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Crowdsourcing has come to represent everything unethical about working with creative people. It is almost always synonymous with spec-work, or contests where everyone is making work for free hoping to be named the winner and receive the fabulous prize. Sadly, by design, 99 percent of the entrants will be labeled losers and the contest organizer will get to chose from a big pool of work that they didn’t have to pay for.

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Why We're Crowdsourcing Art for Classic Book Covers

A crowdsourced collection of original cover art for 50 of the greatest works of fiction in the public domain like Moby Dick and Les Miserables.

The idea of the "public domain" goes all the way back to ancient Rome (probably further), where the law prohibited certain things from being owned by citizens because they existed for all to enjoy—like air, sunlight, and the ocean. As societies around the world advanced, copyright laws emerged to protect the interests of the content creators, and soon only work that was too old or uninteresting "fell" into the public domain.

In the United States, the first federal copyright legislation (the 1790 Copyright Act) set the maximum term of ownership for content creators at 14 years, with the ability to renew for another 14. Then Congress doubled that term (several times) before they changed it to the number of years after the life of the creator, then they added more time after that. Protecting copyright for 70 years after the creator's death (as is the standard now) does a great job of protecting the large corporations and media companies with vaults of content to profit from, but this leaves that much less content for the rest of us to watch, remix, and enjoy without paying for it.

It doesn't have to be so all-or-nothing. Content can and should be reasonably available to everyone—and content creators should be reasonably compensated. Luckily, new technologies for the creation and distribution of content are making this process more possible and democratic every day. Our latest project, Recovering The Classics, is an attempt to highlight just a glimpse of what's possible when we embrace the public domain.

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Why Mobilizing Artists Around Gun Control Will Change the National Conversation

The Gun Show asks artists to make posters about gun control in order to raise national awareness around the issue.

It's been a couple of months since we launched The Gun Show and started asking artists to make posters about gun control in order to raise national awareness around the issue. We've been experimenting with large-scale creative collaborations for years, but unlike uniting behind a candidate for President, exploring the real meaning of conversation, or helping to advocate environmental action, inviting artists to make work about gun control comes with its own unique obstacles that we feel it is our job to remove. Because despite knowing so many artists who want to work on social impact projects, and so many organizations who desperately need to be more creative (and know it) they still exist in separate worlds. This leaves very little opportunity for organic collaboration.

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