Attention is very difficult to get these days. Digital piracy helps spread the word and offers free access. Studies show that piracy is not harming the entertainment business. In fact, Netflix uses piracy sites to gauge what’s popular and worth adding to their service.
The record-breaking piracy of Game Of Thrones doesn’t concern HBO (see Forbes and The Motley Fool). Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said this about piracy:
Our experience is, it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs [subscribers], more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising… If you go around the world, I think you’re right, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that’s better than an Emmy.
HBO’s AdvantageHBO gets credit for each pirated copy. Downloaders want the original. A variation — say Games of Thrones — might fool people temporarily.
If what you do gets pirated, the recipients may not know they getting the original. They may not even care unless they believe you’re better (and know you exist).
What you create can be copied whether text, audio, video or photo. With 3D printers, physical objects are getting easier to duplicate too. If you can’t stop piracy, how can you benefit? Let’s look at three steps.
1. Make Something Worth StealingWhat are you creating that’s worth stealing in the first place?
What you do is likely similar to what your competitors do. You may follow standard procedures and have learned from the same teachers (for example, to sell investments, life insurance or real estate). Do your terminology and processes differ enough for a buyer to notice and care?
What makes you truly different? Maybe you have expertise in a niche. Maybe your background gives you an edge.
2. Demonstrate Your OwnershipGetting attention is a big challenge even if you’ve got the best solution. Invisibility hurts you. People with lesser ideas but more visibility have an edge. You need to take steps so that you don’t disappear.
When you put content online, you establish a timeline. You show you were first. A web searcher can see you were the originator. For this to work, you’ll need to publish on sites where users can’t change timestamps (e.g., on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+). A blog or website may allow manipulation.
3. Keep CreatingIf you’re a thought leader, you won’t run out of ideas. You’ll likely have too many. As you share your current thinking, you’re getting further ahead. The pirates can copy faster than you create but they can’t copy what’s going on in your head — your creation process. They can’t have the same understanding. How can they get ahead?
Our FearsWe don’t want our ideas stolen. Fear of our competitors may hold us back from sharing content that would attract buyers. Is that prudent?
I’ve had ideas stolen. Once, a vice president at a bank branch in another city sent out one of my blog posts under his name. How did that get through the Compliance department? I found out because a connection asked for my opinion on the ideas. I responded saying I agreed 100% and linked to my original post. I didn’t contact the plagiarist who ended up losing a client.
You don’t have to give everything away. Be selective. You wouldn’t publish your “secret recipe” or post your source code. What can you lose by showing your processes at a high level, publishing case studies or sharing your ideas?