Free isn't Working - Were you at our IP Event?

April 26th is World Intellectual Property Day. As Sir Michael Caine might say, not a lot of people know that. But a lot of people in the creative sector do know about intellectual property, or IP, because the creative industries are all about the generation of new ideas, and how to protect these ideas and monetize them is key to making creative businesses work.

Which is why we put together a panel of experts from different disciplines and backgrounds to talk about their experience of making money from IP, and which business models work best when it comes to charging for content online. Check out the pics, now up on flickr, courtesy of Paul Roland Williams:

Richard Foster, the Digital Director at Future Publishing, got things started with an in-depth exploration of the options available from free, advertising-supported content, to subscription-based services for paid content online. Technical hitches prevented Richard from showing us his presentation on the night, but you can download it here. He was followed by Evan Rudowski, the co-founder of, which helps those looking to build a paid content website. Whilst there is clearly no one-size fits all answer, both Richard and Evan were advocates of the ‘freemium’ model, whereby or a basic service is provided for free and supplemented by advanced or special features.

‘Content is king’, was the order of the day. The free content needs to be top quality, written with passion and authority, in order to attract subscribers for the additional features.

But content is not all. David Maher Roberts from The Filter, a recommendation and relevance engine for the digital entertainment industry, agreed that the quality of the content is crucial, but advised content providers to look equally at the demand as well as the supply side of the equation. A consumer’s readiness to pay for content will vary depending on their situation: a man needing a map of Bath is more likely to want to pay to download one when he steps off the train in Bath than when he is randomly browsing the web at home. And let’s also not forget the interface: a consumer will pay more to use a service or product that has a greater perceived value – just look at the success of the iPhone.

Tom Dowding from Mobile Pie recounted his experience of developing an app for the iPhone and navigating the turbulent terrain of charging consumers to download the product. His steep learning curve taught Mobile Pie the value of niche versus mass marketing and whilst the obstacles to publish an application for the iPhone might be low, the marketing and timing has to be just right to succeed.

Nigel Beaham-Powell is a Director at the Performing Right Society as well as an Associate Senior Lecturer in commercial music at Bath Spa University. He rounded off the presentations by reminding us not to forget about the role of the government in protecting our rights, pointing to the recently passed Digital Economy Bill. “Copyright is key’” He said. “It’s the lifeblood of the creative industries.”  

Withy King solicitors were among the audience at the event. They are holding some free IP clinics at their Bath and Swindon offices for anyone interested in finding out more about where they stand. Click here to find out more.

And if you want to read up on the debate surrounding online content: to charge or not to charge, check out .

Posted by: