Keliso is a donation-based system where, once the creator is paid in full, the production is released to everyone; not just to the people that contributed, but everyone. This raises an obvious question: why donate? Why not wait for other people to donate first, or donate more? As someone asked within a forum debating recommendations for the new Canadian copyright laws, "How can one buyer PAY MORE, while another PAYS LESS, and yet they have the same 'product'?"
Excellent question. The
answer is that people aren't paying for digital content, they are paying
for something else, something tacked onto the content. People won't
pay for something they can get for free; after all, that's a pretty
silly thing to do. So, whenever people pay for what amounts to the
common good, they are actually paying for something else. This is what
I have no intention of "releasing" the mechanism behind Keliso,
not without being paid first, but I can show how several other existing
value-added systems work. Let's take a limited edition print for
example. The photographer signs and sells only 100 of them for a high
price but, to gain interest, basically gives the actual print away on
the net. Anyone can download the print and enjoy it for free, but if
they want something more, the exclusivity of the signed limited-edition
print, they have to pay for it. Take the limited-edition print and copy
it, and it's worth exactly what the free print is worth - nothing.
It's not about selling the print, the photographer is selling something
else... the "limited" part.
The iTunes Store is another
value-added system. Apple's not really selling the music, they're
selling a convenient hassle-free download service. Apple then just
tosses some money to the original artists so they can continue using the
content, to sell the service. People will pay a dollar for
ease-of-use, even if they can get the content elsewhere for free. This
is the reason iTunes works.
Neither of these
value-added mechanisms are how Keliso operates, but they are crude
analogies. On Keliso, the people donating money aren't really paying
for the content, they are paying for something else. Funding the
content is just a byproduct of the system. Keliso needs content to
operate; without content, Keliso is devoid of purpose. But, by tying
the unique nature of Keliso communities to the work of
content-producers, a lot of great things can happen. The communities
can be self-moderating, without the need for oversight, people can deal
with the inevitable troublemakers and trolls
by themselves. Communities can operate anonymously while still making
these anonymous accounts valuable, so that people will act responsibly
with them. It's the way human communities are suppose to work.
vibrant and healthy Keliso community will be a great place to be a part
of. It offers all of the standard forum-based activities, yet offers
mechanisms to deal with the troublemakers. And, as a byproduct of a
functioning community, productions get funded, artists earn a living,
and the creative commons, the sum-total of all freely-available content,
gains in value.
This is what Keliso has to offer.
What is Keliso?
One is, of course, Wikipedia. Who'd have thought that a bunch of people could get together and build something that amazing. Criticised from the start; with calls of being hopeless, bound toward total inaccuracy, and an impossible goal; it has grown into the most complete and up-to-date repository of knowledge the world has ever seen. Excluding the obvious joke-entries that are bound to come up with such a system, it is on average likely to be the most accurate as well.
Another is Open Street Map. Who'd have thought that a bunch of people running around with their personal GPS devices could build the most comprehensive street-map that has ever existed. They did; over 160Gb of XML data, and counting. I say "over" because I don't want this article to be dated next week. Open Street Map now covers most of the developed nations on Earth, and a good part of the undeveloped ones too.
The third Web 2.0 project is something that most people don't think about, at least not in a positive way. It is the distributed data warehouse of content archived in the P2P networks. Most people think of piracy when the term P2P comes up, and they're right. The vast majority of content within the store is copyrighted and being used without permission. But, if you step back and look at it, the results really are stupendous.
Any casual browsing of torrent listings will show a staggering array of content. Basically, it contains pretty much everything that anyone has ever found interesting. Virtually every song, every application, every movie... TV shows, sporting events, scanned magazines and books, photos... the conglomeration of culture is astounding, and growing by the day. I wouldn't even hazard a guess at how many terabytes of data are available, searchable, and downloadable with a few mouse clicks. Any number offered would only be a guess, and even if accurate it would be obsolete within days. It is the single greatest aggregation of culture that humanity has ever created; the greatest libraries in the world are insignificant-nothings in comparison. In a day, a person could download more books that could be read in a lifetime, in a few weeks (only because data rates are often throttled by ISPs) more movies than could be watched in a lifetime, more applications than could be installed, more content that any human could ever consume. Not bad for a bunch of pirates.
Of course most of this content is there illegally, against the wishes of the rights-holders. But, how could this be any other way? There is no way such content could be legally collected, not without huge sums of money involved. For it to be done by people in their spare time, like Wikipedia and Open Street Map, it has to be free. Yes, the content isn't suppose to be free, but it will be.
Eventually, all the content in the P2P datastore will be legally free, either because the rights-holders have monetised those rights through a system like Keliso, or the copyright has expired. It won't be long before all new content will be released under pay-for-production systems, rather than the failed pay-for-consumption system we have now. Thus, eventually, it will all be legally free and waiting for us in the P2P datastore. Web 2.0 at its best. Who'd have thought a bunch of - insert your chosen expletive here - pirates could do such a thing.
What is Keliso?
I am neither qualified nor have any interest in representing "the file-sharing community." Nor will I waste any effort on ethical arguments, because they're all pointless. They don't matter.
They don't matter because there are millions, if not hundreds of millions of people (and if not hundreds of millions yet, there soon will be) sharing files over the Internet. These people either don't believe or simply don't care that there is anything ethically wrong with what they're doing. The most perfectly-crafted and philosophically sound arguments will not change this. We're talking about millions and millions and millions of people.
The reality of the situation is that pretty well all available digital content will be freely copied, no matter the ethical arguments, no matter the digital rights management, no matter the laws built to prevent it. That's reality. The amount of content that is freely available now is staggering, and growing by the day. The peer-to-peer networks, built by millions of people sharing digital content, now amount to a massive decentralised data warehouse. It is the largest repository of culture that humanity has ever known.
Millions and millions and millions of people are using the peer-to-peer networks every day. They are not going to stop because of proclamations, laws, or technical blockades. These people are your future, a rising tide. They're not bullying you, stealing from you, they're just moving on by while you're failing to keep up.
The creators of digital content will realise, sooner or later, that selling copies of something that can be copied for free is a really, really dumb idea. They need a new business model. It's not hard to do, even I've come up with a viable model. It won't be long before artists can make money alongside the file sharing community; if people want the content that artists create, there will be a way.
It's not an ethical or legal argument, it's just reality. There's no point living in denial.