IP and Digital Entertainment conference: Part IV

The final instalment of today's CLT conference "IP and Digital Entertainment" featured Iona Silverman (Baker & McKenzie), on the commercialisation of instantly popular online content such as Gangnam Style, One Pound Fish and the Harlem Shake.

Psy managed to take some $870,000 from YouTube advertising, as well as taking a cut in the advertising revenue from all the parodies of it.  Add iTune sales both in Korea and beyond it, and you have a large sum.  But the real commercial thrust comes from the side deals: he is the 'face' of Samsung and has made much money from other sponsorships, endorsements and television appearances.  So much for an artist who purports to have "waived copyright" in his song.

The Harlem Shake is quite a different format and concept which, so far as can be seen, has not made so much money.  The original has only become famous because so many people have copied it. Being a concept rather than a work means that it's not copyright protectable -- though individual recordings of it will be.  The dance track was composed by DJ Baauer who, by not enforcing his copyright in the original dance track, will have cashed in on subsequent users. As for One Pound Fish, there is little indication that the singer -- who was subsequently deported to Pakistan for outstaying his visa -- has been able to make any money from it at all.

At base, things go viral if they are (i) free and (ii) easy to copy or at least to personalise.
IP and Digital Entertainment conference: Part IV IP and Digital Entertainment conference: Part IV Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, July 18, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. I suppose the fact that the internet provides a potential 2 billion customers means the economics of it are different. A return of fractions of a pence per copy will still be a large sum if something goes viral.

  2. I've heard (possibly even accurately) that one of the richest men in America is the guy who came up with the system for processing health insurance payments, and he gets a penny for every transaction. Small payments for large amounts has always been a good way to make money.

    For a further (fictional) example, see the Discworld novel "The Truth", where the characters discover that the cheaper they sell the newspapers, the more people buy them, and the more profit they make.


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