a new marketplace for media

mediAgora defines a fair, workable market model that works with the new realities of digital media, instead of fighting them.

  • Creators should be credited and rewarded for their work.
  • Works can be incorporated into new creative works.
  • When they are, all source works should be credited and rewarded.
  • Customers should pay a known price.
  • Successful promotion of work should be rewarded too.
  • Individuals can play multiple roles - Creator, Promoter, Customer
  • Prices and sales figures should be open
  • Relationships are based on trust and reputation
  • Copy protection destroys value
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

iriXx summarizes for me

iriXx of copyleftmedia wrote a great article on copyright alternatives, including this nice summary of mediAgora:
The mediAgora project, initiated by Kevin Marks, demonstrates a new economic model which aims to provide a realistic and supportive framework for musicians to release their works while still earning a living. Marks defines mediAgora as 'a new marketplace for media', turning the established model on its head and redistributing the balance of power away from record company middlemen and back where it belongs, to the creator of an artistic work. Yet he acknowledges that promoters play a valuable role in getting an artist's work heard, and deserve recompense according to their contribution.
Under the mediAgora model, Marks defines a set of rules for the commission which his promoters would earn for distribution and publication of a creative work. His system is designed to work 'with the new realities of digital media, instead of fighting them', and so he suggests that customers can also become promoters - when someone recommends a work to their friends, leading to a subsequent purchase, or incorporates it into their playlist, they will also be rewarded by earning a small percentage on commission. Hence Marks states that 'there is no incentive to "cut out the middleman" and distribute straight from the artist either', as the mathematics of his chain of sales is designed to grant the distributor their full share of the revenue generated.
The economics of mediAgora are designed to work within a file-sharing environment, as Marks believes that sharing encourages sales. He is unwilling to use copy-protection systems, as he believes that this destroys the value of the work; instead he believes that the only way to encourage people to pay for a downloaded work is to make this process easier than a gratis download - his solution being to reward the customer. A person may play more than one role in the chain of supply from creator to promoter to customer, and indeed the mediAgora model does provide incentive for an artist to distribute their own works. But the most important implication of such a model is that the power is returned to the creator of a work, who negotiates the terms for promotional fees and distribution of monies. The middleman plays just the role which his/her title suggests, and is no longer in a position to wield oppressive contracts against the artist.
Copyleft licensing works well within the mediAgora model, which acknowledges that the artist, promoter and listening public all play a vital role in the music marketplace - and so may well offer a workable alternative under which all may enjoy their freedom to work, share and create. But mediAgora makes one additional requirement, that purchasers of a derivative work must also buy the original. Marks explains this as a solution to the question of how to reward a creator while permitting copying: 'Both copyleft and Creative Commons suffer from creating a hard separation between non-commercial and commercial re-use. This reinforces classical publishing models, which are designed around a hit-driven fashion business, with a power-law distribution. mediAgora's model is designed to work well for creators too small for conventional publishing to care about, but to be able to scale up smoothly. The model for derivative works is that you can create and sell one freely, but any customers who buy your work have to have bought the source work it is based on. This is similar to copyleft when both works are free, but it adds the notion of payment in a fair manner.'

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Business & Trust

Kottke's donut anecdote applies admirably to fundamental aspects of the mediAgora model: e.g. customers are not simply criminals waiting to happen, but potential participants in a trusted relationship. Donuts or music or film, most people aren't interested in cheating the system.

A while ago I was asked about DRM. This was my reply:
A few months ago, I purchased a digital version of an album that I liked online. I downloaded all the tracks, which were in a Windows Media Player format that allowed me to burn one copy of them onto a CD. I really liked that ability, because there were times when I wanted to be able to listen to my CD in the car, even though most of the time I'd probably be listening to it in the office at my desk, on the computer to which I'd downloaded the files.

Well, a week or two later, my friend Matt and I drove up to Vancouver, BC for the day. Somehow or another, while we were out walking around, my car got broken into. Fortunately for me, the car isn't particularly valuable and nothing in it was particularly valuable either, but that didn't stop the thief from taking my portable CD player which had my new CD that I'd burned in it (the player was probably worth $20, and the physical CD was probably not even $1).

Well, in one sense, this isn't a big deal. I can still listen to the album at work, where I spend 8 hours a day anyway. And, if I hadn't purchased the album digitally, if it had been a regular CD, I'd be out of luck; I'd have to go buy that album again. Also, it doesn't take a super-genius or a power user to realize that I can record sounds into MP3 format off my computer, so if I wanted to circumvent the Windows Media Player protection on that album, I could simply re-record each track and burn another CD.

The stupid thing is, though, that I shouldn't have to. The brilliance, the key, and the power to digital media is its reproduceability. However, for some reason, certain companies find this a huge threat. Admittedly, if someone took it into their head to illegally copy and distribute that media (and people do this), that will cause financial harm to a company. But all I want to do is have another CD to replace the one that was stolen from me. I get punished because whoever put the protection scheme on this album assumed I was going to behave criminally and use the album in an illegal way. Assumed guilty before I even had a chance to commit a crime.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Movie's power curve changing too?

Glenn Reynolds notes the fall off in box office and the growth of independent film, and the parallel with music, as I discussed in the Liebowitz piece below.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Couldn't put it better myself

As the Apple Turns explains DRM:
this is the way that DRM always seems to move: it becomes more and more annoying to honest people trying to use their songs/ebooks/whatever in legal ways, whereas dishonest people will always find a way to steal what they want no matter how much protection is slathered on top. But hey, that's what makes it so much fun! Assuming this all shakes out as rumored, we eagerly await Apple's workaround to the workaround to the workaround of the workaround.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Derivative works need encouraging too

Jon Pareles writes an interesting article about influence between media, and when one should pay money as well as homage.
The mediAgora derivations model simplifies this hugely.

Similarly, Lessig cites an asynchronous collaboration:

So one of the million things I've not had time to do while finishing this draft (answering a b'gillion emails is another) was to listen to this. As I described before, Colin Mutchler posted a guitar track to Opsound. Opsound makes its content available to others under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike license. Cora Beth, a 17 year old violinist, took the track and added a violin track. The result is this.

As Brian Flemming commented on the post, "a great way to illustrate the value of CC to someone who perhaps doesn’t quite get it." Indeed it is. Listen to this, and you'll can't help but get it.

mediAgora make such collaborations possible too, but leaves open the opportunity for the Creators to get paid.