defining a new marketplace for media

mediAgora - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Who handles the accounting and the aggregation of small payments? Are you proposing mediAgora as a site that will do this? For free?

At the moment I'm proposing a general idea of how to organise a true market for digital content. I would expect the organising entity to take a small percentage fee for each sale, much as eBay does, but you could administer the actual payments using existing infrastructure, such as PayPal.

What stops Boris from simply giving Carol a copy of a work without any money changing hands? The honor system?

A combination of laws, norms, affordances and incentives.

Preventing someone who can see the work from copying it is impossible. The basic assumption at the root of this is that casual copying is not an economic threat, but republishing through this system or another global forum is.
The system needs to be perceived to be fair to the creator, such that copying without buying is clearly costing them money. Knowing who the creators are helps a lot in this, so creators may want to post photos and biographies to make the person being ripped off concrete rather than abstract.
It needs to be easier to do the right thing (pay, give credit) than not - this is what I mean by 'affordance'.
And finally, it rewards you if you get your friend to buy it instead of copying it without paying - like a loyalty rebate check or Amazon referral fees.

Why would anyone buy something sight unseen?

I would expect a promotional version of each work to be available - either an extract, trailer or lower quality version, with a link to the higher quality one. For example, with a mediAgora-enabled music playback program, you could send a playlist to your friends, and they'd hear their local copies of songs they had purchased, but the lower quality samples of the others, with an option to buy (with you as promoter).
Obviously promoters could write reviews or create other promotional works.

Copyright Kevin Marks 2001-2002