GEMA’s ‘Fair’ Alternative Collection Agency Grows (Interview)
Promising to create ‘a fair and flexible alternative to GEMA’ which operates ‘without threats and intimidation’, new German collections agency the Cultural Commons Collecting Society (C3S) has collected almost €90,000 so far from their first crowd funding venture.
Passing the success threshold of €50,000 some time ago, C3S nevertheless set out to raise €200,000, a target that’s looking increasingly difficult with the first deadline set for September 30.
Chatting to Skruff this week, project leader and spokesperson M.eik Michalke insisted he’s happy with C3S’ progress, however, and spoke in detail about what they hope to achieve. (Click here to donate and for more information: http://www.startnext.de/en/c3s )
Skrufff: What does it mean passing €50,000, why is 200,000EUR important?
Cultural Commons Collecting Agency: “For the past three years until now, the project literally had no funding except for donations from a friendly society, OpenMusicContest.org e.V., which is the representative of the initiative.
We’re now about to found a European Cooperative which will at a later moment formally apply for permission to act as a collecting society. Once the cooperative is founded, it needs some capital on its own. We estimated that €50,000 is the minimum to keep up our work, so we set that amount as the funding threshold for the crowdfunding campaign.
Having passed it means that we will actually receive all the funds which were given to us in the campaign, up until September 30th. In the meantime, we’re glad we’ve also been recommended for €200,000 worth of funding by the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia. But to actually claim this state funding, we must produce the same amount ourselves before the end of this year. So that’s why we also set the more ambitious goal to collect €200,000.”
Skrufff: What happens if you fail to reach the target- what are the next steps for C3S?
Cultural Commons Collecting Agency: “The worst case scenario is this: When you add the founding capital which we collected separately from the crowdfunding, we can already expect to have at least €120,000 to work with next year. Once this meets the €200,000 threshold, adding the state funding we’d have at least €400,000.
The difference between the two sums represents the time it will take us to complete the preparations and actually become a collecting society. Money is simply an accelerator here, because more funding means more people will be able to dedicate themselves to the project. We need to build the full infrastructure of a working collecting society from scratch — it all has to be in place before we can even apply for the permission.
For now, this most importantly means a certain amount of computer programming and IT services. These systems will be at the heart of the C3S, and it needs to beat before we can connect everything else to it.”
Skrufff: One of the great criticisms of GEMA is their lack of transparency- how do they justify it?
Cultural Commons Collecting Agency: “Well, we can’t speak for GEMA. For all we know, they say it’s due to the complexity they’re facing, and they’re expecting us to run into the same problems.
We don’t believe that, because we have the opportunity to start something new, with all todays’ demands already in mind, and transparency is high on our list of priorities.
We are sure we will meet our own share of practical problems,especially during the first years while we’re testing and adjusting. But solving these problems is a matter of creativity and cleverness, and we wouldn’t have started this enterprise if we didn’t actually enjoy this kind of work.”
Skrufff: Why do German authorities continue to rubber stamp GEMA’s monopolistic activities and seemingly stubborn refusal to operate more fairly?
Cultural Commons Collecting Agency: “You’re dealing with a long running system. Systems tend to repel change, because change threatens stability. This is even easier if you’re in the position of a monopoly. It is one of the main reasons why we decided to establish something new right next to the existing system, and not keep on wasting our resources in attempts to achieve some reforms.
We’ve tried that for several years, and at first it looked like the more promising approach. But we had to learn that it didn’t get us anywhere. As we see it, taking the risk and trying something all new now is the best, if not only way to actually change this current situation.”
Skrufff: What reaction if any have you had from GEMA towards your project?
Cultural Commons Collecting Agency: “They recently started to show they’re acknowledging us as an imminent competitor. For instance, we were granted our FAQ section on GEMA’s webpage. GEMA is also changing its policy towards Creative Commons licenses, at least in press statements, something they’ve rejected for years.
There was even a rash Twitter message on the official GEMA channel, stating that there’s no policy shift but GEMA offered CC licenses to it’s members for a long time already, which for obvious reasons had to be disclaimed only a few minutes later. All of this wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for us, so competition is already showing its impact, even before we’re officially founded.”
Skrufff: Anything to add?
Cultural Commons Collecting Agency: “One important thing is for all your readers to ask themselves whether they really want the current situation to change or not. Now is the chance. But then it’s probably not enough to just like the idea. We ask everyone who sympathizes with our views to support us in the crowd-funding campaign and help us to reach the €200,000 goal.”
Jonty Skrufff: https://twitter.com/djjontyskrufff