An Anti-Theft Device For Your Ideas

International Herald Tribune: Five years ago, Brian Hoolahan started File-Reg because he decided there was a better way to “prove who thought up what, and exactly when.” A former television producer, he said he began the company with a notion of creating a system for people in broadcasting to protect their ideas.
Eventually, Hoolahan established four computer databases – Music-Reg, Science-Reg, Media-Reg and Software-Reg. Users can register information from engineering designs and mathematical calculations to sketches, medical notes, screenplays, manuscripts, music and lyrics.
After a file is registered, a “digital fingerprint” is made and attached to a digital certificate with a time stamp that cannot be altered, Hoolahan said. Registration costs about 15 in Europe and $18 in the United States.
So far, Hoolahan said, he has not heard of anyone using the registration in a court case, but he noted that digital certificates had been used to negotiate private clashes. Recently, he offered a lifetime of free registration to a songwriter named Steve Wallace, who sued Britney Spears in May for copyright infringement and had protected his original song by mailing it to himself. With this method, known as a “poor man’s copyright,” the postmark provides the proof of date.
The power of electronic registration, Hoolahan said, is “proof that an idea exists in a certain moment in time.” If there is a conflict later, he said, “The first thing a judge will ask is, ‘Who thought it up first?’ Being able to prove that is the hardest thing. It’s not enough to say, ‘It’s in my computer,’ because computer data can be changed.”

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.