See Something, Say Something

It’s tricky. At FRAPA we receive all kinds of emails from all over the world, asking for advice about what to do when someone feels they have been ripped off.

We are a neutral, non-profit body. Our mission is two-fold.

We advocate for industry-wide good business practices and free trade, and we offer information, tools, and networking opportunities for our global spread of members.

But FRAPA was created to find ways to settle disputes between parties who were arguing about theft of intellectual property.
In the early days companies agreed to our mediation services to avoid heavy legal expenses. Parties had to agree to the mediation, and that meant there would be winners and losers. It was effective for many cases (see our History of Frapa for more details), but the world changed, and corporate diktats meant powerful lawyers would rather fight than yield to a neutral outsider.

Every day, somewhere in the world, an idea is being created, an idea is being produced, and frankly an idea is being copied. When a creator, producer or company works their ass off to get a show into the marketplace, nothing is guaranteed to piss them off more than seeing someone else out with a commercial property that looks, sounds and smells the same. Imitation in this case is the sincerest form of theft, not flattery.

In the past, FRAPA has offered both mediation and our format analysis service to help combat the issues surrounding theft of IP. Clearly, we are not a legal body. We are only as strong as our ideas, only as powerful as our ability to educate and persuade.

We do, however, represent considerable industry knowledge and experience. We have deep and wide international relationships at every level of the format industry. We are assiduously neutral, pathologically so. Until now, we only analyzed formats when we were asked to. But we can do so much more – and we need to do so much more.

At a recent meeting of our Advisory Board I posed the question to the wonderful array of industry experts, “Should FRAPA be more vocal about wrongs we see, even if we aren’t asked for our opinion? Can we cry foul? Would we call out copycats where and when we see them? Could we shame the bad actors out there who recklessly appropriate the work of others without fear of retribution?”

The answer from our collective experts: YES. WE NEED TO. WE HAVE TO. WE MUST.

I’ve written many times about FRAPA as “The conscience of the format industry.” As of today, we take a bold leap forward.

Guided always by research, analysis, questioning and dispassionate neutrality, FRAPA declares that when we see a wrong, anywhere in the world, we will point it out. We will use every means at our disposal, through our newsletter, through our membership, through our relationships in the media, to point out unfair business practices, cry foul when we spot a rip off, and publicly shame those we determine guilty of intellectual property theft.

We can’t legally enforce our judgments; we can shout from the highest peak.

But above all, we can no longer stand quiet when the world is asking for there to be some neutral organization standing strong as champion for the creators of original content.

We have seen what happens when industries let theft of IP run rampant. In our own industry, if companies large and small, far and wide, fail to respect the sanctity of format creation and ownership of intellectual property, all hell will truly break loose. The underpinnings of distribution and acquisition, the accruement of libraries, the exploitation of creative work and the proper remuneration to those who create, will explode and collapse.

Somebody has to say something. Somebody must stand up for intellectual property.

That somebody is FRAPA. Please join our mission. And watch our teeth.

FRAPA co-chair Phil Gurin is founder and CEO of The Gurin Company

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