Freedom of Information vs Deriving Value / Monetization for Artists


Continuing the discussion from What Protects Users of the Network From Illegal Content Being Traced to Their Computer?:

Blindsite2k, are you familiar with Who Owns The Future by Jaron Lanier? It’s a great book that gets into this idea. At the core, he argues the “free information” movement was a nice idea in the past, until technology advances that most things fall under the umbrella of “information.” Before, industry subsidized the freedom of information movement. But in a society where information is everything (advent of 3D printing, movies, music, books, etc) and there’s no distribution cost, the value is needs a new form, it shouldn’t be free. It’s also silly to think you’re entitled to be the one to derive its value.

A: I want The Avengers. I like it, I’d be willing to throw the creators 5 dollars.
B: But it cost $225,000,000. You really need to pay us like 14 for it, otherwise we all lost money.
A: Oh, that much? Well, I’m not willing to pay that.
B: That’s fine. Next!
A: Wait, but I still want it.
B: Then pay us.

The key part in there is YOU STILL WANT IT. So it has more value than you thought, but less than you were willing to pay. So you pay more. That’s how free markets work. Not “I’ll take your product, use it, and then give you whatever I think you deserve.” That’s not a free market. That’s unsustainable.

What Ben (and I) are proposing is a new system where cost is generated fairly, where craft can have a measurable value and studios don’t dictate worth down the chain. Where content creators can include production costs in their valuation, and set their own prices on a network where payment is just a quick click.

I agree with you that we’re not stopping piracy and free distribution of content. But I am saying you’re the antagonist in this Campbellian monomyth, not the hero. This will be an ongoing discussion forever. In the case of movies/books/TV/etc, “free information” advocates leech off people who subsidize the value for them, otherwise these media would not exist. I can’t understand the other side in this case, except to believe you think that “people who create art have no value,” which seems paradoxical when they are creating networks to exchange their works. It’s like they’re fighting a war they don’t understand.

I guess what I’m getting at is, I don’t quite get your end goal, but from what I can gather, it sounds pretty dystopian.

Files with imbedded wallets

I’m pretty sure he was essentially arguing that no matter the tools we create on Safenet, people will still pirate if they can pirate, and people will pay for content if they want to pay for content. While we can hope to create a platform that rights the wrongs of Internet history, we can’t force anything on anyone.

I’m in agreement with Lanier that the early history of the Internet made paying for content unpopular. The ‘Information wants to be free’ mindset has perverted how we value content–reversing that mindset is a huge project which will not happen the second someone switches on their MaidSafe client, but the project can help to educate people about the problem. We’re all in this together, aye?


One thing is for sure: if no-one builds a project that offers alternatives to explore this hard question, then yes for sure the SAFE network is already going to be used to make public shares of pirated content. The network is perfectly capable of it, so it’s bound to happen. It’s not what comes to my mind as the best use of world changing technology, but it’s open and free and we are not going to stop you.

I figure, if you are willing to share your MSID on the traditional internet. Police might be able to track who posted that MSID, request access by court order to your MAID, and if they then find it is indeed your MSID; the proof is solid that you deliberately stole and distributed content illegally. Of course it won’t take long before more intricate systems with fast changing MSIDs are figured out, so the cat and mouse game will continue.

It’s an uphill battle, but I feel the best thing we can do as a community is to provide a constructive answer for ‘copyright in a new age’


Exactly. I don’t think anyone believes you can stamp out piracy. But you can battle it by offering superior products.

I do get a little fired up when I hear piracy touted as some sophomoric virtue, though.


Irony: Posting about piracy on an open source forum, about an open source network, which was crowd funded to the tune of several million pounds.

It is up to entrepreneurs to find ways to earn money in a free market. The low cost of reproduction never justifies the use of violence.


Traktion, [quote=“Traktion, post:5, topic:189”]
The low cost of reproduction never justifies the use of violence.

I don’t think anyone disagreed with this. You’re maybe inferring. But do I think you should be fined for consuming someone’s product without compensating them for it? Yes.

I was hoping to discuss ways to promote getting content creators money for their work. Irony and snark aren’t constructive.

I take issue with people enjoying and using a thing without actually compensating the creators for their work (I do not mean donating to someone because we, as the public, don’t actually know what the process was in it’s creation. Giving Joss Whedon 20 dollars for “The Avengers” does more harm than good).


Also, all due respect, I doubt there’s any better place to post about this. Building a smart contract monetization system on an open source network sounds like the future to me.

No one is saying you can’t keep stealing from artists, but I’m curious how to use this new network to “earn money in a free market.” As are a lot of new filmmakers and content creators.


Calling copying things names like ‘theft’, ‘stealing’ and ‘piracy’ isn’t constructive either.

No one forces someone to release work freely. It is a choice of the content creator.

There are many ways to fund works which don’t lean on the state and its threats. Crowd funding, subscription, advertising, donations, live performances, etc, are some alternatives.

I am keen to discuss ways in which content creators can profit, but lets call a spade a spade too.


Is there another term that we could use in the interim to describe the act of “making a copy of something that the creator explicitly requested not be copied, viewed it (as viewing is the consumption of the product), and then didn’t compensate the creator for said consumption?” Because I think piracy is strictly used as the cleanest and fastest way to convey these ideas.


We’re also in agreement here. We need a system that promotes the work in a way that makes it more inviting than stealing it, because I think people, for the most part, want to pay for things. What I don’t think is a good idea is people just making numbers up on what they think something is worth. Creators need to lead the discussion there.

So I think building some sort of streaming system where you pay for what you watch in micropayments could work. Then that money is sent, by smart contracts build in advance by executives/producers/content-creators, to everyone above the line to compensate them in the same way royalties work. Something like that. I guess not dissimilar to how Popcorn Time is working. Let the content creator determine how much he believes his work is worth. Then if people turn to piracy, play with the gauge more. Or if you want to turn on donations, do that.

Crowd-funding irks me, I don’t know if I really believe in that, but if its your bag, fine, do that too.


‘Copying without consent’ works for me. A lack of consent does not imply theft though.

Piracy implies theft or a criminal act, which asserts that consent must be given. Therefore it is expressing an opinion on whether consent is required to copy something.

Edit: typo


Right, got it. I’ll refrain from using the word “stealing” in this discussion.


Okay since there are so many issues here perhaps I should clarify my position somewhat.

First off I am not in favor of a quid pro quo barter based economy. I tolerate it and use it because that’s the system we have and that’s what I need to use in order to get by but it’s not at all what I like or believe in or favor. I am more in favor of a gift economy, of volunteering one’s labour, economies and societies which are like those that spring up from the open source movement. Let me be clear I am not in favour of a socieity that honors how much wealth one possesses but rather how much and how one does distribute one’s wealth. In short not how much one has but how much and what one gives. Furthermore I find it extremely ironic that everyone here likes to comply with law which is entirely funded by theft in order to persecute the perpetuation of artificial scarcity. You can create as many copies as you like of a file without damaging the original. Does this remove the orignal file? No. it’s not the fault of the consumer that the artist is using the wrong business model with the medium in question. Once you upload something your media becomes a service not a good/product. The mistaken notion of trying to create scarcity, by artificially trying to restrict who can download or use your media via law or software restrictions, is the process of creating artificial scarcity and is a mistake. Any business model based on copyright and restricting of the customer’s ability to share the content is doomed to fail. Copyright and privacy are incompatible concepts. You cannot have copyright without tracking who has downloaded/used what. To do that you need to monitor people’s usage, to do that you need to invade their privacy. If you believe in privacy and freedom you cannot support copyright. The two are mutually exclusive ideas.

Frankly I find the idea of having a donation system to voluntarily donate and support artists appealing. There’s so much talk about smart contracts and pay as you use documents (An intriguing idea I’ll admit. Kind of like self-serve rentals.) But why not any talk about my funding pool idea? Where you crowdfund to an account and then redistribute to a list of accounts. These other accounts could be individuals, groups or other funding pools that would again redistribute the funds in turn according to their own rulesets and user/group lists.

You might try giving this a read

And this

What it coems down to for me is why are you creating or doing what you are doing? Why is the artist creating? Are they creating because they love art and want to share something or are they trying to make money? You ask what the goal is: to keep people motivated by creating this rather than by money. To keep people wanting to learn and create and build and heal rather than make personal profit. To do that you make sure their base needs are taken care of. You crowdfund and get the artist a studio and materials and living expenses so they don’t have to worry about it. If you love an artists work you voluntarily support them without having to be compelled via quid pro quo, you just do it because you want to do it. Your purpose, your motive, is to help get these people what they need so you send them funds. You GIVE to them. And in turn they give back to siciety.

Really you should watch this video by Dan Pink on Motivation

In short I believe in the Purpose motive instead of the Profit motive.

One of the reasons I’m for piracy is honestly I’m not inclined to support artists that a profit motivated. If an artist (or anyone else) offered their work for free I’d be more than happy to throw money at them, and lots of it (assuming I had it) but the moment they REQUIRE me to pay for it, espeically when the price of the work is grossly over priced (you can buy a stack of dvds for what $20? You expect me to pay $10 to $20 for 1 copy of a movie? Um no.), I become quite disinclned to do so. I might $2 to $5, maybe even $10 a month to an archive where I could stream and download unlimited amounts of movies with no extra fees but that’s as close as I’d come.

Also consider the fact that big publishing corporations be they the big publishing houses or big record companies only pay the artists a fraction (like 1%) of the price charged for the product. If you pay $10 for a book the artist is only getting 10 cents of that. Does that sound fair?


You’re quite passionate. Although I’m still a bit confused, because I don’t think anyone disagrees with you. You seem more like you have a strong connection to the subject matter, and that you’re talking rather listening. The copyright thing is relatively common knowledge at this point and I’m in total agreement. Artificial scarcity models won’t work as we move forward, hence why someone like myself in the industry is digging into this project (apart from my interest in distributed storage and technical advancements in general). We agree.

How would you model a donation system for film? I’d like to hear more about how you think that would work.

My concern is you’re applying a model for music to film/television and treating them like the product has the same worth (an album == a movie). Music costs a fraction of a fraction of what films cost to make. It’s not just a creative guy in a room. It’s 15-100 people building a corporation that dissolves after 6 months to a year. If the amount you’re willing to pay doesn’t cover the bare minimum costs of making a film, and there were people investing millions of dollars (remember, a low budget film is ~1million dollars) into the film, that will probably not keep happening. Too much risk.

So what system would you suggest that would set at east those financiers?

This applies to the arts that can be done by a person with time and passion. Films require a lot of passion, time, and financing. Camera rentals, lights, actors, extensive crew, location fees and permits, insurance, editorial, vfx/online, mix, and marketing. Even indie movies only knock a couple of these categories out. Even those famous stories you hear about DIY filmmakers doing amazing projects for 10,000 dollars, those are fudged numbers. They’re calling in favors, getting free rental gear, and limiting the scope of the story. Most super low budget movies have projected budgets of more like 400,000 to 1million.

How would you reconile that?

While I’m not familiar with the publishing industry, I can tell you from first hand experience and studies I’ve read that the musicians were doing better before Spotify and iTunes. The cuts they take are large, and they do nothing to promote. Labels, while they did take enormous cuts, also offered advances by subsidizing the smaller band through the successful ones. So for every success they could give a handful of new bands a shot, and a pile of money to produce an album. I think cutting out Spotify and Apple from the equation would be massive. And musicians could benefit more closely from a donation system because to cost of producing music is so much lower.

Could you elaborate? I think I missed this.


I disagree with this wholeheartedly. I find it arrogant, insulting to a lot of hard-working people, and disheartening. Do you lump software and video games into this category too? This just makes me sad.


@russell you are making some assumptions he about what is right and proper. I have no axe to grind about what is or isn’t right, and am very pleased that you are here grinding your axe too build the perform you believe in.

I am aware though that people, including some creators and artists would disagree with your rather conventional position. Convention doesn’t though deserve a monopoly on policy, or define what is right.

Your assumptions might perhaps include:

  • creatives want financial reward for their
    work (mostly, but not always true)
  • the best way to do this is through rules imposed on consumers, such as copyright (very conventional, but more and more being challenged by other models)
    … I imagine you and others more into this field can extend this list better than I.

I hope you can hear my message here. I’m not saying you should not do what you believe in. I’m not staying it is wrong. I’m saying it is not the only iron, and may in fact not be the best. Convention is there because it has some benefit, and it is a stuck place that needs to change with the times, context and environment.


Ok let’s start by elaborating on my money pooling system.

Start here
How Government is Obsolete – Part I: Taxation

I wrote this a long time ago, unfortunately I’ve had a limited amount of people that have read it. I think this is the part you’ll find particularly interesting, although I think you should read the entire thing.

I would also put forward that if one believes in supporting one’s
fellow man then one does not need to be compelled to do so and if one
does not believe in it the one is inherently being robbed and
violated.   Also taxation inherently creates the need for tax evasion
and tax havens whereby one hoards their capital outside of a local
economy in order to maintain it’s value.   This deprives the economy of
the circulation of said capital.   Under a voluntary system why would
one feel the need to do this?
This topic could be explored extensively from a philosophic
perspective but it is my intention to provide workable solutions and
alternatives to the current tax driven system.   Let us then define our
terms.  Let us call a sum of money, or fund, that is arrived at and
maintained collectively by multiple parties as a money pool.  For
example Tom donates $i amount of funds, Jerry donates $k amount of funds
and Larry donates $m amount of funds, so the $pool = ($i + $j + $k) and
can then be redivided and redistributed any number of ways.
What we are describing here is essentially the concept behind
crowdfunding and that alone would work for many major projects and there
are many crowdfunding options already established on the net.   But
let’s assume we want a network of money pools to handle projects on a
national, state, and municipal level.   So let’s use healthcare as an
example of this, everyone loves healthcare.   So on the national level
you’ve got the Federal Medical Fund, on the state level you’ve got the
State Health Project and on the Municipal level you’ve got your local
hospital.   Each of these entities could be fed voluntary donations from
businesses, non-profits and private individuals that believed in
supporting healthcare either locally, state wide, or nationally.   (Also
realize this is a gross oversimplification as there could be multiple
health projects and supporting projects at each level.   For instance
the State Children’s fund that feeds the local orphanage and women’s
support shelter might draw from medical and welfare pools.)  These money
pools could be set up to receive and deliver funds automatically via
preprogrammed automated scripts.   Donations could be delivered using
multiple payment methods, including bitcoin, and all of this would cut
down on the number of beaurocrats and accountants one might need to pay
in order to maintain the system.   In fact each money pool itself could
be little more than a bank account or bitcoin address attached to an
automated program that determines how they money flows in and out of the
Ultimately the best option would be to simply reduce the strain on
the system and promote independence and health within the citizenry.  
Which is exactly what we will be exploring in the following chapters.

So to answer your question about the movie first you identify the tasks that need to be done. Filming, acting, writing the script, directing, lighting, prop design, creating costumes, makup, catering to the actors petting whims, finance, etc etc. List them all. Then find people that LOVE and are PASSIONATE about doing those jobs. Don’t look to pay them high salaries, don’t look for profit motivated people, look for PURPOSE motivated people. Look for people that LOVE to act and specfically would love to act IN THAT PARTICULAR MOVIE! Get writers that love to write. Get make up artists that love to do make up. That’s your first step to cutting costs. Get people that WANT to be there.

If you still need more funds then use the money pooling idea. So at this point we’re focusing on the redistribution phase. So you’ve got your crowdfund going at $movie_pool and from there it goes to $crew_pool, $cast_pool, $equipment_pool, $marketing_pool and so on, or however you want to divide it. Then let’s take the cast as an example in there you’d have $star1 = Gets x amount at $bitcoin_address1, $star2 = Gets y amount at $bitcoin_address2, $star3 = Gets z amount $bitcoin_address3, and so on again however you want to arrange it. They could all be paid the same, they could be paid differently, they could be paid by percentage of the crowdfunded movie money pool which would give them an incentive to get more people to donate to the big pot. In fact that’s a good idea. If your salary is dependent upon the movie overal being a success and you only get paid if a lot of people donate to the making of the movie you’ll want to get a lot of backers and do a lot of promotion. I’m assuming that you haven’t managed to get a voluntary crew or cast.

Once produced the movie could be uploaded to a site where people could subscribe to see it and download it. They pay a monthly fee to have access to it. Also if they go through the site (as opposed to torrenting) they could chat with the producers and actors and get info on the next upcoming movie. Maybe even share ideas and feedback on how it should be (or get involved in making it). If you aren’t passionate you can just get a pirated version of the movie and watch it and spread the word about it (free advertising). If you are passionate about it you can go to the site, subscribe and get involved.

The question isn’t whether they are hard working but rather why. If they’re profit motivated quite frankly it’s MEANT to be insulting and disheartening. It makes me sad we as a society reward the accumulation of wealth rather than the use and distribution of it. Who cares if you have wealth? I care if you give it away or what you do with it. It’s not having the power that matters but how you use it.


@Russell @Traktion @Blindsite2k

Wrote my puny response to @russell before catching up with all your posts (email not the best way to read a forum! ) and want to honor you all for such a brilliant debate.

Thank you. I shall watch and learn!


I am loving this conversation. Of course I am strongly aligned to Russell in my view here, and when I first read your statement

I was going to reply: “If I’m selling goods on a market, and someone takes some of those goods without my consent, that is stealing.” The important difference between physical goods and digital art is maybe this: for a physical good, the seller has lost one good; for the digital art, the seller has lost one customer (potentially, but not even necessarily!).

So yes, thank you @Traktion, for adding your voice. I will also from now on speak about ‘copying without consent’ (or non-Consented Copying nCC). I do believe this term will be more constructive in finding good solutions.

The important question is then, how to build a distributed age where copying is as easy and open as Popcorn time, but with consent (and just contribution to the author)!


I want to strongly disagree that @russell 's point of view is ‘conventional’. It is anything but conventional. The only thing he is advocating for is that the producers of art are the ones that can justly argue what the costs were in producing that art. Art is not free. It doesn’t fall out of the sky, like torrents do.

As just one example why @russell’s point of view is not conventional: he wants to cut out the middle-man (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc). They have taken over the role of the traditional music store, but replaced it with virtually no value (excepting important infrastructure costs they have), in particularly not for the artist or the consumer. This is why the SAFE network is such an immens opportunity: by having a network responsible for distribution and correct payment for art, the massive profits digital music stores/streaming services make on the back of consumers and artists can be cut out from the system.

This is why we are building a new project for art.