What Jim Halpert can Teach you about Intellectual Property Rights.

John Krasinski, perhaps best known as Jim Halpert from The Office, has been criticized for selling his YouTube show “Some Good News” to ViacomCBS.

This lands on my ears a little differently than it does on some other folks, so allow me a few paragraphs so I can explain myself.

First: It’s John Krasinski’s intellectual property. So long as he isn’t doing anything illegal or unethical with it, it’s his business whether he sells it to somebody else or not. He shouldn’t need to defend himself over it. And since he’s chosen to defend himself, that should be that.

You can be disappointed. You can wish he’d done something else. But it was his to do as he pleased. Don’t lose sight of that.

Second: If you create something that resonates with people, you can expect them to eventually try to tell you how to do it.

I can’t speak for all creative people, but I can speak for myself: few things are more frustrating than using my imagination, time, and effort to bring something into the world, have it roll along successfully, and then receive unsolicited “advice” from folks about what I need to do next.

Sometimes they really mean well. I’m convinced more often they have an idea they like, and they want you to validate it (and by extension, them). You’re successful with that thing you’ve created, now why not validate how awesome I am by doing this thing I’m telling you to do?

Here’s a better idea: why don’t you take your unsolicited idea and create your own thing? Then we can have another great thing out there in the world!

And don’t tell me it’s because you aren’t creative! That’s a non-starter with me. For one, you already pitched me an unsolicited creative idea. Second, creativity isn’t complicated. I’ve explained that in more detail elsewhere, but here’s the short version: Everybody is creative. You might not be the most creative, and you might be “rusty” with your creativity. But you can create. So don’t tell me you can’t.

In the meantime, you don’t have a lien against somebody else’s creativity. They aren’t obligated to satisfy you first before they do what they do.

The Two Sentence Summary:

You have the right to be disappointed, and to wish John Krasinski had done something different. But at the end of the day, respect the fact that it was his property, and he could sell it if he wanted to.

To your growth,

John Allan

P.S.: It’s interesting to me how people feel entitled to do things with other peoples’ intellectual property that they’d never do with their physical property. But you’re better than that, and will respect property rights of other people…right?

*This post was updated to correct where I had previously talked about creativity.