Rhea Myers

Paying For Teh Frees. How's That Working Out?

Five years and several Wiki restores ago I wrote a sketch of an article called “How To Get Paid For Copyleft Art”. My opinion at the time was that cultural projects (or artistic careers) could be structured to make money using copyleft, but I was very wary of recommending any particular services for digital media.

Crosbie Fitch has been working on this sort of thing for a while. And recently some other projects that support different ways of funding projects have started gaining in popularity.

Kickstarter is best known in free culture and free software circles for funding Diaspora, but there are lots of other projects on there (I contributed towards the Mondo 2000 History Project for example). It’s an escrow or street performer protocol system where people promise to create or do something if contributors promise the right amount of funding.

Flattr is a micropayments service that allows you to add a donation button to blogs and other social media. I’ve started seeing this on blogs I read. There’s a flattr plugin for Android apps that might be a good way of getting funding from users of published free software.

VoDo is a peer-to-peer movie sharing network (using Bittorrent) that allows you to sponsor the creators of the work shared over the network.

And even good old PayPal buttons are increasingly being used to accept contributions in exchange for downloads. I just paid for a download of the “Jolly Roger” comic in this way.

These systems all offer ways of getting money in exchange for artistic labour that are sorely needed. But they are all proprietary systems run by for-profit companies, so the revolution will be monetized.