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Featured site: "Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related technologies today." This project uses P2P magnet links.

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Updated: 07 Dec, 2010 [see RSS]

Welcome

This website promotes music, video, and other digital media, distributed free via P2P networks under creative commons licences, and where fans can donate on the artist's official website. This site has links to artist's sites, and includes a 'business model' (if you can call it that, more a 'community model'!)

This site is a reality check. A bit of common sense in a sound bite age. A chance to look anew at how we share art, and culture, on the net. This site is dedicated to extolling the benefits of P2P to mankind, and building systems for artists to take advantage of this powerful distribution system (and not go broke in the process).

The big media companies would have your believe that P2P is destroying the music industry, yet back in the day 'everyone' taped music off the radio, made mix tapes, etc. and the music industry was at the height of its power. No one was prosecuted for pirating music of the radio, because deep down the big music industry knew is was building grass roots support, free advertising of the hard to buy kind: endorsement by a close friend.

Patronage

In the old days, before the big media companies, all art was paid for after it was enjoyed. The is know as patronage. This seemed to be an obvious way to go about things as art is all about taste. How can you know you will like something unless you experience it?

Notes: Image if you wanted to buy a picture but the vendor would not let you see it before you brought it, or you wanted to buy some music but you could not listen to it before purchased it. It sounds crazy, but that is what movie companies expect you to do: pay for something you have not experienced for a medium that is all about the experience.

A movie is nothing more that a lot of still images. If you were buying a collection of still images you could look at it, see each image, and then decide if you want to buy it.

Imagine buying a picture to hang on a wall but it is encrypted and you had to buy special glasses to decrypt the image. It sounds crazy, but that is what movie companies expect you to do with HDMI protected content.

It seems business would prefer you to buy things blind, on guess work. Of course you could listen to reviews by critics, but a lot of critics have ties to the industry. It a bit like shopping in a local market and asking the friends of the vendor if his wares are any good.

It all sound like a scam, and in many other areas of business there are strict rules on the salability of an item to do the job. Yet it seems the idea of 'entertainment' should 'entertain' is not taken into account as far as movies are concerned.

Personal taste is just that: Personal. When buying ingredients for food you are able to inspect it at the store. If you did not like the look of the goods you could refuse to buy. If you buy from a restaurant you eat then you pay. If you did not like what you ate, you could stop and refuse to pay. Big business prefers fast food where you pay and then you eat. In most fast food chains you can return uneaten food for a refund though it can be difficult at times.

Now some may point out that food is not duplicate like digital media forgetting that many foods brought from the store can be put in the ground where they will grow - in effect creating duplicates. Potatoes can be cloned, in effect an exact DNA copy (the reason for the potatoes famine that decimated Ireland). A for more complex, yet easy to do, copy.

If you buy a cloned potatoes from the store, you can plant it and grow it and duplicate it as many times as you want. There are not restrictions on doing this, thought if you were to sell the copies there are regulations. However you are not denied the right to duplicate a potatoes. I suppose this is because it counts as 'public domain' but what about special genetically modified potatoes. One day their may be copyrightable DNA potatoes that you are not allowed to duplicate. I wonder if this would justify some form of 'protection'.

Duplication is vitual to civilization. Imagine if back in the day the Chinese had 'rights' to gunpowder and refuse to liecene it to the western world. We would have been defenceless.

Yet you cannot return a movie you brought and started to watch but did not like and turned off. All of a sudden it down to you to prove you did not watch all the movie.

This may be bad but it is even worse with computer games. There is no way you can return a computer game unless the physical medium is damaged, as even if the game sucks, the vendor will say you have clocked it and refuse to take it back.

It all seems a little unfair that we end up at a point where the system of sale make it impossible to return goods that fail to entertain, when these goods are all about entertainment. If the goods do not entertain then they are 'not fit for sale'.

In other areas involving taste this custom continues: in a restaurant you pay for food after you have eaten, and if you did not enjoy it, you stop and do not pay. The same for hotel rooms, you can leave and refuse to pay. Even goods you buy in a store can be checked in store, and come with guarantees as to it quality, and many will allow you do take back goods that are sub-standard, or you do not like them. So why not art?

Did you like it?

Try returning a DVD of a movie and state 'I didn't like it' and see how far that gets you.

Entertainment is supposed to do just that: entertain. Any goods sold in stores should be fit for the purpose they are sold for. There should be a guarantee that you will be entertained - yet we all know that everyone has different tastes and not everyone is entertained by the same things. That makes it logically impossible to know we will like something in advance.

That's why in the past people paid after the fact, after they had been 'entertained', and moved to pay (and because they wanted more in the future).

Caveat Emptor

At the moment we are buying art 'blind', buying goods that may or may not be fit for the purpose they are sold for, and no chance of returning the goods if dissatisfied. How many of us have DVDs and CDs we brought on preorder that we are less than happy with?

Why should I pay for entertainment that does not entertain?

It seems that the way things are done these days is very much 'buyer beware' - caveat emptor.

The Solution

It's a simple concept. Return to the way things have been done for thousands of years - but update it with the use of modern technology. This means you enjoy the art first, and if you like it then you buy in. In practical terms you watch the movie, or listen to the music, and if you like it you pay.

Impractical

In the old days this was a bit hard to do with something modern like a movie. It would be financially impossible to allow every customer to watch a whole movie before they decided to by it - it would be like setting up a cinema and inviting people for free and they only pay if they like it. Hardly feasible in the eyes of a bank manager. At the other end of the scale it's hard to become rich playing gigs or being a street performer. The audience is too small.

P2P and Digital Art

In the digital age this is not longer the case. A customer can download a movie via P2P, and watch it in the comfort of their own home. Many have a full cinema system with full 5.1, and can really enjoy the movie. This happens every day. It's something people want. It makes a lot of sense resource wise in regard to the use of the internet (far better than streaming). The important point to focus on is that it costs the art maker nothing to distribute their wares - and as any businessman knows: money saved is money earnt.

Distribution is handled by their fans, and it is handled with care.

The internet is already paid for. In every way, the distribution system is fully funded and if waiting for artists to take advantage - not flee in fear.

Patronage revisited

The problem is that the artist does not have his cap out. In other words the performance is being given to a world wide audience but their is no way for that audience to show their appreciation.

Seems like a bloody huge mistake.

All artists and studios should have a way for fans to be able to send money for movies they have downloaded via P2P. This allows the fan to support their favourite shows and artists directly. Some hard core fans may pay far more that the cost of current RRP if they really like it.

Even if the studio or artist does not agree with what has been said - it makes sense to include a patronage button on their site.

Fans become sponsors

We have seen many shows cancelled and the fans rally around to try and get the executives to change their mind - but at the end of the day money talks. Imagine what would happen if a show, from sci-fi to soap, could be seen for fee via P2P, for people to try on the off chance, grassroots support, going viral? If they like they should have the option to become a patron.

Next up is an framework of how this should be done...

The System

The system presented on this site using the following: file sharing software, a special hyper link called a 'magnet link', and some legal mumbo-jumbo from the Creative Commons to licence the copying of your files (and preserve your copyright), and online e-commerce systems to collect donations.

File sharing software: You will need this software to share files with your fans. This software is 'Peer to Peer', commonly shortened to 'P2P', and allows you to share files directly with your fans. Once shared on the network, your fans who download it from you can then share your files with other fans. The more people who have your files sitting in their share folder the faster and more available your files become to the public. Once enough people have shared your file it will take on a life of it's own.

There are many P2P softwares, but unfortunately there is a war going on where the RIAA is attempting to destroy all open source versions of P2P software as they see it as a threat rather than the most powerful advertising tool ever created. It has been proven that those who download music illegally actually buy the most legal music - funny that when a person can listen to the art and they like it, they rush out and buy it (it's pretty much the same as busking, they listen, like, and buy a copy to support the artist, though many would prefer to donate directly).

So picking your P2P software is a bit tricky: two that seem to be holding out rather well is Shareaza and Phex.

Magnet Link: These are special hyperlinks that initiate a P2P download. They only work if P2P software is installed on your computer. When you click the magnet link it opens up your P2P software and asks if you want to download the file specified in the link. This ensures the correct file if always downloaded from those sharing your files on the network (it uses a hash number to identify your file).

Magnet links can be made within P2P software. The may sound complicated, but they are very easy to make. In Shareaza (please make sure you get the correct one in the link - the other has been molested but the RIAA), pop into your library, right click a file you wish to share, click on 'Copy URI ' from the menu, and click the top link (the one starting with 'magnet'). Now you have the magnet URI in your clipboard. Use that as the 'address' when making a regular hyperlink.

These magnet links can be posted in your website, social network page, or forum (forums sometimes cause problems so pick the second link when copying URI).

Creative Commons: This site offers (free) licence agreements under which you can distribute your digital files. There are a few types of file on offer, from totally free (the fan can do what he wants with it - even create derivative works etc.), to more restrictive ones that only allow sharing of the files 'as is'. The licences can be localised to your country's specific laws.

It is strongly advised that you include a licence with your works, as it is the only way to protect yourself when a large company comes knocking. Embed the licence in the work (put it in the digital files in full, or at least a link to the CC's online licence file). You must always retain your copyright. The world is full of sharks and having a specific licence is very important. It protects you, but also protect your fans (if you share files under a loose licence, where fans can create derivative works, and a big company claims your work; the licence will protect you, and your fans).

There is nothing worse that a large company stealing your work and claiming it for their own, and often under another's name. So protect yourself and grab a CC licence!

e-Commerce: This is a way to collect donations from your fans. There are many companies offering services to collect donations electronically (the most well know is Pay Pal). You sign up for a free account, make a donations button, post it on your website or social network page. Once this is done; anyone can click the donation button and pay pal account - either from their own Pay Pal account (they are very common) or with a credit card.

In use

Project Gutenberg uses this system to distribute public domain books. Each digital book in their collection has a regular download link and a P2P magnet link. If you click the P2P link and have P2P software installed (Shareaza or Phex for example) it will open up your P2P software and start the download. You are downloading directly from others who have downloaded it before you. Leave a copy of the book in your share folder and other people can then download from you.

The benefit of P2P sharing once a files has been shared is that it will always be available as long as someone is sharing it. Mirror sites may fail, but P2P endures (the decentralised P2P network was designed to counter the impact of nuke attacks taking out military servers - it is really robust!)

Project Gutenberg is in no way associated with artists unchained.

Legal

P2P is a very powerful, legal, technology. It can be used, like any technology, for good and bad. It is possible to use it to break the law and share files without the permission of the copyright owner. P2P seems to have become infamous for this, though before we throw the baby out with the bath water, it should be noted that artist and projects are starting to use P2P to distribute digital files legally. As mentioned above you can download books without fear from: Project Gutenberg (P2P magnet links) and artists like NIN (torrents) offer their tracks direct to fans.

It is setting up these systems, explaining the technology in practical terms, where this site comes in.

Overview

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