Copyright sucks. If we do away with copyright, we will have to rely on crowdfunding. Here’s why that is a good idea:
- Crowdfunding allows taking it slow
What happens when payday sits at the end of your product’s release date? You will of course want the release date to be sooner, since you want to be paid sooner. That likely means cutting corners. It also means an uncertain future, where you are working on a product without knowing whether you will recuperate your costs.
With crowdfunding, all of the costs of the product – or a particular stage of the product – is given upfront. For the creators, this means less worrying about financing and more effort put into making the product. Release dates can also be delayed, as already being funded means that you can iron out all the bugs without financial pressure.
You’ll piss off your backers, but it is the lesser evil compared to an incomplete product.
2. Crowdfunding is a guard against excessive profits
Look, kid. I know you don’t want to hear this, but Justin Bieber is not worth 200 MILLION dollars. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace is not worth 1 BILLION dollars worldwide. Profits in a system where media is sold on a per-copy or per-viewing basis are not a true indicator of quality, as there are bad movies everyone sees and good movies nobody sees.
If any singer thinks their new album is worth TEN MILLION DOLLARS, they can ask for it upfront and see what the fans think. I don’t care how good your music is, nobody will be getting excessively rich when the numbers are put into perspective.
3. More things can get funded
What if, instead of grossing $1,000,000,000 over a period of 10 years, the fans decided that Star Wars I was only ever going to get $200,000,000? That’s $800 MILLION that could be used to fund OTHER content creators. Your local starving artists would starve less, and worthwhile projects that do not get as much publicity would also be more likely to receive funding.
The end result would be more variety and competition, and increase in products within a market, as well as an increase of markets as well.
4. The production process engages the fans
Companies like to use things like focus groups, and questionnaires etc to sort of get an idea of “what the kids want”, but such sample sizes would be small, and the participants may not even be as invested in providing feedback. Even if the consumers are devoted, the company may or may not listen as they are in the business to make a profit, and they may decide on shitty things behind closed doors.
With crowdfunding, there is more consumer involvement because the consumers will have an active, vested interest in making the product good, since the money has to come out of their pocket. This incentive will increase the quality of feedback given for the product, and the creators will get a clearer picture of what the people actually want.
5. Realistic budgeting
In a traditional model of finance, studios might budget and plan the product and its associated expenses based on their expected profits. The keyword here, expected profits, a unreliable and inaccurate sum that can be modified in various, unexpected ways. The actual sales figures may be lower, in which case they will lose money on the venture, or they will quadruple their money – any excess profits just go straight into their pockets, theirs to keep. This is nice for the creators but not so cost efficient for the consumer.
With crowdfunding however, they can state directly in the funding goals, what funding gets the product what features, and they – alongside the backers – will have a pretty darn accurate idea of the amount of resources they have to work with and how far the backers are willing to fund it, allowing them to easily have a well planned budget.
Once the creators have a solid, well planned budget, it would be impossible for them to lose money on the venture. Clearly defined funding goals will also allow things like software to receive planned features after their release.
The abolishment of copyright has tons of positive implications for society, here are a few:
1. We can do away with copyright, and all the bullshit with it, part I: DRM
God, DRM. It makes software slow, and artificially incompatible. Crowdfund software, and DRM will no longer be necessary for the creators to get paid.
No more copyright also means no more licensing, and with it, no more region locking.
2. Copyright and all the bullshit: Streaming services
I love internet services like Steam and Amazon that allow me to download the stuff I bought from their services using their app and their servers. Really, its pretty great compared to buying DVDs.
But, when their servers go down I will lose access to the things I bought. If my connection to amazon is slow, my viewing of Transformers: Age of Extinction would be extremely unpleasant as the video constantly adjusts quality based on available bandwidth (based on a true story). I would obtain it from other sources, but bit-torrent is technically illegal because you are uploading in addition to downloading, and Somalian AK47 wielding “pirated” software could be infected with viruses.
Once copyright is abolished, file-sharing can receive the proper oversight and provide me with clean safe legal alternatives to Steam’s servers, and the media companies don’t have to bear the costs of distributing the files either. It would make the internet more efficient, and safer.
Moreover, file-sharing services that do not have the incentive to segregate Origin/Steam/uplay or Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/Spotify content requiring you to install 10 apps and register 10 accounts with 10 different services can compile everything into one big media-hub, easing the lives of everyone.
3. Copyright and all the bullshit: Derivative content
It should be legal to modify computer programs
4. Copyright and all the bullshit: Poor people
Students paying out the ass for textbooks. Scientific journals locked behind a paywall. Information and knowledge kept from the people who would benefit from it the most. Microsoft charging $100 for Office even though you only use 10% of the features, because the open source stuff isn’t good enough. Enough said.
Safeguards against crowdfunding abuse:
The crowdfunding money could be required to be kept within a crowdfunding account, where all expenses have to be direct and documented clearly to prevent corruption. Obviously, creators would be allowed to withdraw a salary within a preset quantity, and said preset quantity must at least conform to minimum wage.
Backers could have a chance to withdraw their contribution until the next tier/funding level is reached, after which the contribution will not be refundable, ensuring previously reached funding goals are not reversed.
And also, laws against crowdfunding scams. Duh.