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Copyleft or Copyright

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Tools of the Trade

Copyleft or Copyright

by Stephen Fantl

Into the new paradigm

The world of publishing is about to change in a very dramatic fashion.

Publishers and distributors are about to find that the proverbial cat that s been hiding in the WWW has just escaped its bag. The form it takes is called the "Free Digital Library" (FDL).

Free at the FDL does not necessarily mean without cost, it defines free in the sense of "Freedom". For example, the open software movement gives to humanity their source code, the code is free as opposed to being an intellectual property right belonging to a single entity. This means the information is allowed to evolve and be shared for the benefit of all humanity. This concept of information being the intellectual property of all humanity can be termed "Copyleft".

The legal mechanism called "copyleft" assures:

  • The author will be perpetually acknowledged in any use of her or his creative Works
  • The Works will not become private property
  • The Works remain available to inspire and be built upon by other creative minds

The creators of the FDL have two simple goals:

  1. Attract and expand a knowledge base of Free Information;

The people who created the FDL make very clear a few points about the their creation:

  1. The project has no owners, stockholders, officers, or managers - only volunteers, donors, participants, and users.
  2. It is "owned" by its users and exists solely in service to them.
  3. It provides zero-cost services and "owns" absolutely nothing.
  4. It was built, will change, and be operated entirely through volunteered time and effort, donated services, and financial support (if necessary).
  5. It has been scrupulously constructed as a "human experiment" with no restraints on direction, speed, or content, It will "go" wherever and "carry" whatever Free Information is determined by its users.

Here's how It works. Creators of digital information use the FDL library of links to place their link to their information, providing the ability to freely self-publish. If Creators of digital work wish to commercially distribute their product for commercial compensation then they go through a different process.

The Commercial Distribution and Compensation process is one of the most unique aspects to what the FDL represents. At first glance the compensation plan looks akin to a chain letter, the differences being built in authentication, tracking ability, and verification controls for the distribution process. For example, if someone orders the offered product and does not pay you or information you ordered from a distributor does not arrive, then you would report them on the appropriate Peer Review site. If someone is selling information that is valueless (at least in your opinion) then you can review their work on the Authors Peer Review page. Since you have many "letters" to choose from that you might like to distribute, it's up to you to choose what you think is worthwhile. If you think none of the current Distribution Notices is valuable then provide your own creative works that can be distributed.

The Distribution Notice offers four articles by four distributor sources. Digitally self-published information is attached at each of the four levels that are sold for five dollars each. The author and the article never change positions, only the current distributors change when a new person chooses to participate because they will put their name and payment instructions in position one while moving everyone else up one level. Each work is $5.00 so your total cost to own and redistribute all four products is a one time $20.00 outlay.

The sources and titles will look something like this when you receive the e-mail offering the products and your opportunity to become a distributor:

  • Source 1 Position 1: Mary x - Article in position 1 title and Author
  • Payment details (Paypal account or address)
  • Source 2 Position 2: Bobby x - Article in position 2 title and Author
  • Payment details (Paypal account or address)
  • Source 3 Position 3: Jane x - Article in position 3 title and Author
  • Payment details (Paypal account or address)
  • Source 4 Position 4: David x - Article in position 4 title and Author
  • Payment details (Paypal account or address)

Here is a Hypothetical situation that shows how the process works:

  1. Source '1' sends e-mail introducing the copylefted articles for sale and distribution to you.
  2. Upon recognizing the apparent value of the Works offered, you decide to order all four and send a $5 payment to each Source listed on the notice (the four authors or distributors through whom the notice has passed). Additionally, you must reply to Source 1 to request the Delivery Instructions for the entire set of Works.
  3. Upon receiving your e-mail request Source 1 responds to your e-mail address with the Delivery Instructions for the set of Works (shown as Works 1, 2, 3, and 4). By taking ownership of the set of Works, you have agreed to make the $5 payments to each of the four Sources (the four Sources listed on the Notice to which you are responding) in exchange for their efforts in the creation and distribution of the set of Works.
  4. After initiating payment and following the Delivery Instructions, you now own the four copylefted Works. You resell in the same way in which they came to you (becoming yourself a new Source 1). By applying the same methodology in which you received the Works, you e-mail the same Delivery Instructions you received, in Step 3, to the others who responded to you're Notice.

In a nutshell, by purchasing, thus owning copylefted Works, you have also received permission to sell them to others in the same manner you purchased them should you choose to do so. This model when coupled with verification and authenticity controls is a very effective and equitable tool for remunerating authors and participants who are interested in making money distributing Free Information. Even if you are not the author you can purchase a notice from someone like myself, pay a total of twenty dollars, five paid out to each four distributors, and then you would be returned an appropriate sum based on your efforts. Look at the math of this logarithmic distribution system.

Let's assume for our first example that between everyone there is an average of ten people per person with whom they distribute the information to who will do the same.

  • 1st level: your 10 members each pay you and the other three people on the list $5.00
  • ($5 x 10) = $50
  • 2nd level: 10 members from each of those 10
  • ($5 x 100) = $500
  • 3rd level: 10 members from each of those 100
  • ($5 x 1,000) = $5,000
  • 4th level: 10 members from each of those 1,000
  • ($5 x 10,000) = $50,000

Remember that this assumes the people who participate recruit 10 people each. Consider what happens if they got 20 people to participate! It is common in the MLM industry for people to have hundreds of participants in their personal networks. However, because the width of your network is entirely self-determined, lets look at other network widths of 2 and 6 progressions.

2-person progression: 1st Level = $10 - 2nd Level = $20 - 3rd Level = $40 - 4th Level = $80 for a total of $150.00

6-person progression: 1st Level = $30 - 2nd Level = $180 - 3rd Level = $1,080 - 4th Level = $6,480 for a total of $7,770

The potential that this type of distribution and compensation package offers is truly staggering. It is a Win/Win/Win scenario for the Authors, distributors, and even the public as a whole since knowledge and information are being freely (Copylefted) circulated. Because the information you can purchase and resell is dipped from the endless stream of creative input flowing into the Free Digital Library, you can do it all again with entirely fresh information. That is, you can promote new information to your first generation Referral Group who originally purchased from you the first time round; as well as to any additional participants you attract into your organization, and each of them can repeat exactly the same thing with their respective first generation Referral Groups.

Do you see the power and potential once you have your first generation? When you get a new opportunity you will simply hit one button to offer it to everyone who made money with you previously. If someone you know did not succeed, then buy a notice from them and send it to your network, the person you bought it from (who didn't collect much) will now be assured to collect almost as much as you. How much you are making is up to you. To help with that I have links at the bottom of the page that will take you to places you can advertise on the Internet for free, follow these links and you should do phenomenal.

Although the Free Digital Library may be the first to employ this method of controlled logarithmic marketing, it certainly will not be the last. The site will be active by August 18, 2000 and will have at least two notices available for distribution. Implementing these distribution & publishing concept signals the beginning of the end for competitive publishing and distribution practices. Remember that you can publish digital art, digital music, software, creative writings, and even digital video through the FDL and begin to reap the economic benefits of your creative and energetic output. And why shouldn't you? I welcome your feedback.

If you find this concept interesting, you can visit the FDL at <>, <>, or <>,. If you have questions or you would like to receive the first and most immediately available distribution notice, which is only sent out by individuals, never by the FDL itself, please e-mail: <> with the Subject: "Distribute".

Have fun publishing!

Stephen Fantl is the Executive Director of S.A.F.E., a sustainable farming and organic agricultural Non-profit working on sustainable community models. Funding for the S.A.F.E. project will come from distribution by volunteers of their creative works through the FDL.


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