On Tuesday 18th February we organised a joint reading group session with colleagues from CCPR (normally branded as CREATe Studio). These reading groups are open to all PGRs and faculty. The topic of discussion was crowdfunding, an emergent activity in which project founders ask for a large number of small contributions from a community of online funders. It became clear over the course of lively discussion that there are a number of points of overlapping interest for researchers in both copyright and cultural policy.
Inge Sorensen and Ronan Deazley voiced concern that crowdfunding might be a threat to traditional sources of funding for culture and the arts; cultural funding agencies might see it as an opportunity to withdraw, allowing the ‘free market’ of online contributors do the work of allocating funding among competing projects.
On the copyright side, Martin Kretschmer wondered whether the success of crowdfunding has implications for the central economic rationale of copyright — that an exclusive right is required to incentivise the creation of new works (crowdfunding, Ronan noted, often appears similar to the patronage model of financing, in which artists are paid to produce work in advance).
Crowdfunding is one of the activities being investigated by a team led by Kris Erickson and Martin Kretschmer this year to assess the contribution of the public domain to value in the creative industries. The team intends to perform a quantitative analysis of some 1,500 projects on the Kickstarter platform, to understand whether public domain status of a work influences the success rate and amount of funding raised.