Mmm… brains…

Posted on October 12, 2011

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This is a game I want to play.

More to the point, however, this is a website I want to use.  Will use.  Plan to use.  Soon.  To make money.  Lots of money.  Mmmm… money…

See, I’ve known what I wanted to do with my life since I was twelve.  But apart from the large amount of work that goes into writing a novel, I know practically nothing about getting published.  I’ve looked.  I’ve researched.  I’ve asked questions.  Basically, you can take two primary routes: send excerpts of your book to a publisher/agent, in the hopes that someone will like it as much as you; or know somebody in the industry.  And the latter approach still assumes that you’re trying for a publisher or agent to represent your work.

Kickstarter.com is a new approach.  I’ve known about it for a year or so, but never really considered it worth my time, mostly because I want to write books and it isn’t immediately apparent that Kickstarter is a good way to get funding to publish a book.  In fact, I’m still certain that it isn’t, but I haven’t delved into the website in search of authors.  I have, however, seen what it can do for people who design games.  And since I recently started work on a board game, I figure it just might be a good approach for acquiring capital.

Basically, Kickstarter works like this: you have an idea, you sign up (for free), and you post your idea on their website.  They do a lot of networking for you, by virtue of adding your project to their database.  You still need to do some networking to make sure people know the project exists.  Once you reach a tipping point–a combination of the strength of your project, your ability to sell your product, and your ability to make people aware of it–presumably you get enough funding to execute the project.

Beyond that, I can only guess about the process.  I know a project that fails to reach its funding goal receives $0, so it’s technically a safe investment for everyone: if it doesn’t get off the ground, no harm done.  After that, though… let’s just say that if I do use it, I’ll probably work out a business plan (production and marketing costs, networking, online sales, etc); it won’t do any good to put together an awesome project if I have no plans for spending the money.

Edit: It seems that Kickstarter wasn’t the first to try this approach to social networking / project funding.  This article explains the basics, but it boils down to this: one guy had an idea, and someone else had nearly the exact same idea some time later.  However, even though the first guy had a patent on his idea, the wording on the patent (as reported by said article) is far too vague.  Granted, I’m not a copyright lawyer, but I understand the English language as well as anyone else (better than most, probably), and it’s painfully clear that when “Brian Camelio, a former musician, filed a patent in 2003 for ‘Methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work,'” he was attempting to prevent everyone from copying an idea, not a method.

Copyright law works like this: I have an idea, so I put it in writing, and I submit it to the US copyright office.  They review it, and eventually grant me the copyright (assuming I haven’t made a serious error along the way).  However, and this is made very clear by the copyright office, I can never expect that the idea itself will be copyrighted.  See, copyrights apply to the final product, not the means of production.  In other words, Facebook can place a copyright on the programming used to build and maintain their website, but the idea of a social networking website cannot be protected.

So, as I understand it, this is the crux of Brian Camelio’s argument:

The patent is for a system of “raising financing and/or revenue by artist for a project, where the project may be a creative work of the artist.” The method includes “registering, by at least one artist, with a centralized database, at least one or more projects, offering, by the at least one artist, an entitlement related to the artist in exchange for capital for the project of the artist.”

… So, like, how is this specific enough to warrent a patent?  In other words, what’s to stop Google from violating the patent when it records a website in its database?  I could start a website through WordPress with the epxress purpose of generating support (i.e. revenue) for an idea; then, since my website is registered with WordPress, Camelio can claim that WordPress is in violation of his copyright.

Unless I’m misunderstanding something here.  I mean, I’m commenting on an article from another website.  It’s possible that the actual copyright details a more specific approach to organizing the whole system, in which case Kickstarter may be violating it by not being different enough.

Personally, it sounds like another Facebook issue.  Far as I’m concerned, someone beat him to it, and when you consider how long it takes to get a copyright these days, Kickstarter probably didn’t even know who this guy was before the lawsuit…

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