Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Consolidation of Intellectual Property

Content is clearly becoming media neutral and king of many converging sectors. This broadens the opportunity to exploit the intellectual property into many more and potentially new ways. This then obviously creates more value. The key is who owns the license to the rights and how are the rights acquired can be maximized?

An old publishing rule was to acquire rights broadly and use narrowly. In other words get as many rights as possible such that you have them if needed but that you start focused. Does this approach still hold today? Is it part of the digital dilemma, where publishers want to secure digital rights and not necessarily fully exploit them all, but authors and agents are reluctant to give them away?

The one thing that ties all media sectors together is rights. As media sectors converge then the rights lines also start to blurr but more importantly the players can become interchangeable. Fascinating times!

Last year we saw BBC Worldwide acquire Lonely Planet. Irrespective such acquisitions may, as we predicted at the New Year, become more common.

Today we read that the BBC Worldwide are considering entering other partnerships with private equity groups and other financiers in order to invest in other media production, publishing and intellectual property opportunities.

It is sobering to consider how small and fragmented the publishing industry is in relation to others. This makes even the large companies relatively easy targets. This has always been the case but what is now changing is that one rights company could potential buy into another rights company from outside their sector. What they buying is another rights business with content.