ArtsWatch: Crowdfunding's Fastest $1 Million

Kickstarter "Veronica Mars" movie raises millions in a day
March 18, 2013 -- 6:25 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

"Veronica Mars" Kickstarter Campaign Shatters Record
On March 13 "The Veronica Mars Movie Project" Kickstarter campaign raised $1 million of fan-pledged crowdfunding in less than five hours, and met its $2 million goal in less than 11 hours, making it the largest Kickstarter campaign, and the fastest to reach $1 million. The Warner Bros. television show "Veronica Mars," starring Kristen Bell, was canceled in 2007 and fans have wanted more ever since. The morning of March 13, show creator Rob Thomas posted on Kickstarter, "No Kickstarter project ever has set a goal this high. It's up to you, the fans, now." Interviewed by Entertainment Weekly later that day Thomas said, "Holy cow. We better make a good movie. These amazing fans have stepped up. We better deliver." Participating backers received no equity stake in the project, which is slated to be released in 2014. Observers have expressed concern whether Kickstarter "is starting to wear itself out" and analysts have detected a slight decline in funding success rates, but more than 5,000 music projects were funded last year, including more than $1 million raised by Amanda Palmer. On the film front, the site's projects have progressed from nominations to wins this year, with Innocente taking home an Oscar for Documentary Short Subject in February and a half-dozen prize winners at Sundance Film Festival in January. Internet infringement has long depleted creatives' coffers. Online sales took years to become encouraging and monetized streams are only beginning to feel more substantial for artists. The fact that $2 million has now been raised for a creative project in less than a day on the Internet is very good news.

Ofcom's Impressive Online Infringement Report
British regulator Ofcom released its second quarterly study tracking online consumer copyright infringement on March 7, surveying the period from August to October 2012. Their first report, released last November, noted high levels of ignorance in the UK about "what is legal and what isn't." The main body of this year's report found few variations from before; however, copyright ignorance was reduced by 3 percent, and the percentage of online music listeners who sometimes pay for their music increased by 4 percent. An annex to the report provides separate results for individual content types such as music, film and games, providing a granularity of detail that U.S. antipiracy advocates should envy and consider emulating.

Capitol Hill Briefing On The Copyright Alert System
On March 8 the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus held a briefing entitled "Combating Piracy Online: The Copyright Alert System, A Voluntary Approach" at the House of Representatives' Rayburn House Office Building. CAS began its implementation phase in February, led by the Center for Copyright Information, which includes major Internet service providers and an advisory board of consumer advocates. The event panel consisted of CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser, CCI's consumer advisory board, executives from ISPs AT&T and Verizon, and content industry associations MPAA and RIAA. Covered by Broadcasting & Cable and The Hill, and available as a video webcast on C-Span, the panel provided extensive details of the CAS program's specifics and philosophy. "We want this program to be targeted to people who are going to respond to it," Lesser said, adding that educational efforts will be focused on residential users of peer-to-peer file-sharing services.

Major European Rulings Reinforce Basic Copyright Principles
The European Court of Justice ruled on March 7 that Internet TV rebroadcasters such as UK's TVCatchup must obtain authorization from broadcasters before retransmitting their signals. The U.S. National Association of Broadcasters applauded the decision saying, "those seeking to retransmit U.S. broadcast signals over the Internet should be required to do no less." Separately, on March 13 the European Court of Human Rights reviewed claims by several of the Pirate Bay defendants that their prosecution for online copyright infringement in Sweden had breached their freedom of expression. The court found Swedish authorities correctly used their latitude to balance expression with protection of copyright and rejected the Pirate Bay's claims as "manifestly ill-founded."

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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