You are the creator of a digital work, and you want to get credit for your creation, and to get paid by those who enjoy it. Your first reaction to the idea of perfect digital copies being rapidly made is likely to be one of fear that people will copy your work without paying you. Your second reaction will be to try to find a way to prevent this copying through some kind of clever locking technology. This is a big mistake, because the problem is not solvable. Anyone who can view your content can copy it.
Think about payment, not copying
When you buy a piece of music, a book, or a movie, you expect to be able to play or read it at your own convenience, when you want to. You might not read all of it at once; you may re-read it, or listen to it over and over again. The reason you bought it was to have this kind of flexibility. Copying and editing are a natural extension of this kind of partial or repeated viewing. Digital media make this an easy and natural thing to do, and something that your customers both expect and value.
If you lock up your work with some scheme that requires a password to be entered and a network connection to authorise, or one that sets a time limit after which it will destroy itself, or even just one that prevents editing and copying, your customers will value it less, and be less likely to pay for it.
These kinds of copies are not foregone sales; in fact by excerpting and quoting your work they are likely to lead to more sales. The kind of copies you need to worry about are those that involve your work being republished.
Encourage copying, expect payment
Publishing your work via mediAgora implicitly allows others to edit it and incorporate it or part of it in their derivative works. However, if they do so, they need to include a reference to your work as a source work and require that any customers that purchase their work buy yours too.
They will act as promoters for your work.
Similarly, customers may tell their friends about your work, or incorporate it in playlists or collections they share. In this case they are not creating a new work with added value, but acting as pure promoters. Paying them a little commission for this gives them an incentive to work within the system that pays you, instead of outside it.
Acknowledge your inspiration
It is widely quoted that 'Athene sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus', but if you trouble yourself to read the full story, you will find that this happened only because Zeus ate Metis (Athene's mother) whole.
Similarly, most creative works are built on the work of others. In the current publishing environment, incorporating others' work is a complicated business - usually involving protracted rights negotiations. Publishers are reluctant to give up any royalty points, so they will try to buy out your rights based on estimated sales.
Within mediAgora this Gordian knot is cut - when someone incorporates your work, you get paid the full price, and they get paid for the value they add. This doesn't grant anyone rights to publish your work in a physical medium, but the incorporation of the credit and link to you in your work and others that include it makes it easier for these kinds of publishers to find you. It doesn't preclude a traditional rights negotiation either - in this case you'd either take a flat fee and let the creator of the derivative work take all the sales revenue, or you could be credited as a co-creator and take a percentage of sales that way.
Small pieces tightly bound
You may want to consider dividing your own work up to facilitate this - defining your movie as a playlist of scenes, with separate price and creators for each would give more flexibility for derivative works, and still act to promote your movie by the connection as a source work. Conversely, you could create a composite work from your smaller ones - an album, or other 'bundle deal' where the price of the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
A key point of mediAgora is that all such pricing decisions are yours as the creator.
You write the promotional terms
The promotional fee choices are yours too - you can make the promotional fee 95% of the sales price to simulate the traditional royalty model, or 50% like a traditional retail distributor, or 10%, like an agent's commission - your call. You can set the sales target low or high, and the accounting period to be a day, a week, a month or a year or anything inbetween. This flexibility should allow you to find a price structure that suits you and your promoters, and that your customers are willing to pay.
Copyright Kevin Marks 2001-2002