Thursday, 17 July 2008

MIllion Dollar Idea Right Here

Here’s your million dollars right here: it’s called Splittr (or perhaps something else, but let’s just say).

The Creative Commons by-nc license is great for non-commercial collaboration - tag your content with this license and you indicate to everyone that you’re happy for other people to use it in derivative works as long as it’s non-commercial and as long as they credit you. You’re both protected (maybe: some would argue this) by the boilerplate legalese that license represents. Creativity is lubricated, stuff gets made, everybody’s happy.

But what about the commercial end of things? How do you sell that stuff? For instance, let’s just say a guy named Spiff makes a bunch of music videos using my music. Then maybe Spiff and I want to put those videos on Revver and share in the profits. Or maybe I want to invite fans to create T-shirt designs that I then sell on CafePress, giving them a cut. Or maybe Len wants to create and sell a JoCo coloring book on Lulu. All this stuff is possible (and some of it has happened), but there’s too much friction - the creators involved need to agree on a split and handle all the accounting, paypal-ing money around as it comes in. Sometimes there’s a legal document involved that comes from the Revver or the Lulu or the CafePress, but it’s usually not made for content that has multiple owners. And to be safe and smart, the collaborators might want to be protected by some kind of legalese as well, maybe codify their collaborative relationship so they can enter into these kinds of agreements.

This is where Splittr comes in. Spiff and I both sign up and create individual profiles, to which we can upload CC-licensed content. If we create some CC-licensed collaboration that we’d like to sell, we then use Splittr to create a JocoSpiff entity, a little micro-partnership that just applies to this specific content. We can then sign up (and enter into agreements) with Revver as JocoSpiff. Big bucks flow into the JocoSpiff account and Splittr distributes those moneys to Spiff and Joco (keeping a cut). Other sites that want to use this content in a commercial way can find and contact us through Splittr, make us an offer, and Spiff and I can opt-in if we like. Now the commercial side of all this Creative Commons content is just as lubricated as the non-commercial side. Stuff gets made, MONEY gets made, everybody’s happy.

This already exists, right? Someone’s working on this?

Jonathan Coulton

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