Everyday millions of people around the world generate content to share with friends, family and complete strangers. Whether news articles, podcasts, videos or music, creators of these works have suffered an unfortunate disconnect from the economy as we know it due to the very nature of the digital content they share. It’s a goal of Maidsafe to offer better options for creators and consumers alike to enable a more direct way of exchanging value between them.
As the digital world became more relevant to the average Internet user, it also became more apparent that the ecosystems of digital creations do not work within the current structure of our economy. The freedom and ease that the Internet brought to sharing data to this day avoids most of the physical and political boundaries of the real world however, taking it further into a Safe Internet, this freedom and ease becomes even stronger and alters the dynamic of sharing content even moreso. The public key infrastructure used in the Safe network in combination with the granularity of network transactions allows for creators to have much more opportunity to earn compensation. The option to tag publicly shared content with a public watermark of the original owners Safe network ID will give people options for raising funds from consumers on a programmatic, peer-to-peer basis. Micropayments are extremely useful for consuming and especially digital content and because Safecoin network payments allow for millions of transactions per second without the fee structures associated with credit cards and Paypal, using the network will be a huge opportunity for individuals looking to share original content dynamically.
Lets look at one person who seems to be one of the only major artists experimenting with alternative distribution and payment systems, Thom Yorke. Thom is a popular musician most notably known as the lead of Radiohead but also creates solo content. He recently released a solo album using BitTorrent’s Bundle service and previously released a Radiohead album with a Pay What You Want (PWYW) model. Imagine if for Thom Yorke’s next experiment, he used the Safe network to host and distribute his songs. He would have the ability to utilize a number of compensation models. Without having to use any third party application or service, he could use a similar model based on PWYW where consumers opt into suggested rates based on their satisfaction. Alternatively, he could try third party services which allow him to charge by the second up until a maximum cost per user for streaming or he could even simply do a fundraiser before creating the content while keeping donation options open to consumers. It’s worth highlighting that the Safe network has a built in up-vote system that suggests a small donation based on content popularity enabling PWYW by default. If the content is widely consumed, the network will suggest a smaller donation while more niche content will have a larger donation suggestion to support the creator.
Since the cost of distributing content on the Safe network is minimized to the cost of uploading the content to the network, the original creators are less burdened and can pass the savings to the fans or followers of their work. Additionally, applications built for content aggregation or more specific payment structures can be compensated separately so there is no need to take a percentage of revenue from those using the service (neither creators or consumers for that matter) or plaster with advertisements and sponsors. Exactly 10 percent of all Safecoins in existence will be allotted to application developers where applications earn network tokens based on usefulness to others.
This system not only empowers content creators but it also has a very real potential to transform how we perceive and handle intellectual property moving forward. As we have found in recent history that a system as open as the Internet doesn’t quite conform to IP regulations (well, except for those pesky centralizing servers) and therefore we should instead try to solve the issue surrounding IP rights with a different strategy. First of all, recognizing what the issue actually is clarifies many misconceptions on how to move forward. Corporate record label and movie production organizations aside, many creators have a difficult time earning a proportional amount of income for the value their work provides to individuals. With a system like Safe, data holders are given more flexibility with how they accept payment while consumers receive a much more fluid experience in giving back to the original creator for content they appreciate.
The cost of the original creator’s upload of a file being so minimal in combination with having an optional watermarked filing system for authenticity underlines the importance of fan appreciation of intellectual and digital content. Consumers will be much less inclined to download a free alternative copy if access to the original costs the equivalent of, say, one cent per 30 seconds to stream with a maximum of one dollar per user (all future access could be free). Maybe in that kind of environment where the price of access is practically zero, making such costs optional to consumers would be a viable strategy so that fans and followers could have more freedom to judge for themselves the value. Once the line between creators and consumers is finally direct by default and individuals on both ends have more freedom of choice, this will enable the conversation of intellectual property to be able to shift towards a more productive outcome.
The Safe ecosystem will transform the dependence on centralized institutions for Internet publication, propagation and access. The more an individual supplies resources to the network and earns Safecoin for contributing, the easier it is to justify paying those earnings forward to others supplying valuable content whether it be educational or entertainment. Watching the Safe network emerge into it’s own sustainable economy will be a really exciting phenomenon to witness, especially with what it can teach us about evolving economies by removing barriers and the extra costs typically associated with them and instead working with more dynamic and granular systems for value exchange.