Digital Works Money Pool
A method to have virtually free access to copyrighted digital works
A similar type of idea, but with a different implementation, is the Capitalizing software distribution business plan.
This idea is an extension of the idea of William Fisher about paying for copyrighted music and still have it for free (the fee would be so small that it can be considered to be free).
One step in the evolution of the human civilization is to pay for people's digital works. That is, if you use someone's digital work, you pay for it. Of course, today, not only that paying is difficult for many places on Earth, but it's too expensive. A solution is to bundle digital works at world scale, that is, for a small (periodic) fee people get access to a lot of digital works.
The essence of this idea is for anyone to be able to download any CDW and use it freely. At the same time, in order to pay the author of the CDW, all people connected to the Internet have to pay an extra (small) fee included in their ISP subscriptions (or prepaid cards); the extra fee can be enforced by Internet backbone providers (and downline to retail ISPs). This would allow anyone to use any CDW, regardless of its normal price, for an insignificant fee.
This idea allows the free download and use of CDW, but not the free distribution (/ sharing) of the unlocked CDW.
This idea works with normally priced CDW. CDW which cost hundreds of times the base price can't be a part of this network because they are used only by few people. But since consumers could vote for them freely (even if they have virtually no use for that CDW), they might greatly distort the distribution of money.
It's important to put all types of CDW in one "basket". This is because people who use the Internet normally need at least one type of CDW if not all. Even so, the price paid is much smaller than it is without this system.
All consumers have to pay a small extra fee for their (monthly) ISP subscription. This fee is paid by ISPs to GCDWA, on a regular schedule.
The fee is calculated according to the speed of the Internet connection (and possibly to Internet traffic, or card time limit). This is because someone who has a maximum download speed of 5 KB/s can download much less CDW than can someone who has a maximum download speed of 1 MB/s. So, it is assumed that people with a low speed connection use less CDW than the others.
ISPs can still offer their customers who don't want to pay the extra fee for Internet access, accounts which are limited in speed or traffic (for example, 50 MB/month), or accounts which are not for Internet access (but only for email access).
All consumers have to create online a free consumer account with GCDWA. Then, they will use their accounts to vote for the CDW they like. This account doesn't need to contain any personal information, but only an email address. However, some types of CDW may require age authentication (for example, pornographic CDW).
Consumer accounts ensure that CDW votes are accurately counted. Each vote for a CDW is counted only once for each consumer account.
When a consumer wants to use a CDW, he downloads it from the website of the author. Then the consumer votes for the CDW, on the GCDWA network, and receives a registration key (which he uses to unlock the CDW). If the CDW (or the download of the CDW) is protected with a locking method, this registration key must unlock it; the unlocking must be guaranteed by authors.
The accuracy of the counting (meaning, one vote for one consumer) is ensured by allowing only one account to each consumer. There are several ways to do this:
Special terms might have to be considered with business consumers because each vote usually counts for more licenses.
The vote of each user has a "weight" proportional with the fee paid to the ISP specific for the country he lives in.
This solves two problems:
Every author of CDW who wants to participate in this network can create online an author account with GCDWA. This account requires personal information because it is necessary to pay the author. A small fee is required to open the account; this is necessary mainly to be able to authenticate the author.
Authors must host their own CDW.
At any time after the author account has been created, the author may submit a any of his CDW works. This submission is reviewed by GCDWA and an approval (or disapproval) is issued, because the GCDWA must maintain a high standard for CDWs. The GCDWA charges a fee for every CDW submission, according the the type of the CDW; for example, a picture is charged less than a movie. Every subsequent CDW update must be approved for a fee.
When the GCDWA reviews a submission of a CDW, it must establish the price of the work, following the recommendation of the author. There must be a minimum price for the work, depending on its size, to ensure that it would cover bandwidth expenses.
When the GCDWA introduces the price of a CDW in their system, they don't actually use a price in money, but something relative to the CDW in general – to the base price. For example, a normal 3 minutes song could be the base of the price system, set at a relative value of 10 price points. The GCDWA must have a guideline list of prices, which they should use in all cases; the estimations of these prices have to consider the amount of work included in the CDW.
However, authors may request a different price, based on special reasons. If accepted by the GCDWA, these reasons must be public so that anyone who doesn't think the price should be the one established, could file a petition against.
Consumers could be allowed to vote using a different price, equal or smaller than the official one, a price they think is fair. This has to modify their vote's weight proportionally.
The price of the work multiplied with the number of votes of the work would represent the share which has to be paid, by the GCDWA, to the author, regularly.
Each author is paid monthly, but only if he accumulates at least 5'000 price points. If an author is not paid one month, his votes count is not used to divide the money for that month (to other authors).
Authors can update their CDW without review, but they can't change the main information about the CDW. The update should be allowed only for software and books.
The price of an update of a CDW should be smaller than its normal price, for votes made by people who already voted the same CDW. For example, let's say a consumer makes his first vote of a software, and after less than one year he votes an update of that software. The vote of the update should not be counted for the divvying of the payments. However, if at least one year passes from the first vote, the update could be counted at half from the normal price.
The author account enables authors to see statistics about the votes they receive, and payment owned by GCDWA to them.
Authors are paid a low fee for a copy of their CDW, but the sheer volume of votes for their CDW would add up to an attractive amount of money.
Authors are forbidden to promote their CDW by saying they will reward (in any way) consumers who vote for their CDW.
Let's say a CDW is developed by three authors. Each of the authors has contributed differently to the CDW. How are these authors paid?
Each author creates his own author account, and then a common author account is created. The common account will refer the CDW. Also, this account will refer the author accounts of all contributing authors, and what percentage each will be paid (from what is calculated for that CDW).
This way, each contributing author is paid a fair percentage for his work.
Authors should still protect their CDW with various locking methods because if their CDW would be distributed to consumers who can't vote for CDW, they would lose money. However, the protection is not critical.
The unlocking information (in the form of a registration key) would be provided by the GCDWA to consumers who vote, for each voted CDW. The registration key is digitally signed by the GCDWA, in order to provide a way to software to verify, unlock and run the CDW.
The registration key is either used by software to protect itself (or protect a CDW), or is used to protect the download process of the CDW.
A world scale organization is needed to deal with all CDW aspects. This organization, called GCDWA, has contracts with authors and ISPs from the entire world.
A central organization is necessary to count the votes for CDW. This is the critical reason for its existence, but not the only one. A central organization means simpler rules, simpler data collection, more privacy (consumers really don't need to give their personal data, according to the mood of local governments).
It is not possible for every country to have such an organization because people from all over the world may want to use CDW developed in any country, and they might be able to do so because they would not have access to the CDW or their votes would not be counted.
However, there can more than one organization, for example, one for each country, if they all supply GCDWA with the count of votes; in this case, the GCDWA doesn't need to interact with consumers. The GCDWA would divide the number of votes for each CDW to the total number of votes worldwide for all CDW, and then divide all the money collected from all ISPs.
This divvying of the money must be performed on all the money collected from all the world because people from all over the world can use the CDW of authors from all over the world. If local organizations would divide the money by themselves, they could do so only with the money they collect (from their country), that is, without foreign consumers paying for the CDW they use.
The good thing about such an organization is that it has nothing to do with copyrights, that is, copyrights work just as they do now. This organization deals only with how to divide the money.
The existence of a single organization for the entire world would provide good grounds for solving copyright disputes. This is a very good solution for open source software if we assume that the author of the open source software is the first to create an author account with the GCDWA. This may also help more software become open source and thus alleviate the security concerns they might pose.
The GCDWA has a council formed from representatives (of ISPs) of all countries which choose to participate in this network. The extra fee paid by Internet users can be enforced by Internet backbone providers, and downline to retail ISPs which would pass this fee to consumers.
GCDWA allows consumers, who connect to the Internet through an ISP with which GCDWA has an ISP contract (so, the consumer pays the GCDWA), to vote CDW.
The GCDWA is paid by all ISPs with an ISP contract, thus creating the Digital Works Money Pool. Consumers who access the GCDWA network through ISPs that don't participate in the network, are not allowed to vote CDW from the network (because they don't pay the GCDWA).
The GCDWA takes a fee from what it is paid by the ISPs, to cover all its expenses. The rest of the money is divided among all authors, proportional with the price of their CDW and the number of their votes.
The total budget of GCDWA must be split into several sub-budgets (= budgeting), one for each type of CDW. The total budget is fixed, that is, the sum of money is the same (at some point it gets saturated, it can't increase significantly).
Budgeting must exist in order to maintain the fair social value of each type of CDW. Any digital work has two types of value: market value and social value.
Let's consider two types of CDW: pornography and books. We assume that a pornographic movie has the same price (= market value) as a Jules Verne's book. The market value of the movie and book can be fairly estimated as being the same (look at the current market). So, technically speaking, if the movie is voted more times than the book, the movie owners are fairly compensated.
However, the social value of the movie is inferior to the social value of the book. If more pornographic movies are introduced into the GCDWA network, the votes count of movies will overwhelm the votes count of books. This happens because the movies are consumed easier / faster than books.
Since the total GCDWA budget is fixed, it means that the movies would take money from the books. This creates an imbalance which can be corrected by having separate budgets for movies and for books. This balance has to be the result of studies which analyze the impact of various types of CDW on the evolution of the human civilization.
It isn't necessary for sub-budgets to be fixed, but only represent a minimum budget for each type of CDW. For example, books can have a minimum budget of 5% from the total GCDWA budget. This way, let's say 50% of the total budget is divided among all types of CDW, and the rest of the budget is divided strictly according to the votes count of each CDW, that is, strictly according to the market value of each CDW.
Some countries may choose not to participate in the GCDWA. This would mean that authors need to protect their CDW with various locking methods, because consumers from these countries don't pay for the CDW.
If most countries in the world participate in the GCDWA, authors would not have much need to protect their CDW with locking methods, unless they do so to protect it from being distributed by consumers to people who can't vote for CDW (those without Internet access).
It is (probably) not possible for all participating countries to pay the same amount of money for the same type of Internet connection. Therefore, each country must be placed, by the GCDWA, in a category which specifies a so called "category discount".
For example, countries like France, Germany, Great Britain, USA, have 0% discount, and Eastern European countries have (say) 30% discount.
Also see the Vote weight section.
One of the main problems with the organization of the GCDWA is its jurisdiction. Of course, it has to obey international laws, but there are some issues which can't be covered by such laws, like: software patents and censorship.
Therefore, the GCDWA must have jurisdiction in a country which allows maximum freedom. Each author is liable for his own work. The GCDWA must not participate in any legal dispute between authors. However, the GCDWA may terminate the author account of author A if author B can easily prove the CDW of author A is actually the CDW of author B; the proof must come in the form of prior art visible on the Internet, and with a verifiable date of existence (using, for example, websites like Archive).
The GCDWA should be paid (by ISPs and authors) and pay (authors) only in EUR and USD.
There is a special type of CDW which can be integrated into this system: prizes for exceptional achievements in science.
Take the Nobel prizes for instance. They are awarded by an organization to people with exceptional achievements in science. Now, imagine that such prizes would be awarded by people (not by an organization).
In many cases, exceptional achievements in science (and technology) don't generate (large) profits for the author. So, why not setup a budget for such a prize, budget divided in several equal parts, each part for a different area of science.
Every year, the GCDWA could send an email to all its users, with the nominees for each category of the prize. Then, the users could vote which achievement gets the prize.
Most people in the world would benefit from the world implementation of this idea because:
A word of caution
The danger with this system is the possible monopolistic system used to charge consumers and divide money to authors.