iPhone Apps

Torys LLP iPhone App

Last year I wrote a whitepaper on Canadian law firms and their use of social media. I was interested in finding out how the legal industry had started to use social networking and social tools to grow their firms. Torys LLP was among the firms I interviewed. They weren't afraid to take some risks and try new things before other law firms. They positioned themselves as a leading firm in online marketing and communications, and they are still at it.

This week, Torys launched a free iPhone app for their firm, marking the first time a Canadian firm has taken this step. It certainly won't go unnoticed.

Main features of the app include: Twitter updates, legal bulletins, lawyer and admin staff profiles, lawyer and student videos and a GPS office locator. I played around with some of the features and also got some feedback from a lawyer friend of mine.

Overall, the app is an impressive first step, especially in an industry that is generally a little bit behind the times when it comes to digital marketing. As with most first generation apps, there is always room for improvement. Torys might consider tailoring content and breaking down feeds to specific practice areas and also making the publications mobile friendly (they are currently web formatted PDFs).

If you are in the legal industry or just looking for a good lawyer, check out their app and leave some feedback!

The Least I Could Do To Prevent Theft

Least I Could Do is a web comic by Lar Desouza and Ryan Sohmer that I really enjoy reading. They post very regularly—at least a couple of times a week—and they make their income from selling print books of the comics and through ads on the site. From what I can tell, Least I Could Do seems to have a pretty big following and has let the duo live comfortably. Earlier this week, Sohmer wrote a blog post called "Thanks for Stealing" in which he expresses his displeasure for the fact that someone has created an iPhone application that allows people to easily view the comics that Sohmer writes. The maker of this app earns money from the sale of the app ($0.99) and from ads within the app. Sohmer's displeasure stems from the fact that he isn't seeing any of this money, and that someone is essentially profiting off of his hard work.

At first, I completely agreed with him. Then I read the rebuttal posted in the comments section by AsmodeusLore (clearly a student of the Masnickian school of economics) in which he constructs and airtight argument as to why Sohmer should not be concerned about this iPhone app.

The essence of his comment is that the comics haven't been "stolen" but rather "copied" (something quite different), and even though this app isn't driving any traffic back to Sohmer's website, it is still serving as a promotional tool for the comic. Existing fans are able to enjoy it in another way, and at least some of the new fans will want to know more and will eventually end up at Sohmer's site or buy one his books.

Read the post from Sohmer, then read at least one of AsmodeusLore's comments below it and see how you feel.

I think there is a huge opportunity for Sohmer to partner with the creator of this app. For example, offering to promote the app on his site if the developer changes the app so it links back to the site, or share revenue with him. Not everything needs to end up with a lawsuit or take-down notice.

So what do you think? Is it still stealing? What does this make you think about the "piracy problem" facing the entertainment industries?