideas in the digital age

Seth Godin, who has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 languages, is an in demand global speaker, digital age trend watcher and thinker is one of my mentors. I’ve bought and read his books, watched his videos and read his blog religiously.

I was commissioned to do an all day workshop with Jamaica Trade and Invest /JAMPRO on December 3rd at the Jamaica Conference Centre where I spoke to just under 100 Jamaican entrepreneurs of Micro, Small, Medium -sized businesses. I prepared a 95 slide power point presentation which was in demand at the end of the day. I pondered whether to just give it away, selectively do so or not at all.

So I asked Seth and my other colleague and mentor Gerd Leonhard, The MediaFuturist – he too is a blogger, global speaker, trendwatcher and ebook publisher. Gerd in a reply email said “My philosophy is ‘knowledge grows when shared’ and I have had a very good experience with that so far. I only publish PDFs though, not PPTs, and only use creative commons licensed images (Flickr) or iStockphoto.com or fair use stuff. If it’s free published I have never had a real issue.Cheers from Switzerland and let’s do something together in Jamaica one of these days;)”

I emailed Seth and asked him too, he too replied promptly and said…“I don’t share mine, because they have no text and make no sense..but if they had text, I’d share em.” So I followed their advice I shared my PDF Presentation…on Facebook, on Twitter and my Company Blog as a free download. And I more ebooks coming too and my roster for speaking in increasing too.

So when I saw his article on how to protect your ideas in the digital age. I cut and paste his signature end of article twist. Here it is.

So, how to protect your ideas in a world where ideas spread?
Don’t.
Instead, spread them. Build a reputation as someone who creates great ideas, sometimes on demand. Or as someone who can manipulate or build on your ideas better than a copycat can. Or use your ideas to earn a permission asset so you can build a relationship with people who are interested. Focus on being the best tailor with the sharpest scissors, not the litigant who sues any tailor who deigns to use a pair of scissors.

  • Time was… back in the day…

    … it was kindof a moral duty, as soon as we could, to commit our oral traditions, our scattered histories etc, to writing. To write it all down, so it wouldn’t be lost – so future generations could benefit from what we learned etc. This is arguably the very foundation of our civilisation.

    It was, and is a moral duty.

    Locking this stuff up with IP law may not (or may) be depriving future generations of what we’ve learned… but it’s absolutely depriving current generations. The majority of people on this planet can barely afford to eat, let alone pay for textbooks etc – and they really, badly need to be able to read textbooks. We need this.

    So I am of the opinion that it is now our moral duty to make all information accessible to everyone.

    This is going to upset some business models. Some empires will go under (if they can’t adapt)… but you know what? I don’t care about empires. The greedy and mean can look after themselves. They always do.

    The whole notion of “protection your ideas” is calamitously anal. Forget it. We have more important things to do.

  • Thanks for sharing Ingrid, I have a few questions regarding that. With our current marketing strategy, we produce a lot of visual content which if not protect some how may end up serving someone else as content with no recognition to the person who created it.

    One scenario in the early stages of our content development we tagged our photography with our brand in the lower part of the image then later found the images being used through the social media and websites with our brand cropped out. We revised that and did them with a ghosted watermark, which still get used but whether or not we are recognised for the work we now get it. The cons of that is, people sometimes complain that there is a logo in the middle of the photo. The pros we get our name out there.

    We have an obligation to our photographers to create a revenue for them through our brand, we have been able to do that time and time again through the use of our content in print and online because we make insist on being accredited for the work.

    If we can’t earn monetary compensation we earn through the marketing of the brand

  • Well said Ingrid. Thanks for this. I totally agree. I don’t spend much time worrying about IP protection – better to use my limited time creating new stuff. For time is limited, but your creativity is not. It really does come down to some basic spiritual laws – the more you give, the more you get being the obvious one. And yes, these laws apply in business and cyberspace!