So I've thought for a little while that copyright is more or less going away whether we like it or not. How, then, do creative people make money by entertaining us? The same way they did before audio recording or the printing press were invented -- live performances and generous patrons.
But the patrons don't just have to be wealthy aristocrats these days. I think what happens is, you release a couple of titles -- books, albums, whatever, for free. Build up a fanbase. Then you hold the next work hostage. You set a fundraising target, and you release the work once that target has been met. If you have millions of fans, your target can be millions of dollars. All of them will contribute five or ten. If you have a couple hundred fans, your target can be a couple hundred dollars. Someone who's really eager will contribute extra, or talk their friends into joining in, to get the next work out that much faster.
These schemes are starting to show up, and I'm interested to see whether they take off.
Here's a site where you fund investigative journalism. Once a story gets enough funding, the investigation gets done. I might actually try this.
One of my favorite essayists, the Real Live Preacher Gordon Atkinson, has proposed to publish his next book this way.
Maybe I can get research funding this way. Want me to work on this idea for a fiber optic vibration sensor I've got? Send me five bucks. I'll start when I get to $10,000...