Modèle:ConsultCE2014:Resource pooling new financing sources adapted to digital culture and its many contributors and projects

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6. Resource pooling: new financing sources adapted to digital culture and its many contributors and projects

The increase in the number of creative individuals, observed at every competence or quality level, raises unprecedented challenges for the sustainability of creative activities. Attention or reception time can not grow at a similar pace: only demographic growth and the liberation of time for individuals can contribute to its growth, while other factors (media diversification, investment in producing works) may reduce it. Mechanically, the average compound attention time for a work will progressively decrease, until a new balance is reached between production and reception. Such a situation will impact the financial resources that can be collected by various channels and their respective share in the remuneration or financing of creative activities. These transformations occur in a context where the appreciation of creative and expressive activites is stronger than ever, as a consequence of a growing involvement of individuals in them. The willingness of a great number of citizens to contribute to their sustainability is certain However, this willingness is accompanied with an at least as strong rejection of the capture of income by distributors, pure financial investors or organizations without added-value for the contemporary creative endeavours. Sources of remuneration or financing that limit individual use, put in place surveillance mechanisms or install transaction costs in the path of use are even more rejected.

Which sources can we use to ensure that the growth of digital culture will be sustainable in the context descrived above? The following table outilines the potential and drawbacks of various mechanisms, with an indication of how they can or not extend to a greater diversity of contributors and works, and how much that can serve to identify and promote interesting works.

SourceProbable evolution of shareExamples and degree of distribution diversity
Public employment (salary and statutes)↓ or =, cf. point 13wide distribution
Public subsidies↓ or =, cf. point 13diversity variable according to policy
Parafiscal resources with curated management↓ or =ex: film funds in France, tax shelter or credit, part of home copying fees used for support to creative activities, limited diversity
TV production obligations (France)limited diversity
Sales and rental of contents to end-consumers↓ or =variable diversity depending on market organization, cf. point 8
Intermediation services financed by advertising↑ or =search engines, social networks, concentrated on large audiences
Cultural mediation?Limited resources but essential to quality detection in a universe without upfront filters
Commercial licensing=limited but extensible diversity
Human servicesex : art teaching, concerts, theater viewings, conferences, etc. Wide diversity for teaching, dependant on market organization for theater viewings and concerts, cf. point 8
Voluntary resource poolingcooperatives, participative financing, support subscriptions : real diversity but limited by capabilities of platforms to attract donors
Society-wide statutory resource pooling= or ↑creative contribution, basic income, wide possible diversity, uncertainty on existence of the schemes

Some statutes of public employment such such as teaching and research positions play a major role in the existence of a diverse culture, including for digital culture. Both their numbers and the freedom of those occupying them are threatened. Their existence merits all our attention. Beyond this, three mechanisms have the potential of significantly contributing to the sustainability of a many-to-all cultural society. Each implements a form of resource pooling, but at a completely different scale. These three schemes are: voluntary cooperative resource pooling, statutory contribution organised by law but managed by contributors and basic income allowance.

Cooperative resource pooling (artist and author cooperatives, production and publishing cooperatives, participative financing intermediaries such as kickstarter or KissKissBankBank, etc.) undergoes an exciting development. It already plays a key role to federate efforts in creative communities or to pool funds for potentially orphan projects (f.i. documentaries, investigative reporting, useful software without immediate business models, etc.). One can consider that author and artist cooperatives and related editorial and publishing structures are the natural model of development of creative communities in digital culture. It is urgent to provide them with a more favourable tax and regulatory framework. This risks nonetheless not being sufficient to collect the needed resources. Can participative financing scale up to that level? There are significant doubts on this possibility, whether one consider scenarios with many participative financing intermediaries or with a few very large ones. The doubts arise from the fact that only dominant intermediaries can attract large groups of donors, and that their project presentation surface is limited. As a result the great majority of projects are not promoted on front page or by communication mechanisms and can count only on their preestablish networks.

Resource pooling organized by law (with a statutory contribution) is of a fundamentally different nature than tax or parafiscal mechanisms with public or curated management such as public broadcasting fees, the "avances sur recettes" scheme for movie production in France, or the sums allocated to support to creative projects or festivals within the home copying fee systems. In society-wide resource pooling, all funds are allocated by contributors, either through the preferences expressed or as a funtion of voluntarily recorded usage. In the Creative Contribution scheme advocated by the author of this document and supported by various coalitions of musicians, film players, consumer unions and NGOs, the collected sums are allocated:

  • to support projects (production of works, project setup) and organizations (cooperatives, cultural mediation),
  • to remunerate/reward contributors to works that have been shared outside markets.

The sums are allocated in the first case on the basis of preferences expressed by contributors, in the second case on the basis of data stored by voluntary users about their non-market use in the public sphere (P2P sharing, recommendation, posting on blogs, etc.). The flat-rate contribution is of the order of €5 per month per household in developed countries. This limited sum (at most 4% of the cultural consumption of households) of course means that the scheme does not aim at replacing the other resources listed above. The aim is to provide an additional resource, specifically adapted to digital culture and its great number of contributors.

This limitation has led other proponents to defend a scheme whose motivations go well beyond cultural activities, but which could play a key role in their sustainability: the inconditional basic income allowance. Also called existence income or citizenship income, it would be a sum distributed without any condition to every adult in some geopolitical or citizenship area. Every person could then allocate freely one's time to work leading to additional income or to non-market activites.

The three schemes just described are three possible compromises between ease of implementation and scale of the results. They also differ by their more specialized or more generic nature. This text's author judges that the creative contribution is particularly relevant for the years to come: it can support voluntary resource pooling and prepare the ground for more general schemes. Other policy proponents have different views. Public policy has the duty to explore how it could put in place or support each of these schemes.