DisneyRelaxesIPStrategyProtectionDisney is taking a more relaxed attitude toward intellectual property protection. One of the problems with modern internet technology, such as YouTube, is that it has granted people more power to engage in copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. Filmmakers, for instance, have often found themselves running ragged chasing down instances in which unauthorized clips from films have been used, even as part of a parody or a homage.

Disney, whose latest hit animated feature, “Frozen,” has shown up all over the internet, especially the signature song, “Let It Go,” has decided to take a more relaxed attitude toward this practice, according to Inside Counsel. Indeed it may be a case of "if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em," as the company has purchased Maker Studios which uses amateur video makers to create content.

The theory behind this move is that the use of these infringing videos, images, and songs actually constitute free advertising. It is a way to extend the Disney brand and at the same time engage fans. This certainly saves a lot of legal costs and aggravation, as well as presents a friendlier face to Disney’s fan base. However, there are limits. Pirating an entire movie and putting it up on the internet is still not likely to be smiled upon. The idea is to allow fans to give others a taste of a talked-about Disney film to entice them to the theater and, later, to buy the DVDs and pay for authorized downloads, thus filling Disney’s bank account.

Disney’s more relaxed attitude toward is not universal across all of their intellectual property. They are seeking to extend the copyright on their most famous character, Mickey Mouse, for another 20 years.

This decision was part of Disney's intellectual property (IP) strategy. Does your company have a strategy to identifying, securing, and leveraging your IP?

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