Who owns A storytelling?

By Limor Shiponi


  • Is not property
  • Has no fixed physical expression
  • It is not an idea
  • Nor does it manifest digitally
  • It is not copyright protected
  • Its main inspiration is life
  • Utilitarian or fact? No. So…

What is the ownership model of storytelling?


20 thoughts on “Who owns A storytelling?”

  1. If it’s truly a co-creative endeavor, then logically each storytelling event should belong to everyone involved, teller and audience alike.
    Practically unenforceable, of course…
    More interested in the implications of the question, actually.
    Why does everything have to ‘belong’ to anyone?
    Why is collective ownership such a difficult concept for us?
    Philosophically, ownership can be held to confer certain rights, privileges and also (often forgotten or ignored) responsibilities…but in common discourse is more often the prelude to exploitation of one form or another, so if the question can be sensibly answered, what follows?
    I don’t really know, just got questions, that’s all…

      1. Could it be that one of the diagnostic criteria for true storytelling is that there’s no sensible/practical answer to this question?
        One in the eye for all those marketeers, if so. Shame…(not grinning at all, really)

        1. Aha, you might be reading my mind on this one πŸ™‚ The serious part is the fact it is a diagnostic criteria, though one might not be enough.

  2. Devil’s advocate here.
    A storytelling event may not have a fixed physical expression, but a recording of it does. What if you tell a story at an event and the event producers record it and sell it?
    What if I hear your story on that recording (or at the event) and decide to tell it at another event, perhaps for money? What if it is your story about your grandmother and I tell it as if it is about mine? What if it is a traditional tale in the public domain but you have done loads of research and crafted a particular version, rich with your own understanding and humor and interpretation of meaning? What if I want to tell that? Do you own it?
    Just wondering.

    1. Hi Gail, thanks for the possibility to continue wondering with you.

      Do we consider the recording of a storytelling event to be storytelling?
      Is that recorded-my-telling producer selling storytelling?
      Do you consider the story you took from me to be storytelling?
      If they pay you for telling it, is the answer to the above different? Do you now own A storytelling that I owned? Will the fact I’ve put a lot into it change your answer?
      Is the question “who owns A storytelling” different from “who owns the way a story is told”?
      Still wondering.

      1. Hmm…lots of layers here, interesting..
        The first one is easy, as far as I’m concerned – a recording of a storytelling performance is just that – a recording. It’s not, and never will be, storytelling in the true and proper sense of the word because it cannot replicate the co-creative nature of that particular telling with that particular audience.
        What it is is something different, something new that deserves to be considered for its own sake, and regarded as such.
        This distinction is important for two reasons; firstly because it requires a completely different set of answers to the ‘who owns this?’ question, and secondly because it means that practitioners and audiences need to recognise that difference and structure material and they way it’s performed accordingly.
        The youtube revolution may have changed the way that we access media (and to some extent create it) but any media professional will tell you that to produce good results in any media you need to design and create with the characteristics of that media very firmly in mind.
        I’ve nothing against appropriate and effective use of media, but the current flood of ‘stick a video in front of a storytellling performance and bung it on the web’ clips that seems to be every one looks frankly worries the hell out of me.
        Partly because the technical quality is so variable, but mainly ‘cos it’s a rubbish way of showing ;people what storytelling is, as it misses out the most important part of the experience.

        1. Allan, would you mind if I quote this comment as an opening to a new post about this issue? Preferably, would you be willing to write a guest post about it?

          1. Thanks for asking, will happily write a guest post for you – would that be about the ‘who owns a storytelling’ question, or something about storytelling videos? Might take me a few days, if that’s ok πŸ™‚

          2. Great, I’m excited. If I can quote you, the liberty to choose what the post will be about is completely yours. Finally, I will have a post written in proper English… take as much time as you need.

  3. There’s nothing improper about your English, Limor, I couldn’t do what you do in a second language…but thanks anyway.

    This will be my first guest post – (excited, thinking hard..) honoured to be doing it for you πŸ™‚

  4. A true telling – told from the heart is the property of creation and is held by all in common ownership – though only the teller may hold the right to tell a story. A storytelling requires an audience and their ownership of the experience makes the telling a communal event. Each audience defines the performance – just as the teller defines the story in the telling. But also the story defines all.

    1. Hi Eric. Rather than the teller holding the right to tell, I see it as an appointment on behalf of the community; hence, my tendency to call a storyteller – a messenger, like a leader in prayer. Common ownership it is and as said before – a difficult idea for many to grasp. I wonder if there is a way to infiltrate this idea into minds that refuse the concept and buzz ‘storytelling’ all the time…

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