Our Unexpected Journey
We did not set out to build a global tool for copyright laws, become entrepreneurs, or start a company. We were academics who loved our lives as academics, Ron looking into why culture looks the way it does through a corporate and economic lens, and Elizabeth studying the lives of the Great War generation. But life pivots sometimes. Elizabeth's archive work turned into a quest--a quest for the answers to the legal status of the archival materials--the letters, diaries, photographs--she wanted to use in her dissertation. That led to law school, to law students working with us to build the Durationator, and to becoming entrepreneurs. Ron's work helped us make the transition from project to start-up, not merely because he had an understanding of how business and law worked, but his work opened our eyes up to the relationship of the cultural needs of a particular era (ala 1909 or 1790 or 1710) and why law looked the way it did. We started to see the key "secret sauce" of the Durationator not our ability to turn law into codable flowcharts, but piecing together the historical and cultural puzzle of why a particular law (Benin's very moral rights heavy law, for instance, or Mexico's very long 100 year term after the life of the author) looks the way it does.
We also both come from creative backgrounds. We understand that protecting one's work--one's great passion matters. We understand being able to use works to create new works also matters. Finally, we see that works are both economic creations and creations of love, passion, and just fun. We wanted to create a system that met all of those needs, that was useful to both the hobbyist and the high power attorney for a content owner. The questions were the same for both. Sometimes we are creators wanting to protect our works. Sometimes we are creators wanting to use a short story, poem, or photograph within our new work.
We have written about our journey up until we formed the LLC: see “The Making of the Durationator®: An Unexpected Journey into Entrepreneurship,” book chapter in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Evolving Economies: the Role of Law, Megan Carpenter, ed., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012. (available at Amazon.com)