In the world of computer programming, which by no means is a freebies industry, there has now been over the span of 20 years plus, a movement to create free software, or software that is open-source. Free to use, free to distribute, free to modify for personal or commercial use. Do what ever you want with it. The biggest success story which today stands as a witness to the value of open-source is, of course, WordPress (the software that is powering this website).
What if these same principles could be applied to entertainment? What if we took our entertainment projects and worked on them in an open-sourced community sort of way? How would that change the ecosystem of the entertainment industry? Would it destroy it? Would it evolve it? Would it remove power from the powerful? Could it work? Should it work?
What does this look like?
We already live in a day of disposable entertainment, there is so much of it being generated at the moment thanks in part to YouTube, but also the ridiculously incessant content wars that are playing out amongst all the major streaming services right now. There is literally not enough time in anyone’s day to consume all that is being produced at present, not to mention the merits of spending any amount of time watching if at all even a fraction of it.
What if a franchise story like Star Wars or Spider Man became open source. Suddenly, anyone and everyone has the power to access any content generated by one of these mega franchises. What happens to the brand? Does it diminish or does it explode? In a very real sense, this already happens with fan art and video edits up to infinitum. But what if someone could take the script of a star wars movie and legally modify it without repercussions? What if, someone could take all the raw footage compiled for a Spider Man movie, and modify it as they pleased? What happens to that franchise: does it diminish, or become larger?
I understand the director’s cuts, all the artistic talent backed by millions of dollars that are spent to create original content, but do you really weaken your story by making it more available before the actual release date? Privacy of content and legal protections that help drive profits may be the old ways of doing things.
I don’t have all the answers. These are just some of the musings that were impressed upon my mind at the top of the morning today, after having spent some time fasting for direction in my business activities. (Fasting is always a worthy way to gain directed momentum along an other wise uncharted course.)