I am not entirely certain as to how I’ve found myself becoming the crowdfund examiner, a platform that I’ve often criticized but deeply support the core foundation of.
If you are aware of many of the historic crowdfunding projects, promises and deliveries, then you know that ‘crowdfunding’ has become somewhat of a “black sheep” over the past few years. At its foundational core, crowdfunding is a great way for independent creators to earn capital to start their projects and a great way for the backers to feel like they have helped create something as well. But like all good concepts, BIG MONEY will always find a way to game the system and in the case of crowdfunding projects BIG MONEY and Indies can end up failing the backers be it through missed deliveries, scams, or financial mismanagement. Understandably, many potential backers are disillusioned by the platform.
Despite these fears, there are still innovators out there, trying to make crowdfunding work. I am going to discuss several different things in this article, the first being Fair Use, the second being Creative Commons licenses and the last being Tex Montana — a potentially revolutionary approach to crowdfunding.
h3h3 Productions, Google, Facebook, Twitter and the Chamber of Fair Use Disputes
I’m a huge advocate for idea sharing. I’ve mentioned several times that I believe most creatives can make amazing content using shared ideas. Open-source projects have been doing this for ages with development and many art co-ops exist for a similar reason. The way copyright was originally intended to work was for the original creator to earn a living from his or her idea and when an appropriate time had passed, other creators could build upon that idea. This is what helped make Disney so successful, though ironically Disney would eventually be the reason for the utterly absurd copyright laws that exist today. Regardless, Fair Use still partially allows for idea sharing to to be possible. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fair Use, this video that was made for children, does a pretty good job of explaining it in less than 3 minutes.
There’s a difference between idea sharing, Fair Use and content theft however.
These past few weeks we’ve seen a few incredible things happen. First, we got to witness the outcome of the Fine Bros copyright debacle. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn stock is tumbling down, a lot of it due to the building anxiety of content gateways and corporate intrusion into the users’ lives. We’re seeing an incredibly interesting regression back to old Internet, a return to the glory days of the individual and the power of the individual.
Two days ago, @h3h3productions published a video about an incident that occurred with a parody page he owned on Facebook. The unexpected outcome of this video and the drama that ensued afterwards, was very pro-individual and a win for Fair Use. During an incredibly Kaufman / Lawler-esque feud, a large conversation about Fair Use VS content stealing started that forced social media companies to reverse bad practices and an ‘understanding’ between all parties involved.
Again, I bring all of this up because there is a shift occurring on the internet right now and in order to understand where we are heading, we need to take note of the important events happening that are pushing this shift.
Remember when I talked about being a huge advocate for idea sharing? Well, creative commons is a fantastic avenue for this to happen for content creators. There are 6 different creative commons licenses. Typically most creators license their work via non-commercial or attribution. These are fine for individuals what want to use the original creator’s work but typically doesn’t allow new creators to make any sort of income from it. The Attribution-ShareAlike license allows:
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
To summarize, this allows new creators do whatever they want with the original work, except sell it as their own — as long as they credit the original creator. This is awesome for innovation, but few creators use this license because it’s basically the opposite of Attribution and Non-commercial. Some ‘creators’ find it’s a difficult way to make money (though they haven’t truly explored the potential of a free license).
The original creator of an idea gains support from the more people who share and remix the original work. It is a mutually beneficial ecosystem, but a scary one to some individuals who worry about money.
Which leads me to:
Tex Montana Will Survive is a crowdfunding project by O. HANNAH FILMS on Kickstarter. Let me preface this section by saying I know very little about the actual content of this film. I have seen the trailer and I honestly have no idea what the film will be like. However, the directors’ @mrjeremygardnerand @christianstella seem incredibly passionate about their work and the premise for the film seems interesting. Allow me also to disclose, I will be contributing to this crowdfunding project, though not for the film (though I’m certain I’ll watch it when it comes out).
In the introduction to this article, I talked about the usual problems facing crowdfunding projects. The biggest problems again are missed deliveries or monetary failure. Well, it seems that the film has already been completed. If the film is funded, there is no way for it to be misdelivered or mishandled because it is literally finished. I’m certain there have been many Kickstarter projects where the “item” promised was already completed (mostly corporate backed “indies”), but I have not seen anything like Tex Montana.
The reason I will be backing this project and the reason I think it is a huge win for idea sharing is because if the project hits its goal, the studio will be releasing it under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA license.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
This typically doesn’t happen, ever. It’s a smart move.
While in MY perfect world, it would be Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA, I can’t complain because it is going to take baby steps before we can get to that sort of mindset as a globally connected community. It takes guts to give your art away (even with attribution licenses) and I look forward to seeing the remixes and awesome content that will inevitably come from the viewers of this film (as well as the film itself).
I have faith that the art/film/literature world will reach a level of sharing that the open-source world already has. It is going to take innovators like O. HANNAH FILMS to do it, and while I’d normally digitally slap someone who uses the hashtag #innovation un-ironically, in this case I cannot and I’m okay with that.
Update: Looks like they are going to go with the CC-BY-SA and that is awesome.
Update 2: They hit their goal and the film is available for free. This makes me hopeful for future possibilities.