By robert pratten, November 18th, 2010

Welcome to Transmedia Talk a new podcast covering all things story. Transmedia Talk is co-hosted by Nick Braccia and Robert Pratten and looks to shed light on the topic of transmedia storytelling with commentary, interviews and tips on how storytelling is moving into the 21st century.

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NB: If you’d like to give  us feedback, recommend yourself as a guest or suggest topics to cover – please email us at or Tweet away with the hashtag #tmediatalk

Nick Braccia from Culture Hacker
Robert Pratten from

Dee Cook, independent interactive writer
Tom Dunbar, producer of Resonance

00:17 Resonance
30:55 SWSX Transmedia Panels

Safeguarding the Future While Allowing Fan Collaboration

In this podcast Tom mentions the problems of allowing audience participation in a way that still allows for the Producer to commercialize the work and without jeopardizing future revenues.

There are a number of useful links to research in this area including:

1. the problem of copyrighting story characters

2. Scott Walker’s interview on Collaborative Communities

3. Emily William’s article on Collaboration

Recently I’ve been working with the international law firm Duane Morris LLP on a number of intellectual property and technology matters and after the podcast, on behalf of listeners, I emailed this question to Jonathan Armstrong a Partner in the London office.

How do I protect my story and fictional characters so that I retain the rights to all commercial opportunities while still allowing fans to (a) contribute to the work and (b) share, copy and remix it?

His reply was:

I think the issues around protecting the story would be many and varied and will depend on the countries involved.

If it were the UK I’d be looking at the following  4 simple steps:

1.       Firstly do a trademark search – you’d need to make sure when you pick the name of the character that someone else hasn’t already trademarked it.  If they have you might be committing a criminal offence and in any event its pointless building up a brand you might never be able to properly protect

2.       Its always best to check a shortlist of names rather than your favorite.  Its surprising how often with characters the one you like best is the hardest to protect – maybe it’s because subliminally we’re already familiar with it sometimes.  Check the final 3 and build protectability into your choice process.  Again you’re going to invest a lot of time and effort into the character as a brand – make sure you choose wisely

3.       Think about then registering your own trademark.  This can give you control over the character and further down the road might give you licensing revenue to support the project

4.       Even if you’re using Creative Commons make it clear what the terms are for other contributions or use of the characters.  This needn’t be overly legalistic.  The best way of looking at this is like the rules of a sport.  People enjoy the game more if everyone is clear about the rules from the get go.  All sports have a clear set of rules everyone signs up to.  Imagine the chaos if this were not the case (e.g. a batter refuses to be out after the 3rd strike, a ‘touchdown’ can be made anywhere past the half way line).  It’s simple good sense to lay the groundrules down and make sure people sign up to them.  The rules can include stuff like who owns the IP (including copyright) in the original work and any works which derive from them.

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Posted in Transmedia Talk storytelling transmedia

robert pratten Robert Pratten is CEO and Founder of Transmedia Storyteller Ltd, an audience engagement company and provider of Conducttr, an pervasive entertainment platform. He has more than 20 years experience as an international marketing consultant and has established himself as a thought-leader in the field of transmedia storytelling. He is author of the first practical book transmedia storytelling: Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners.

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