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Applicants: Christopher Bull
Affiliation: University of Otago (Computer Science and Internet Research Group of Otago), New Zealand, Artist Development Agency, New Zealand
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Christopher Bull
Coordinator: Christopher Bull
Project Start: 2010/07/01
Project End: 2011/06/31

Download budget Discussion

Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

I propose to build a standardised content sales processing system and set up a competent and transparent organisational structure to run it. By acting as a piece of standard middleware with the specific purpose of processing content sales transactions and maintaing a catalogue of content purchased by users, this system will allow creators of content to customise the way they sell and share their content with the world. In order to differentiate ourselves from the current incumbents and position ourselves on the side of the artists and consumers we will actively encourage the use of Creative Commons licenses within our system structure.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

This project will result in the production of a content transaction platform that could positively change, for the better, the content sales industry and the lot of content creators.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

Creative, digital, content producers (musicians, film-makers, visual artists etc.). This project will benefit these people by offering them a flexible, free and easy to use way to customise the way they sell and share their content with the />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

I hold an Honours Music Degree from the University of Otago and this project has evolved out of a combination of my Honours Dissertation research and myself and my friends' experiences as working creatives. This close involvement with both the research and creative communities as well as my experience as a freelance Web Developer and in creating my own start-up company (which I am currently preparing for launch) make me the ideal candidate for leading this project as I possess both the cultural contacts and the technological knowledge needed to be able coordinate a project like this.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

I will assess the effectiveness of this project on three core metrics: Total number of transactions conducted, number of Artist sign-ups and number of Developer signups. These three measures will show me: 1. How many transactions are being conducted and at what rate this metric is increasing or decreasing. This will enable me to measure the real impact of this service. 2. Artist signups and the rate hence will show how fast the service is being adopted and supported by artists/content creators. 3. The rate of adoption and acceptance by developers (a core measure of true success for a distributed system like this).

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

I expect to have a range of participants. Primarily these can be divided into a few major categories: Fundraising, Legal, Technological and Marketing/Evangelism. I hope to build a capable and effective team that includes people responsible for the Legal and licensing developments, the technological developments and people to coordinate a crowd sourced marketing campaign. As well as this I hope to open source the software development, so there will hopefully be a number of participants globally in this regard.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

By making it easier and more effective for artists to sell their content as well as encouraging them to release their content under Creative Commons licenses it is hoped that this service will serve to satisfy Creative Commons' objective to have more content available in the commons. By encouraging users to allow their content to be shared and modified as a culturally enriching activity it is hoped that this will help to reverse the content industry trend away from open creativity.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

This system will utilise a distributed database system, built in a language such as C++ or Java and hosted on an opensource environment (linux). It will need a capable and scalable array of server options in order to ensure maximum reliability and up-time.

This project is well beyond my coding abilities, however I can apply my experience in application design to act as an overall coordinator. I will need a technical lead with a more specialised and intimate knowledge of these systems in order to properly and effectively develop and deploy this service.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

The largest challenge currently is finding the computer programming talent to build this software, however I plan to overcome this by aligning myself with the Otago University Computer Science department and using my personal networks in order to get interested developers to come and work on the first version of this project.

The second major limitation is funding, however I hope that, with the partnership of various organisations such as The University of Otago and Creative Commons the initial startup costs can be minimised and thus funding will be required once we have a product and proof of concept out in the marketplace - a situation that should improve our chances of funding immensely.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

Given that the service will be acting as a conduit for processing transactions there is the opportunity to take a commission on all transactions in order to be self-sustaining. This would be the least preferable option, however as it would be more ideal if artists can be given all of their earnings through this service as not only is it a good marketing tool, it also leaves the artist with the largest possible amount of money, thus helping to encourage them to keep creating and hopefully allowing them to make a living off their art.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

This project is infinitely and globally scalable due to the technological nature of it. Given that we merely run a light-weight, middleware service and we are internet based there are very few technological scale limitations. The only realistic scale limitations could possibly be internationalisation ones (translations etc.) however given proper demand and crowd utilisation it should be possible to handle these obstacles as well through open and crowd sourced processes.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

Hosting, if the technological capabilities were acceptable. Enduring partnership branding and licensing advice support

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

This proposal is for funding to setup and formalise an organisation.