Managing the ’emotional property’ that comes with consumer generated intellectual property (CGIP)?

The following guest post comes from Business Prof. Ian McCarthy and is based upon his is based on the research article: CGIP: Managing consumer-generated intellectual property.  Although I don’t like the label of “Emotional Property” the concepts presented here make sense. – DC 

by Ian McCarthy

Traditionally, firms have produced goods and services, and consumers have consumed or used them. However, consumers are not only using and consuming, but also increasingly creating products, services and related intellectual property when they adapt and modify the proprietary offerings of companies. Consider for example the legendary hacker George Hotz, who unlocked the original iPhone and hacked Sony’s PlayStation 3. He gave these innovations away free to the public. Consumers also create and publish a vast amount of informational content. Consider all the images uploaded to Facebook, the book reviews posted on Amazon and the videos on YouTube: all of this is consumer generated content ends up belonging to the companies. Regardless of whether consumers are changing physical products or generating information content, these creative acts produce “consumer-generated intellectual property” (CGIP)—intellectual property produced by consumers rather than only by companies.

CGIP has components that appeal to companies and consumers, but are also a source of potential conflict. From the perspective of the company, the focus is on controlling the CGIP and appropriating value from it. While on the consumer’s side it is about the credit and emotion associated with creativity.

These differences highlight that CGIP involves not just intellectual property, but also emotional property.

As intellectual property is the legal rights to creations of the mind, emotional property is the emotional investment in or attachment to creations of the heart and mind. More specifically emotional property is defined as the product of the affection, fervor and energy that consumers devote to the creative act, and the attachment and pride they have with their creation.

Emotional property is an important but overlooked feature of innovation management. As it governs how consumers react to companies seeking to exploit their creations and CGIP, here is a framework of eight strategies, the 8 Cs (cultivate, coordinate, cooperate, capture, code condemn, crush and copy Cs) to help managers deal with CGIP. The 8 Cs are based on whether companies are positively or negatively disposed to CGIP, and whether the strategic action is directed primarily at the consumer or at the company. Figure 1 shows how the eight strategies (or 8 Cs) for CGIP vary in terms of these two dimensions.

CGIP-Fig1Figure 1. Consumer-generated Intellectual Property (CGIP) Strategies

CGIP-Fig2Figure 2: The Emotional Property-Intellectual Property (EPIP) Matrix.

The Emotional Property-Intellectual Property (EPIP) matrix (Figure 2) plots the 8 Cs and shows why companies would adopt a certain strategy. This on the extent to which the company perceives the consumer to have either high or low emotional property vested in the innovation, and the extent to which the firm has the potential to control the intellectual property.

The 8 Cs available to companies all fit neatly into the EPIP matrix, but here I illustrate just two of the Cs here. Where the firm’s potential control of- and the consumer’s emotional attachment to the IP are both low, the firm can either “condone” or “condemn” an infringement. A nice example of the condone strategy is Sony’s decision to ignore a breach of its copyright in the case of the now famous JK Wedding Dance video. Jill and Kevin used a song by Sony artist Chris Brown as background music to the entrance of the bridal party and put the video on YouTube where it got millions of hits. Sony’s decision was driven not only by the fact that the video was just good harmless fun, but also because the artist had recently gotten really bad press and was in bad need of an image resuscitation. Where both the firm’s potential control of- and the consumer’s emotional attachment to the IP are high, a firm can implement a cooperate strategy. The website Quirky invites consumers to submit new product ideas to its site for consideration. If an idea is favorably received it is then developed into a prototype and in many cases eventually turned into a commercial product. In exchange for Quirky funding this development process, the inventor assigns all IP to Quirky. Quirky gains and controls the IP, but the consumer also gets credit and remuneration, which compensates their high emotional stake.

Read it here:Berthon, P., Pitt, L., Kietzmann, J. and McCarthy, I.P., 2015. CGIP: Managing consumer-generated intellectual property. California Management Review, 57(4), pp.43-62.

28 thoughts on “Managing the ’emotional property’ that comes with consumer generated intellectual property (CGIP)?

  1. 12

    The article mentions free software and the Linux Project but neglects to mention that IP creators ofter use IP to obtain leverage over consumers and users.

    IBM and the now gone main minicomputer firms (DEC, DG, Wang, and Prime) worked hard to lock consumers into software and hardware architectures. Thus any IP consumers and users generated was locked into the IP of the computer system they used.

    In the old days the sales and marketing people would call the clients cows whom they could milk in the long term.

    Facebook’s attempt to use its React licensing agreement in order to leverage immunity from IP lawsuits by React users is an interesting strategy for indirectly using consumer generated IP (that makes intrinsic use of React).

    link to

    1. 12.1

      IP creators ofter use IP to obtain leverage over consumers and users.

      Understatement of the year.

      But so “disruptive”! Therefore we must embrace it.

      1. 12.1.1

        I am already fairly certain that MM has neither legal nor prosecution experience. Now I have to wonder whether he has ever worked as an engineer.

        The traditional definition of an engineer states that an engineer can do for $1 what a non-engineer requires at least $2.

        A financial engineer makes $1 in profit whereas the non-engineer loses money.

        So what if an incumbent corporation claims some IP? A real engineer develops novel better less expensive technology which he or his employer can sell more profitably than the incumbent corporation. The real engineer also patents his novel technology so that the sloppy inefficient incumbent corporation can’t steal the novel technology.

        To take the locked-in customers away from the incumbent corporation, the real engineer ascertains that he can sell his novel technology profitably at a price at least an order of magnitude less than the price that the incumbent corporation charges to his locked-in customers.

        Thus strong patents actually lower prices and drive innovation even faster.

        Those that undermine the US patent system are un-American subversives weakening the US political economic system and attempting to reduce the US population to slaves of incumbent corporations, which will profit from them as the rancher profits from his cattle.


          It is rather clear what Malcolm “embraces.”

          The cognitive dissonance of that embrace is rather evident on most any thread at all that one finds his diatribes.

          Thus strong patents actually lower prices and drive innovation even faster.


          Funny though how certain sAme ones continuously aim for a different narrative than that.


            strong patents actually lower prices and drive innovation even faster

            Word salad on top of a bed of steamed b.s. Nice try, though.


              You use the phrase “word salad,”: but that phrase does not mean what I think that you think it means.

              The “nice try” here is your rather vapid reply.

              In other words: more typical Malcolm Accuse Others….

  2. 11

    This kind of analysis – and in saying that I give the word its broadest unreasonable interpretation – is what passes for academic discourse these days?

  3. 10

    I do not see why we need a new philosophy or law to deal with these issues. When you are using someone’s intellectual property you either get permission or you risk them suing you. The “emotional investment” is what you pay the company to get and what the company provides you when you pay. The enjoyment you get from watching star trek, for example, is not something you “own”. Fans do not “own” the products they are fans of.

    The computer gaming scene has had this issue for quite some time. People make mods for computer games and don’t charge for them. Some companies allow them and even incorporate there game creation strategy around the idea mods will exist. Others do not and sue to stop them. This is a business decision that each company gets to make. Your “emotional investment” in a game does not give you the “right” to make mods for the game.

    The mod scene also gives an other interesting example with the issues surrounding giving away things for free. People making mods started trying to charge for them – and companies started trying to help. The outcry stopped it before it really got started. Once you give people things for free – you can never make them pay for it again, they being to think they have a “right” to it.

    Something the libertarians have been trying to say for a long time. Governmental charity does not work – people stop seeing it as charity that can be taken away at any time if conditions change.

  4. 9

    The annual stipend for a PhD student in Carnegie Mellon’s school of computer science is about $32,400. The university covers the student’s $43,000 tuition, in exchange for the research she conducts and the courses she teaches. Under current law, the government taxes only a student’s stipend; the waived tuition is not taken into account. But under the GOP bill, her annual taxable income would rise from $32,400 to $76,234. Even factoring in new deductions also included in the proposal, the CMU document estimates her taxes would amount to $10,209 per year—nearly four times the amount under current law. That would slash her net annual stipend by 25 percent, from $29,566 to $22,191. […]

    Current and would-be graduate students fear that, were the bill to pass, getting a PhD in the US could become financially impossible. “I monitor all legislation at the state and federal levels that could affect graduate and professional students, and this is just—this would have the greatest negative impact of anything I’ve seen,” says Samantha Hernandez, legislative director of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. “It would be devastating.”

    Promote the progress!

    Meanwhile, the same people who voted for the (R) @-h 0 les behind these tax increases (the rich get huge tax breaks, of course) are over at Big Jeans place screeching 24-7 that they need more patents on …. methods of finding women to mate with! On a computer. S00per techno stuff.

    1. 9.1

      Your screed is appalling and has no tie to reality.

      You really should do something about that cognitive dissonance of yours.

      1. 9.1.1

        Your screed is appalling

        No surprise that you would think so, Mr. “Protest Vote Because They’re All the Same Except for Rand Paul”.


    2. 9.2

      The comment is off topic, but it seems correct and provides more evidence of an effort at an American Serrata.

      link to

      Education provides another means for black Americans to move into the wealthy elite, and white European-ancestry racists have gone apoplectic because of the Obama presidency (even though he was Kenyan American and not an African American descendant of slaves).

  5. 8

    Speaking of emotional, there’s really nothing in the world so amusing as watching a rich entitled white crybaby throw a shirtfit when his transparent and un-cunning plan to give money to his rich friends is exposed as just that.

    link to

    Time for Orrin to just do the world a favor and dive into a threshing machine head first. What a p@ thetic excuse for a human being.

  6. 5

    The Author states:

    “As intellectual property is the legal rights to creations of the mind, emotional property is the emotional investment in or attachment to creations of the heart and mind.”

    note a few of the conceptual allegations implicit in this:

    1. some creations can be creations solely of the heart and not of the mind, implying that the “heart” is separate from the “mind”, i.e. that emotion and sentiment are not mental or do not pertain to the mind, and implying that the “heart” whatever that is, is a faculty of creative power even in complete absence of the creative faulty of the mind, implying somehow that a person lobotomized of mind could still nonetheless create with his so called “heart”. This is not coherent.

    2. legal rights are conferred only to creations which originate in the mind and not the heart (see 1 above for an “explanation” of the distinction), which implies it is not only the character of the thing itself combined with the fact that it was created (rather than merely copied) by the author which determined legal rights, it is also particular manner of creation as though a painter who paints only with feeling versus a painter who produces the exact same result only by thinking about his stokes deserve a different status before the law vis-à-vis their creations. This is not correct.

    3. Through a “handy” combination of 1 and 2 and implicit in the statement itself is that some creations by their authors are not the subject of legal rights… this implies a denial that any legal rights to those particular creations ever existed… which opens them up to being given another label to serve as wool over the eyes of the less intellectually acute… to side step the fact that the actual rights would have actually vested and stayed in the authors but for the licensing agreement… after which one can do a PR song and dance about how companies “care” about consumers rights… (which they do not in fact have)… a fictitious property “right” of the consumer the company “respects”.

    Instead of admonishing respect for those so called emotional property rights, it would be far more respectable to honestly state that the legal rights have been taken by licensing agreement (which consumers agree to by way of the membership agreement etc.) ab initio, that the creations of authors (each of which has both a heart and mind…) who rightly have strong feelings (including attachment and pride) about those creations, vest in the company, but that nonetheless the company stills cares about (or will pander to) the emotions of the consumer in regards to those creations.

    It’s good business to care, and businesses will make more money if they do (which is a GOOD thing) , but there is no need to make up some fairy tale about emotional property rights which companies respect.

    1. 5.1

      I tend to agree with you that the use of the term “property” is inappropriate as to the attached emotione.

      Let’s call it something else, something other than property and let’s leave the term property to carry the full legal weight of that term.

  7. 4

    CGIP has components that appeal to companies and consumers, but are also a source of potential conflict. From the perspective of the company, the focus is on controlling the CGIP and appropriating value from it. While on the consumer’s side it is about the credit and emotion associated with creativity. These differences highlight that CGIP involves not just intellectual property, but also emotional property.

    Emotional investment, for sure. The risk for the user (aka content producer) is that the content hosting company goes belly up or is “re-organized” and the user’s work vanishes into the ether or (at best) into the Wayback Machine. Just another reason to back up everything online that’s important to you.

    1. 4.1

      MM, Congress has failed to act on the longstanding problem of many hundreds of thousands of apparently unexpired copyright marked publications, even technical journals, for which neither authors, publishers or current copyright owners can now be found to grant any licenses.

      1. 4.1.1

        Feeling in a contrarian mood this evening, and going off on my own tangent (without intending to criticize previous comments).

        (With regard to the main posting, having skimmed the linked article: the public can be fickle. I can recall social networking sites that were popular before Facebook, and search engines that were popular before Google. It seems to me that those big companies are dependent on the goodwill of their customer base, and surely the bar of public opinion is the most effective regulator for ensuring that big online businesses respect the legitimate expectations of their customers and adopt policies that generate customer loyalty.)

        I wonder though, with regard to the “orphaned” publications still restricted by copyright, is there really a “problem” here upon which Congress should be expected to act. Whilst the work is in copyright, presumably somebody owns the rights, even if that person cannot be determined; the public have no right to expect the work to be published for their benefit. So if the owner cannot be traced, so that someone can request a license to publish, then the public and the would-be publisher should just accept that fact and turn their attention to something else. And, certainly in some, and presumably in most, jurisdictions, there will be libraries that will hold the content if it is a printed book.

        “If you feed a crocodile, it will keep coming back for more.” Presumably the same could be said of gators. In the USA you have the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act. Similarly in the EU, about a decade ago, the major record labels convinced an EU commissioner to put forward a proposal to increase the copyright term in recordings from 50 to 95 years. The commissioner justified this proposal with a sob story about impoverished uncredited session musicians who would be reduced to utter destitution without the regular share of the royalties passed on by the record labels. It seems that the proposal of 95 years of copyright for sound recordings did not fly, and the term was only increased to 70 years. But no doubt the crocodiles (or alligators) will keep coming back for more. The documented existence of a body of “orphaned” works that nobody can publish because the rights owners cannot be traced should serve as a salutary reminder to the public, and to the politicians who claim to represent them, that intellectual property rights have costs to society in addition to benefits, and maybe the Framers of the US Constitution were wise in empowering Congress to legislate for exclusive rights for limited times.

        In the meantime, there is a wealth of “intellectual property” from the 20th and 21st centuries that can be licensed, and, perhaps more importantly in the long term, a wealth of public domain material from the 19th century and earlier, and maybe it is not a bad thing if wealthy businesses are directed to ensuring that the rich cultural legacy that previous centuries have transmitted to all of us is properly preserved and indexed for the benefit of us and future generations.

        My contrarian two cents.

  8. 3

    We have seen the effect of emotion on reason in patent practice and with clients. Some are far more dangerous than mere blog comments. For example the emotional attachment of inventors to their inventions or their products, especially where the inventor is a CEO, can lead to economically unjustified patent litigation costs, or now even attorney fee sanctions, as well as unjustified application expenses. There are also huge differences in the emotional attitudes of company managements towards patents held by others, and willingness to spend large amounts on litigation rather than take licenses, of which Henry Ford and Steve Jobs have been leading examples.

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