A free culture organisation – bis

Today I’ve been talking with Nick De Mey (http://www.mouseover.be) about the non-profit organisation we are about to start (see previous post). As he asked some to the point questions, I was aghast that I could not answer those in a simple and clear way. These are some (frequently?) asked questions that I, mainly as an exercise for myself, try to answer as concisely as possible.

1. What is the current state of the corporation?

At this moment it’s only an idea. As I have very little experience with corporations I’m trying to inform me as well as possible. For that reason I’m trying to talk with as many people as possible in Belgium who might possibly have something to do with the music scene, free culture or marketing.

We would like to found the corporation in the winter of 2011/2012.

2. What’s your product?

The product is a toolkit to provide free artists with a viable business-model for their music. As we believe every artist is an entrepreneur, they should be able to keep their copyright and build a business around their music. We do that by providing them non-exclusive tools/support and passing the right money from the right people to the right artists.

3. Free artists?

Yes. We think artists should be free to do with their own material what they like (although that might sound obvious, it isn’t). On the other hand, consumers should be free to share your song with others, remix it and reuse it. This is for two reasons. People do share music if they like it and they won’t stop sharing because of someone not agreeing. There is no way anyone should or should be able to monitor the use of digital files without explicit  approval. The second reason is cultural innovation. Look around! We live in a remix society. If you can’t see remixes of cultural work is the most exciting thing in the 21th century, then I wonder where you got your ideas from.

§1: Free culture has free artists which are free to do with their work what they want
§2: Free culture has free consumers, which are allowed to share, remix and reuse

4. Non-exclusive?

Yes. Any artist, if their art is licensed under a free license can non-exclusively join our NPO. This means they are allowed and encouraged to join other similar corporations that will help them manage their music in other ways.

Free culture approved

5. Who are you aiming at?

Artists who are not yet well established and who need a decent kick-start. Artists who understand the web revolution and who want to join it. Artists who want their fans to support them directly. Artists who have the guts to think different.

6. Do you collect copyrights?

No. We do not collect copyrights. We only help artists, who own their copyright, with earning money in a new revolutionary, cultural approved way.

7. Transparent?

Apart from free culture and non-exclusiveness, our biggest value is transparency. As an artist you will be able to see where the money you earned comes from.

8. How will you manage these artists?

We are thinking of netlabels. All artists will be assigned to a personal netlabel-maintainer. These maintainer will have you featured on his netlabel’s website. By doing this he may also add your music to online music stores such as itunes and jamendo. When customers buy CD’s their money (at least 90%) will go to that artist.

There are plenty of other ideas (see previous post) to make non-fixed-fee income.

9. Sabam, auvibel, … What are your points on these companies?

We have nothing against those companies. We don’t see them as rivals, since our product is something completely different. Sabam however is an exclusive organisation. This means, once your rights are in their hands, you cannot reuse those rights to go to another corporation and ask for support as well. This being said, artists that want to join our cause will not be able to join Sabam or will have to leave them. That’s not our decision, on the contrary, we strongly encourage anyone to use the support of multiple services.

Auvibel however is a hard one. We oppose any kind of compulsory flat-rate tax at any use of culture. However we think as the levy is already in use to support all artists, our artists should get a fair piece of the money-pie. Ironically this is not possible, due to non-profit organisations not being allowed to join Auvibel.

If you know people who I should contact or if you want to talk to me about this for any good reason, feel free to mail me: pieterc aŧ member.fsf.org.

– Pieter — follow me on identi.ca



  1. Peter Dedecker

    Why not changing your organization from non-profit to cooperative? Each member gets its very small share, but you’re at least able to collect from Auvibel as long as Auvibel will exist.

    • pietercolpaert

      I think it lies in the idea beneath. I don’t want artists to feel like we use them to gain money, which would be that way in a for-profit organisation.

      Frankly, even if we would become a for-profit organisation, I don’t think Auvibel is worth the hassle we’d have to go through. We would end up with almost nothing after a year of fighting with papers (dixit Quickonomie).


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