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FairShare is an idea for a voluntary investment-based patronage system to replace patents and copyright while still ensuring that artists are fairly compensated. It was designed by Freenet creator Ian Clarke, Steven Starr and Rob Kramer in 2000, in response to allegations that artists would not receive adequate compensation for their work without enforceable copyrights. Starr came up with the name.
In the FairShare system, the investor/patrons would provide venture capital. Clarke envisions that 45% of the money invested in a given artist would go directly to that artist, while another 45% would be given to previous investors. The remaining 10% would be kept by the maintainers of each FairShare service company.
In some ways this model is similar to a pyramid scheme, but Clarke counters that a vital difference is that nobody would be promised a return on their investment. He argues that regardless of any profits, each patron would have the satisfaction of knowing that they supported an artist whose work they appreciate. Also, earlier investors would profit more, thus rewarding them for investing in artists before they became more popular. The early investors would serve a similar role to studios' talent scouts.
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