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Crowdsourcing and copyright

There’s an interesting app called Film Crew which I happened to see mentioned online, which allows anyone with a smartphone to be involved in shooting films and videos by following shared instructions. It’s made by Koburn, an interesting company which allows businesses etc to gather phone footage to be made into videos by their professional editors.

The app also allows you to organise your own film crew from friends and family, and then share it online or order it on DVD.

There’s a lot of talk for brands about empowering engagement, brand influencers, and premium marketing content, and it does seem like an interesting and potentially worthwhile way for brands in particular to pull together footage from events that they wouldn’t be otherwise able to film, which is a good thing.

But.

The reward for those shooting footage is appearing in the credits.

There’s no mention of any financial reward, which may be possible on an individual brand basis. And presumably the copyright to any footage that you shoot will end up being assigned to the filmmaker responsible. There’s certainly nothing to clarify that position that I could find on the website.

That’s fine if you think being in the credit of a brand video is adequate reward, but I can’t help wondering whether it’s something that most people would be motivated by?

Obviously it potentially lowers the rewards available for selling video footage, which is something happening to all creative professionals in a global market – the availability of stock photography has had a big impact over the years. And although that’s a bad thing for professionals, it’s unavoidable that we all need to find ways to demonstrate additional value.

But the copyright thing still strikes me as interesting. We can all potentially contribute to films, but as we all know, we can’t use, remix or feature any non-Creative Commons licensed film, even in passing, without either automatic Youtube takedowns or manual legal action.

Call me cynical, but I’m less and less likely to contribute words, images or video to anything which doesn’t either assign copyright to the individual creator, or will be licensed under Creative Commons for everyone to benefit from. Regardless of any financial reward or my name in the credits…

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For musicians

I have a fair number of talented musicians as friends. Quite often I’ve seen them posting some of the popular image memes around people not paying for music anymore, despite paying for a cup of coffee.
I explain that I don’t buy CDs much any more, aside from the occasional secondhand bargain. But I do pay directly to a variety of artists for their work, even if I can already access it via Spotify or I’ve already downloaded it, and I’m increasingly buying gig tickets, merchandise and other items.

This TED talk by Amanda Palmer has just been posted, and I think it’ll be my default response in future: