Monday 21 June 2010

Funding and Flattr-y: new online business models under review

In "New Business Models Proposed In Debate On EU Culture And Copyright", written earlier this month by David Cronin for Intellectual Property Watch , both levies and microfees were again mooted as means of making internet users pay musicians and other artists for the dissemination of copyright-protected work online. The occasion for these proposals was a discussion, hosted by Green Party Members of the European Parliament on 8 June, on "how easy public access to culture can be guaranteed in a way that ensures artists can make a decent living". According to the author,
"Philippe Aigrain, a founder of the French civil liberties group La Quadrature du Net, argued that the fundamental premise of any approach to charging for listening to music or watching films online should be that sharing files is a basic right. ... Aigrain recommended a new system whereby each internet subscriber would be charged a monthly fee of 5 to 7 euros and that this would generate a fund for paying artists whose work is shared on the internet. According to his calculations, such fees should yield between 1.2 billion and 1.7 billion euros each year in France alone – about one twentieth of the country’s “cultural economy”.

The income would then be distributed among artists based on surveys of a “huge panel” of individuals, who would anonymously give details of which files they had downloaded. For audiovisual work, one-third of the revenue generated would be used for remuneration and the remainder to support new productions. Yet the ratio should be reversed for music, considering that it is usually less expensive to record tunes than to make films".
In contrast Peter Sunde, on behalf of Pirate Bay, described the Flattr micro-payment scheme (for a peek at Flattr click here):
"Under it, an internet user would give between 2 and 100 euros per month and could then nominate works that they wish to reward or “flattr”. The system would be similar to the “I like” button on the social networking website Facebook but “with the added value that you actually care ...”.
The article goes on to record a variety of attitudes concerning copyright and collecting societies that don't make very comfortable reading for what is perceived by many culture consumers as the copyright establishment.

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