Like almost everyone else, I am a creator of content. Specifically a photographer. I am also very attracted to all things internet. And I would love to be able to make a living mostly doing what I love.
What especially fascinates me are all the new ways we are forced to think and new modes of operation we are forced to find because, in many branches, business cannot be as usual anymore.
I have thousands of pictures and I would love to see them used, rather than just sit on my hard disk. I don’t mind – usually I actually even enjoy – giving away stuff, no charge, grateful that someone out there likes something I created and asks me for it. But… the rent has to be paid, food has to be put on the table and all the old ways of being a part of society have to be taken care of.
Hence the question of money.
So I was very excited and expectant to attend the Salon organized by Creative Commons in Copenhagen on November 16 where the theme was “Forretning via Fri Deling”, Danish for Business through free sharing. Was I finally going to learn how to earn some money sharing freely what I love to create?
Free sharing. Like Free Beer. Not the bottle. The recipe. Aha! Small but very important nuance!
That was how Henrik Moltke opened his presentation (I’m paraphrasing). He is the European head of Mozilla’s Drumbeat projects and recipient of New Media Days Festival’s Prize of honour this year. He had a lot of insight into how things work in practice, based on experience. Then Simon Klose, a filmmaker, talked (with a very well prepared and structured presentation) about crowd funding through Kickstarter for the film he is working on “the Pirate Bay – away from keyboard” (see his excellent tips on creating a good crowd funding application below) and finally Parker Higgins from Soundcloud presented the platform for receiving, sharing and distributing digital music where the llicense for the data is always included with the work (as I understood it). If you would like more details of the salon, you can look here.
Here are my personal conclusions from the presentations and discussion that transpired that evening:
  • If you want to create something, be it code, or art, anything… just do it! It’s an open world out there. Anything can happen.
  • Sharing is good.
  • Sharing is the way of the future. That’s at least how the most forward seeing thinkers see it. And it’s not an easy feat to convince the rest of the world yet.
  • It all comes down to our view of the basic honesty of people. Our fellow humans are more worthy of our trust than we tend to think: even though people can take what you have, they don’t necessarily, as Henrik Moltke said. They want to support you. And that was true in all three speakers’ experience, and all the nodding heads of the audience too.
  • Crowd funding is one way of raising money for a project you might want to get off its feet. Here is excellent advice on making a good crowd funding application from Simon Klose:
    • Use video
    • Be personal
    • Be specific about how the raised money is going to be used
    • Make it short
    • Have creative incentives – like the finished product, or a link to it, or some fun merchandise…
  • Creative Commons makes it easier to share work, taking the lawyers out of the exchange between creator and user.
  • Chosing Creative Commons attributions can be tricky. Which reminds me of this article in Digital Photo Pro about Creative Commons in practice.
  • Although the NC (Non-commercial) attribution sounded like the best idea to me, thinking “if-someone-is-going-to-make-money-with-something-I-created-I’d-rather-it-was-me”, it was too restrictive and created too many complications in the experience of the panel members. It prevented de facto your work from being taken into consideration for use. (For the different CC licensing combinations, see here).
  • “There is no value in copy anywhere” as Martin Von Haller Grønbæk, attorney, digital copyrights expert, and moderator for the evening, said. Sharing your work makes the creator behind it get noticed, and it is this creator that will be paid to create new stuff – my interpretation.
As for the question I wanted answered most, here is my unchanged (since before the salon) conclusion: Yes there are new models for doing business, but not necessariy lucrative ones. We’re in the middle of the pot which is brewing. It’s too soon for any model to naturaly emerge and become a de facto standard. But then do we need a standard?
A few mentioned links that I noted:

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