Ever since we heard how Nerve.com made some quick cash and grew their brand early on by licensing their content to a big German publisher we wondered if other content owners could do the same. Aleen Stein, Scholastic Software & Internet Group's Director of International Licensing, who has successfully licensed electronic content to more than 85 countries, warns these deals are much much harder than most people think. "I want to emphasize, this is not easy. So many companies say, 'oh we'll have a junior person do the licensing.' Others use an agent, but agents are only effective when you have a very knowledgeable person in-house who works with them."
Knowledge requirements include international intellectual property law, personal contacts within the global licensing community, a gut sense of how much content is worth on the market, and the ability to put together a highly organized product localization kit for licensors. In fact people with all these talents are so rare that Stein herself is often approached for advice and help by other companies (including some big name brands.)
If you can find the right staffer and are interested in making a serious commitment to international licensing, the opportunity may be huge. Stein says, "American publishers discount international too much. We haven't explored the limits of non-English language opportunities yet. People really like online content in their own languages. The Internet's early adopters were willing to tolerate English, but as time goes by the online population gravitates toward their own language. Sites in English are totally declining as a percent of the Net. International licensing can be incredibly profitable."
If you'd like to test the waters, Stein suggests you attend both the Milia conference in February and the Frankfurt Book Show next week Oct. 18-23 2000. BTW: Check out the Book Fair's site for a great online directory of more than 5,000 related companies.
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