Intellectual Property protection, or “When you know you are doing real Information Security.”

Hydra

You are about to read a blog on Anti-piracy.  But it isn’t “anti-piracy” in the way that SOPA, DMCA, etc. would make you believe.  Because let’s be honest for a second and admit to the simple fact “those aren’t anti-anything.”  Some of you are nodding, others are scratching their heads.  Let me explain this one point and then move into the focus of my blog.

The very prefix “anti” means the “opposite of,” or more to the point in this case “counteracting. ”  So by definition the word relates to the measures taken to thwart piracy.  You know: DRM, copy protection, encryption during delivery, or just “security stuff” basically.  Counterpiracy, I should trademark that, is what DMCA and SOPA aim to do.  E.g. They are pieces of legislation that provide a vehicle to enforce copy right after content has already been stolen. [Side note: I am not in support of SOPA, or PIPA, but I do like all things related to Pippa Middleton just to be perfectly clear.]  This is all kind of like the difference between Anti-terrorism and Counterterrorism.  And by “kind of” I mean "exactly."  The only issue is most of the industry doesn’t see the difference and labels everything “anti-piracy. ”  Which annoys me to no end.  “But you just said ‘anti’ also means counteracting, Franc.  So what gives?”

Good question!  And let’s once again look at the real world to help us understand the digital one.  If I want to “anti-burglary” my house I lock the doors, close and secure windows, put valuables inside of a safe, maybe I add bars to the windows, security gates to the doors, walls around my property, hire guards, etc.  We all know what to do, and we realize that if we live in a dorm vs. a mansion on an estate where my nearest neighbor is a mile away there are variances in what we do to secure our stuff so it doesn’t grow legs and disappear.  Having and protecting Intellectual Property is about the same, but there is a bit of a twist.

Unlike your personal stuff all-secure in your home/fortress, at some point you may want to share your Intellectual Property (IP) with the rest of the world for profit and fame.  Maybe this is the song you wrote, the film you created, the software you wrote, the formula for cleaning silverware without needing to scrub it, your cure for the common cold, etc.  And this means there are two principal stages of your IP Protection.  First, you have Pre-release content.  This is the time that is most critical in its protection, and for the most part if you were the government you might call this “Top Secret” and limit who knows about it and who has access to it.  Second, you have the Post-release content.  This is what happens after you have met with IP, Trade Mark, and Patent Attorneys and have taken all the measures necessary to protect your rights… e.g. Intellectual Property rights management and protection, which is basically what DMCA and other laws do, by providing a vehicle for you to use in that effort.  But where should your investment go for Anti-piracy?

Well, given our very simple explanation you should be putting your money into protecting your IP during the pre-release stage.  And it won’t shock you too much to learn that many companies put most of their funds into the post-release stage.  They seem to think that “anti-piracy” works in the same way that the Drug War should.  You go after the people producing it and somehow, someday, in fantasy land it will stop.  For those of you who believe this I draw your attention to the Lernaean Hydra and ask that you finally learn something from history and culture other than useless dates of events and the names for foods at ethnic restaurants.   If that hasn't worked let's look at the original meaning of "anti-piracy:"

Anti-piracy is a term used to describe countermeasures against maritime piracy - Wikipedia

Brilliant!  So if Anti-piracy on the high seas was done the same was as anti-piracy is handled in copy right, everyone's boat would be pillaged before we tried to stop the pirates.  Not so clever; the pirates win! 

Where should you invest your limited resources to create and maintain an effective anti-piracy program?  And what should, or shouldn’t, you be doing during this stage?  Let’s review, in this blog, what that stage entails and then you get the cliffhanger of waiting for the rest of the blogs in this series that address these the do’s and don’ts and provide you with some fun and fascinating real-life scenarios to use as ammunition to support your case.  E.g. no one wants to be “that guy” or in this case “that company” when a hard learned lesson is repeated.  And now on to the where you should be investing in security for your IP during the pre-release stage.

 

  • Your initial idea, the documents you created to show that idea
  • Your prototypes, R&D, technical documentation, etc.
  • Your final product, final internal documents, schematics, code, etc.
  • Demos, review product, etc. to subject matter experts.
  • Market research.
  • Your replication, construction, assembly, etc. of your goods (they haven’t been released yet, but you want to ensure you are the one doing the first release.)
  • Channel and market distribution presale.

 

If you have setup security in these steps of the pre-release phase you are already ahead of the game.  And in this series of blogs, where I will be teaming up with Gal Shpantzer @shpantzer, we will be sharing stories, experience, and our hard earned wisdom with you.  Join us, on this amazing journey through (sur)reality.