[cc-community] Ubiquitous funding system for free culture projects?
danny.piccirillo at member.fsf.org
Fri Jun 4 01:36:05 EDT 2010
I've been thinking about this idea for a while, and since a related
been posted for Reddit's upcoming interview with Richard Stallman, i
thought i'd finally make a post. The idea is basically to create a fully
featured funding platform so that sites like Jamendo.com don't have to
duplicate efforts enabling people to support works they appreciate. Please
let me know what you think
The free culture movement, which is of a whole with the free software
movement, has made a lot of great progress but is still struggling to prove
itself to be economically viable in the mainstream. I might even go so far
as to say that a lack of a better funding system is the single biggest thing
holding back many existing and many more prospective free culture projects.
Imagine if Add/Remove Applications and the Ubuntu Software Center prompted
downloaders with a "Donate" button that enabled users to easily support
projects. Imagine if last— ahem— libre.fm displayed the same button for
artists. Imagine if the idea of giving in order to support the production of
work you appreciate went from public appeal to the public's expectation.
Currently the Software Freedom Conservancy exists as a fiscal sponsor for
free software projects which "provides member projects with free financial
and administrative services, but does not involve itself with technological
and artistic decisions." In short, member projects get the protections of a
corporate entity without actually having to form and maintain one.
> By joining the Conservancy, member FOSS projects obtain the benefits of a
> formal legal structure while keeping themselves focused on software
> development. These benefits include, most notably, the ability to collect
> earmarked project donations and protection from personal liability for the
> developers of the project. Another benefit of joining the Conservancy is
> that projects can use it to hold assets, which are managed by the
> Conservancy on behalf of and at the direction of the project. The
> Conservancy is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, so member projects can
> receive tax-deductible donations to the extent allowed by law.
The grander vision that is needed for free culture would require the
infrastructure to scale plus provide more features. The primary motivation
for this system would be more broad: to support free culture by providing
free financial and administrative services to projects. This
pay-what-you-want app store of sorts would differ from what the Software
Freedom Conservancy offers in two ways.
Firstly, it would not be exclusive to software, but any free cultural works.
It might even make sense to welcome non free culture projects to join, but
perhaps only provide full benefits to verified free culture projects. For
example, donations to non free culture projects may not be tax deductible,
and/or a 10% fee on donations could apply to donations towards unverified
projects while verified and approved free culture projects receive the full
benefits of the program for free. Then again, an approval system might be
hard to scale, and this being a funding system project, it could of course
be used to fund itself.
Secondly, and this is the ambitious part, the platform would need to make
the process streamlined so that any project could join. It should be
developed as a free and, if possible, federated service. This service should
allow projects to collect donations through a variety of means. Projects
should be able to display buttons or widgets on their own website, and it
should be possible, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, for desktop
applications like Add/Remove Applications and the Ubuntu Software Center to
display "donate" buttons. Beyond basic one-time donation functionality,
support could also be added for fundraising campaigns with a set goal (think
Kickstarter) and repeating contributions for subscriptions.
If such a system were in place which provided programmers, writers, and
artists a platform to easily accept donations directly from their followers,
free culture projects will be able to expand and prove viable on a much,
much larger scale. So, who do you think has the resources for such a
project? Which organizations would be interested in contributing?
☮♥Ⓐ - http://www.google.com/profiles/danny.piccirillo
Every (in)decision matters.
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