‘To the victors belongs the spoils’ is a phrase rooted in 19th century American politics but can apply to love, war and business in which the losers get nothing. In a digital age can intellectual property rights be retained by the creators of new ideas or does the virtual world ultimately make losers of us all? The web opens up enormous possibilities of access to free information, but it also closes down the possibility of protecting innovations from being exploited by predators.
In this era, managing intellectual property is a major dilemma for the relationship between producers and consumers. The former music download site, Napster, is a case in point. Its file sharing software allows very cheap access for consumers to a wide range of music, but for the producers, consumers, sorry, musicians and record companies, it potentially represents a permanent decline in the industry. You might say it serves these musical superstars right but new ways of creative music may not have been produced as a result. The music business, along with film and sports, appears to be the natural habitat for creative superstars. Until recently we had financial superstars whose creative sheen has faded.
But how do you manage business superstars who are creative? You may go to football managers like Fabio Capello or PR experts like Max Clifford for advice, but high levels of salary, status and indulgence can only be maintained if the creatives play and deliver for the team. The bottom line is that the evolution of the digital age and a rise in creative superstars may bring great benefits but we should look closely about whether the price of victory for the few is at the cost of losing for the many.
That’s my view, you can join the debate with the Open University.