Sramana Mitra: If I were an app developer, and I wanted to mash up some Dark Knight content and use Dark Knight characters to build an app or game, today, I have to go through a proper licensing process, correct?
David Aronchick: Yes. There are variety of things you would need to do. The unfortunate part is that in the iTunes store, you’re always going to struggle a little because even if you have a contract with the studio in hand, it’s still going to be a pain in the neck. There’s no way around that. Apple is just too harsh when it comes to a lot of this stuff. That being said, there are many things you can do in the Android store where it’s more open, or in the Windows store or on the Web, that are still incredibly powerful experiences that sit on top of the existing data.
That is unquestionably one of the most powerful things where we are as entrepreneurs today. It requires so little from a technical standpoint to get the basics of your idea off the ground. A mashup or a single feature can be launched in a weekend. There are all of these cloud providers and easy ways to get things started. Once you get them started, you can start measuring data and getting things out the door and see how people are interacting.
SM: It’s technically easy to build an app over a weekend, but if I were to do something commercially, if I were selling that app, and I’m using a Dark Knight character or clip, am I in copyright violation?
DA: Yes, you absolutely are. That said, that’s only if you’re using a Dark Knight logo or clip. There are lots of facts on the ground that are not copyrighted. For example, imagine you wanted to launch a new movie research website and all you did was create a Twitter tool that looked at all the movies coming out for a given weekend based on the public information. Then you looked at everyone in a given area’s Twitter stream because everything is geo-located, you could associate them [with] movie theaters people might be going to and take rough estimates. Hey, presto, you’ve all of a sudden created a brand-new valuable movie research tool that would help people learn what the box offices grosses are going to be. Or say you want to create a community where people are able to come together and talk about recent movies and you pre-populate it with people talking about it on Facebook, which is open and completely mineable. That could be a new opportunity. There’s such an enormous amount of awareness for these new releases or even long-tail releases that are not being tapped into right now because people don’t have a place to go and engage. That can be a powerful thing.
NBC spent something in the order of $1.2 billion on the Olympics. And they marketed the heck out of it. Every one of those Tweets, Facebook posts, and news stories created enormous awareness of these pieces of content and things that were going on. The question is, how are you using that to leverage your own business ideas, whatever they may be, and use that as spillover to take your own company to the next level?
SM: This has been an interesting discussion. Thank you, David, for taking the time.
DA: It has indeed been an interesting discussion. Thanks so much.