Kickstarter fighting against crowdfunding model patent

11Oct11

When looking at Chapter 12 in Managing Media Work, Harvey touches on digital distribution and how the “20th-century mass media model has given way to an Internet-supported distributed network model” (Harvey, 2011, p. 242) has enabled independent labels to carve out niches for themselves through the use of sites such as YouTube, MySpace and social network sites to promote themselves, I was reminded of a story on artistShare and Kickstarter I read in the last few days.

artistShare, founded by ex-session musician for Journey Brian Camelio, is suing Kickstarter over an alleged patent infringement.  Kickstarter is under threat from a patent registered by artistShare founder and ex-session musician for Journey, Brian Camelio.  The patent, which can be seen here was issued in February this year and covers “a system and method for raising financing and/or revenue by artist for a project, where the project may be a creative work of the artist”. In response Kickstarter have sued, asking a federal court for the patent to be declared invalid and to judge that they are not liable for copyright infringement.

This could be be identified as an attempt by Camelio and his company at “managing a diversified portfolio by monopolising revenue streams” (Harvey, 2011, p. 240), effectively tryng to shut out a more successful direct competitor.

According to their “About Us” page artistShare has been around since 2003 with it artists have racked up a number of Grammys since its inception. While the sites share some similarities in approach to crowd funding, on Kickstarter anyone can set up a project in order to bid for funds. Artists on artistShare must apply via a survey which asks questions such as “How many Facebook friends do you currently have?”, “How many MySpace friends do you currently have?” and “What is the URL of you most viewed YouTube video?” and are only accepted if deemed “worthy”, in a similar fashion to a more traditional music label might capitalize on the self-made hype of a group or artist.

The legal wrangling is still ongoing but could potentially have wide ranging consequences for crowd based models of funding both for the music industry and potentially for media as a whole.

– Craig Harkness

Works Cited

Harvey, E. (2011). Same as the Old Boss? Changes, Continuities, and Careers. In M. Deuze (Ed.), Managing Media Work (pp. 237-248). Thousand Oaks, California, United States of America: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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