Henrik de Gyor interviewed FADEL founder and CEO Tarek Fadel on the May 11, 2016 Rights.tech podcast on the subject of Rights Management. Read the transcribed Question and Answer session below, or listen to the 9-minute podcast at rights.tech/2016/05/11/tarek-fadel/.
Tarek, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Tarek Fadel and I’m the CEO and founder of FADEL, an intellectual property management company headquartered in New York. I spend quite a bit of time running the company and working with our internal teams, clients and partners, focusing on how we can best solve digital rights management and royalty management distribution problems.
What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with rights management?
Some of the biggest challenges we’ve seen, and are continuing to see, are a company’s ability to manage large contract volumes that are associated with distribution rights. So, for instance, if you take a studio or a broadcaster or a publisher these days, the level of detail that surrounds the distribution rights for the content or the IP they’re licensing has grown to be quite complex through the evolution of digital distribution. People are recognizing they need to be a lot more attuned to the changes happening in the industry because they’re affecting the amount of data sets and contractual data they’re having to manage. The complexity has increased tremendously over the last several years, in a multitude of industries. Whether that’s in publishing—and that includes trades, magazines, educational publishing—broadcast and tv distribution—with new distribution models through over-the-top type initiatives—consumer products, high tech, or pharmaceutical licensing.
With regards to some of the successes, what we’ve found that the companies that are taking a holistic view of trying to tackle distribution and royalty rights management issues are the ones that are setting themselves up to better cope with the ever-increasing complexity over the next decade. The reason being is that they are looking at properly defining things like rights attributes, contract negotiation points, pricing patterns across distribution rights, and royalty pay-in and pay-out processes. They’re establishing and setting a precedent across the different business units that are licensing and managing rights for the same property, just in different forms or distribution mediums.
I’ll give you an example. If I’m a broadcaster and I produce a particular show, the rights to that show could be sold or licensed to other broadcasters in other countries or other distribution channels. They could also be licensed through a consumer products channel as well as a theatrical channel as well as a publishing channel. So, all of a sudden, I’m managing rights in four different distribution channels, more often than not in four different business units, but at the end of the day, rights for the same property. Companies that are taking a more holistic approach to that problem and looking at it from the intellectual property out are going to be better suited to handle the increasing complexity of distribution in both channels and rights in the future.
What is changing with rights management, or needs to change?
A couple of things, from my perspective. Standardization is starting to happen. With rights management the problem exists in a multitude of industries, so I think one of the challenges we’re seeing is that as standards are beginning to evolve, they’re being adopted in different forms within each different industry. The news industry, for example, is adopting a standard know as RightsML, which is really based off an ODRL community language that allows news agencies to better license content, images and video from one agency to another. What I think would be helpful for the industry is to look at how much of these processes can actually be automated across company walls. For instance, the common definition of rights hierarchies—if you’re in a particular industry there are well-known, accepted standards around how you define an attribute—meaning a territory or channel of distribution or language expression—so over time there are machine-readable exchanges of rights information that allow for quicker and more secure licensing of content throughout the digital ether. I think that’s where we really need to go. That will simplify things.
Today, we have all these standards around banking and financial exchanges. OFX, for instance, is a widely adopted language for financial transactions, and then you have different vendors who support that standard. Once rights starts moving in that direction, I think there’s going to be a lot more of an opening for microtransactions to happen online and for licensing commerce to commence. An ecosystem where it’s not far-fetched that you can have libraries of IP with distribution rights licensable online, and people can bill for it or buy it and their rights thresholds are being met directly based on the commerce transaction that’s happening. We should be striving to get there.
What advice would you like to share with people interested in rights management?
Rights management is an ever-evolving space. It’s super exciting because it really is at the intersection of innovation and monetization. An innovator creating intellectual property and a distributor or product manufacturer being able to leverage that innovation and turn it into a product—it’s an ever-growing, complex field, and for people who have interest in rights management there are a lot of sources for them to explore. But at the core is the ability to create a wider distribution that is regulated for the innovation coming out of today’s companies.
There are lots of places to go to look for rights information. There are standards that are coming up that people can look at to better understand, there are multiple analysts covering the space right now as it is starting to really expand. What I find really exciting is the intersection of rights management with the overall licensing business flow. In other words, how to take a right and make it actionable and turn it into a licensing transaction where there’s a monetary exchange, whether someone is using rights to measure their outbound initiatives and collecting royalties based on that, or someone is buying or acquiring rights for distribution and then paying royalties based on that.
Where can we find more information on rights management?
There are several sources you can look at, for example the ODRL community which has set the W3C standard. There’s the RightsML standard that has evolved through the International Press Telecommunications Council, and you can find information at IPTC.org/standards/rightsml. Those would be some very good starting points. On our website at fadel.com we also have quite a bit of information, including blog posts and whitepapers that we actively write on a monthly basis and are very much focused on how to best leverage distribution rights, especially across different media. We have some interesting webinars that can be replayed as well.