My Library and Courses
Last Update: Monday October 23, 2017

Key Idea: Use Technology to Protect Your Intellectual Property

Steve Weinstein, the former CTO at MacroVision, and now the CEO of MovieLabs,  says that  technology will constantly be racing ahead to protect digital property.   More...

Key Question:

A: 

Use technology to protect yourself. Bob Tarcea uses encryption to discourage customers who own a legitimate copy of his training materials from copying the DVD that comes in his kit. Marty Edelston of Boardroom, Inc. posts a copyright notice on his Web site and tells customers how to seek permission to make copies of articles found in his publications which are available in hard copy and on the Web. Steve Hoffman at ModernPostcard.com places artwork on his site in a low resolution. This allows customers to select what they want Steve to print but keeps those same customers from using the artwork for commercial purposes.

Q:  What kind of technology is available?

A: Even before you look for digital protection, you need start by filing your inventions and ideas with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is easier than ever because of the Internet. We remember going to Washington, D.C, and searching the physical files to discover what might be available for us as a title to this show. In 1994 we trademarked, "Small Business Today," in 1995 we trademarked "Small Business 2000" and in 1999 we trademarked "Small Business School."

In an earlier episode, writer and scholar Michael Novak said, "Almost every business, almost every industry in America is based on patents, on discoveries. That's a source of wealth, and that's what I call capitalism, the mind centered system. It's a system which sees there is wealth in creation and invention and discovery. All over America there are people trying to earn patents." Before patent, trademark and copyright laws were put in place the primary source of wealth was land. More than 5 million patents have been issued in the United Sates since the first patent law of 1790. The system is working.

After you have filed with the government, take these additional steps:

1. Post on your Web site a statement about your intellectual property. Any person working for you either as an employee or contract worker should have to read this statement. You should require that they sign an agreement stating that they understand the nature of intellectual property and that they understand clearly what the property of your company is. Some of you may even require that vendors and customers sign such a statement.

You can see an example at www.boardroom.com. If you click on "Copyright Policy" at the bottom of the home page, you can read this company's statement. Boardroom says, "The contents of this Website are proprietary to Boardroom Inc., and are subject to Boardroom Inc.'s copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property rights." This is key because it is a begining point. It clrifies so that there is no ambiguity for any person who has any connection with Boardroom. To use any material one finds on this Web site requires the written permission of Boardroom.

We understand that much of what you do might not be on the Web for casual browsers to see but as you move toward digital* workflow, everything you own will be in digital format. Just as big companies have a public Web site, they also have the company (intranet) Web site that is available only to employees and some have Web sites specifically for access by vendors and regular customers.

2. Use Flash to make it difficult for Web users to "snarf" pictures and art from your site. This is the only format we know of today that serves as a barrier between the Web visitor to and the content on your site. If you don't know what snarfing means, let us give you some of the definitions we found on the Web. Snarf means "To grab a large document or file for the purpose of using it with or without the author's permission." Another definition is "to fetch a set of files across a network." And one more is "to acquire, with little concern for legal forms or politesse." Just reading these definitions gives an honest person the creeps. The very idea that everything you have posted on a Web site, even behind firewalls, can easily be taken by a techno-savvy person who thinks he is doing no harm, is outrageous. Therefore, we need to do what we can do to, in the words of Mark Litvack, "Keep the honest people honest."

If you go to either www.done.com.au or www.opsd.com you will find that if you try to copy a picture or artwork your cursor will turn into a type of stop sign. The sad part is there is nothing to keep Web users from snarfing your words. One way to look at it is you must have something valuable if people steal it.

3. Use watermarks to make what you post on the Web undesirable to thieves. Daniel Walker told us that some musicians use audio watermarks to protect their compositions. One can record a piece of music then talk over the recording to describe to the listener what is going on specifically in the music. Daniel might say, over the music, that he used six live players to create this piece. And he might add that the particular players are known for their sensitivity, etc. While the potential customer can hear Daniel's composition online, no one can simply take the music and use it.

4. Use low resolution photos on your Web site as they become useless when stolen.

5. Make it so easy for Web users to buy from you that they won't want to steal.

You think about it: Who is your technologist? Can that person learn how to use some of these techniques or is it time to find a new person who can make your site more secure and user friendly at the same time?

*What comes to mind when you hear the word "technology"? For most of us, it's computers first, followed closely by the Internet. But technology's role in small business is just as important as marketing and finance. Technology is the ultimate enabler. You can do more in your business and you can do it faster with less error if you incorporate technology in your everyday business operations.

Q:
How does a small business use technology in the business?

A:
There are lots of ways and many of them were only available to big businesses up until a short time ago. But new products and plummeting costs have positioned all of us to be more competitive in our respective market places with a minimum investment. We can analyze our inventory and learn what sells and what doesn't, in what quantities, to whom, with what seasonality, at what margin, and just about anything else we might want to know.

We can codify the intellectual capital of our organization, protect it, keep it organized and up-to-date, and easily search and retrieve what we need. It's all about the learning continuum, turning data into information and information into knowledge, then using that knowledge as the basis of the decisions we make in operating our businesses. Hence the term: knowledge management.

Our challenge as business owners is to figure out what data to store, in what vehicle (data warehousing) and how to access it in such a way that it provides meaningful information that is of real value to us in our business (data mining). We've used a lot of buzz words here; let's look at knowledge management and how it actually works within a small business. There are a number of things that even the smallest business can do to capture, organize and make available the intellectual capital of the organization. We'll focus on three here.

Establishing a Common Operating Environment (COE)
. Before you had computers at your office you kept documents in folders in file cabinets. Different people had access to those documents because they needed them to do their work. Sometimes people forgot to return the documents when they were through, and you would scout around the office until you found them. Sometimes two people needed the document at the same time and they would work something out, or make another copy of the document. The point is that every business generates important information, has processes that includes forms and templates, and shares these among a number of employees.

Now that you have computers, you still generate documents, you still keep them in folders, folders are kept within folders and various people have access to them. Electronic filing systems can be vastly superior to paper filing systems if we remember to follow the business practices we used in a paper environment. Do you have documents on your computer or network server that are not in folders? How many? How does that compare to the number of documents you would have tossed into a file cabinet without filing?

The good news is that at least (a) the documents are listed alphabetically wherever they are stored and (b) we can always "search" for them if we remember the name, or the software application, or when they were last modified. You think, "there must be a better way." You're right! And it's called a common operating environment or COE. In a business with a network environment, where a number of employees have access to a central data depository, you:

1) Establish document naming conventions. As new documents are created, they are named in accordance with organizational policy. People looking for a document would have a good idea of the document name, even if someone else created it.

2) Determine the file structure. This means organizing your information so that documents are easily located, and may mean creating folders within folders within folders.

3) Grant access as appropriate. Establish security levels and edit rights. Determine who can and cannot have access and the level of that access, i.e., "read-only" vs. authorization to make changes.

4) Safeguard information. Create back-up systems, both on and offsite, and disaster recovery plans.

If you do all of the above and provide training on the implementation, you will have established a COE. The benefits are enormous and immediate.

Using Databases to Work and Mine Data. Most of us couldn't imagine functioning without word processing and spreadsheet software in our businesses. We all use e-mail and a lot of us can use presentation software, some more rudimentary than others. Yet, for some reason, the database software frequently goes unused in the small business. A database application improves the way you organize, access, and share information. The beauty of databases is that they are relational in nature. This means that information stored in various separate tables by subject or task, but related, can be brought together in ways that you specify

If you use Microsoft, you could pick up here.

Digitize, Digitize, Digitize.   Maintaining our information in electronic form is critical to both the establishment of a COE and mining our data on an ongoing basis. Virtually all software applications allow for exporting data and importing data. So as long as you maintain your data electronically, you can take advantage of new software development in your industry without having to re-enter the information.

Electronic files are easier to navigate and cheaper to maintain than physical files. Additional computers and memory are just less expensive than rent, file cabinets and storage facilities.

Think about it

How far has your business moved along the learning continuum? Are you taking advantage of the latest technologies to codify the intellectual capital of your business? If you arrived at your office, and all your information OR all your money was gone, what would be more devastating to you? Now, compare how you safeguard your money with the way you safeguard your information. As you digitize your workflow, be sure you have adequate back-up systems with offsite storage for all important information.
  

Clip from: Protect Your Intellectual Property (IP)

Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Seattle: Economies grow when money is transacted for something of value. Theft kills economies and IP theft is a real pandemic.

Lying, cheating and stealing has been going on forever. But now, the other IP (Internet Protocol) has made it so easy to steal, our children and all sorts of decent-loving-gentle people think nothing about "borrowing, using, enjoying" and otherwise ripping off somebody's creative work.

In this episode of the show we visit with the lawyers who argued down Grokster in the U.S. Supreme Court. We visit with a small business owner who is being ripped off, a composer who is figuring it out, and technologists who are waging the war to protect our intellectual assets.

Go to all the key ideas and video...
Go to the homepage for this episode ...

Movie Lab, Inc.

Steve Weinstein, CEO (former CTO of MacroVision, Inc.)

Visit our web site: http://MovieLabs.com and http://Macrovision.com

Business Classification:
Media, broadcasting

Year Founded: 2007

Use Technology to Protect Your Intellectual Property

STEVE: So welcome to our video test lab.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Steve Weinstein, Executive Vice President of Entertainment at MacroVision, explains how it has worked with the motion picture industry to protect intellectual property.

STEVE: Starting in 1983 John Ryan founded MacroVision to prevent people from stealing videotapes. What you want to do is slow it down or add friction. How hard and how much of a barrier you're going to go through to copy something. That's the problem. The question is if it's very easy-- like on peer to peer networks -- to get music easier than buying it. During the first few years you couldn't buy it during the early Napster years. It was easier to get your music by stealing it. If the friction gets less to buy something or the problem of recording or stealing it is harder, you then go to an alternative.

BOB: We encrypt our DVD with something called CSS encryption and that really discourages -- and you notice I use the word discourages not prevents-- but discourages individuals from blatantly copying our materials.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Bob Tarcea is founder of Sign2Me. It's number one seller is a kit for parents called Sign with Your Baby.

BOB: When the mom puts it in her computer and tries to copy it, the typical reaction is that it's too discouraging and too difficult and they probably won't do it. However, the person who wants to blatantly rip off your intellectual property certainly has those same tools--which are not necessarily good or bad-- but they can use those tools to break our encryption.

STEVE: Your house has windows and door locks. It doesn't prevent somebody from robbing your home but it kind of stops the majority of people from robbing your home. That's the same idea with copy protection or rights management. You increase the barriers to stealing and decrease the barriers to sharing or using it in a legal manner.

MacroVision is copy protection or rights limiting, it is not an encryption. So the discs are not encrypted. It is just that when you put a DVD into a player, a signal comes out telling the next person down the line that they should not copy it. When you get into the digital realm like PC ripping tools that's a little more problematic.

HATTIE: We're talking about pirating software or pirating a game?

STEVE: Pirating games, pirating videos, pirating music off the PC. Now it becomes a little more problematic. Everybody's fighting you and trying to get the content free.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Many small business sites, like done.com.au use protection that makes it difficult for users to snarf words or pictures.

STEVE: Things like Microsoft Windows and Adobe Photoshop and products like that are stolen multiple times. So for every one copy there might be 3 or 4 illegal copies.

 






STEVE: So welcome to our video test lab.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Steve Weinstein, Executive Vice President of Entertainment at MacroVision, explains how it has worked with the motion picture industry to protect intellectual property.

STEVE: Starting in 1983 John Ryan founded MacroVision to prevent people from stealing videotapes. What you want to do is slow it down or add friction. How hard and how much of a barrier you're going to go through to copy something. That's the problem. The question is if it's very easy-- like on peer to peer networks -- to get music easier than buying it. During the first few years you couldn't buy it during the early Napster years. It was easier to get your music by stealing it. If the friction gets less to buy something or the problem of recording or stealing it is harder, you then go to an alternative.

BOB: We encrypt our DVD with something called CSS encryption and that really discourages -- and you notice I use the word discourages not prevents-- but discourages individuals from blatantly copying our materials.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Bob Tarcea is founder of Sign2Me. It's number one seller is a kit for parents called Sign with Your Baby.

BOB: When the mom puts it in her computer and tries to copy it, the typical reaction is that it's too discouraging and too difficult and they probably won't do it. However, the person who wants to blatantly rip off your intellectual property certainly has those same tools--which are not necessarily good or bad-- but they can use those tools to break our encryption.

STEVE: Your house has windows and door locks. It doesn't prevent somebody from robbing your home but it kind of stops the majority of people from robbing your home. That's the same idea with copy protection or rights management. You increase the barriers to stealing and decrease the barriers to sharing or using it in a legal manner.

MacroVision is copy protection or rights limiting, it is not an encryption. So the discs are not encrypted. It is just that when you put a DVD into a player, a signal comes out telling the next person down the line that they should not copy it. When you get into the digital realm like PC ripping tools that's a little more problematic.

HATTIE: We're talking about pirating software or pirating a game?

STEVE: Pirating games, pirating videos, pirating music off the PC. Now it becomes a little more problematic. Everybody's fighting you and trying to get the content free.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Many small business sites, like done.com.au use protection that makes it difficult for users to snarf words or pictures.

STEVE: Things like Microsoft Windows and Adobe Photoshop and products like that are stolen multiple times. So for every one copy there might be 3 or 4 illegal copies.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!