Crowd Sourcing, an Alternative to Copyrights

I seldom talk about video games on this blog because I personally have little time to partake in the hobby anymore. Back in the day I was a gamer and one of the men who had an aptitude for taking my money was Keiji Inafune. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, Mr. Inafune is one of the creator of the video game series MegaMan. MegaMan was, and still is, my favorite game series so it was all but inevitable that Mr. Inafune, after announcing he was planning what looks to be a spiritual successor to the MegaMan series, would take more of my money.

What does this have to do with copyrights? Instead of producing a game and releasing it, Mr. Inafune and his team decided to crowd source funding via Kickstarter (yes, I did throw my money at the project). As long time readers know, I oppose all forms of intellectual property. I cannot justify the use of force needed to maintain monopolies on ideas. Whenever I discuss my opposition to intellectual property I usually meet resistance from individuals concerned about people who make their money via intellectual property laws. Authors, software developers, and game makers would all go broke if copyright laws no longer existed, right? Wrong.

The idea behind copyright laws is that a creative person can create a work, release it to the world, and make money for his or her efforts. Changing that order slightly allows a creative person to make a profit without copyright laws. Crowd sourcing allows a creative person or team to get money up front so they can create a work and release it to the world.

Mr. Inafune and his team are asking for money up front before they begin development. Their goal has been met with a lot of extra money still rolling in. There’s no reason authors or software developers couldn’t do the same thing. Of course this strategy often requires a little priming of the pump. People are unlikely to throw money at a complete unknown so an author, software developer, or game maker would likely have to release some work for free in order to demonstrate their competence. Authors, software developers, and game makers already have to do this so, in the grand scheme of things, nothing would change. Authors often get advances by publishers to write new books but only after writing a book and gaining the interest of the publisher. No publisher is going to give a complete unknown an advance. Software developers have to write their software and release it to the world before they can expect any payment. Game makers, likewise, have to create a game and release it before anybody will give them money for it. Little changes when you move away from copyright laws and rely on up front funding instead.

Intellectual property is dying. The Internet, by offering a venue to share infinitely reproducible copies of intellectual works, has cut intellectual property laws off at the knees. Politicians are scrambling to make more asinine laws to delay the inevitable. People who have relied on intellectual property laws are adapting to new ways of making money. In the end, intellectual property will die an agonizing death but the release of creative works will continue. I believe crowd sourcing is one of the solutions that will allows creative individuals to make money off of their ideas without having to rely on a forcefully protected monopoly.