Digital Art Auction

Welcome to The Digital Art Auction

What Is Digital Art?

It can be represented digitally, e.g. as binary digits.
It is contained in a single, discrete package or product, e.g. a file.
It is a record of a creative act or performance.

The Digital Art Auction

  • Sells unpublished, digital products: Music, Movies, Software, etc.
  • Enables the artist to sell the first copy the digital master once and for all
  • Embraces subsequent file sharing

What's it Good For?

  • Software closed or open source, e.g. computer games.
  • Open sourcing closed software, e.g. Blender.
  • Music recordings digital masters.
  • Movies selling the film into the public domain.
  • Pictures/Photos selling the high resolution original.
  • Books releasing the eBook version of a printed book under a Creative Commons license.
  • Commissioning of public works, e.g. sculpture.
  • Funding appearances by celebrities.

A Product Shared, A Price Shared

  1. The artist has a digital product they wish to sell to a large audience.
  2. They invite each member of their audience to propose a retail price theyd be willing to pay.
  3. This is in the form of a pledge or bid which represents a commitment to purchase a copy of the product.
  4. Once the maximum revenue available from these bids meets the artists requirements, the artist can close the deal.
  5. The artist picks the price and receives this maximum revenue. Successful bidders pay the price and receive a copy of the artwork.

A New Kind of Auction for a New Kind of Product

  • Digital artworks are a new kind of product
So you need a new sales mechanism, because the old one does not work!
Unlike tangible goods, digital artworks can be reproduced at zero cost. It therefore makes sense to sell the digital master rather than the manufactured copies, especially as once a single copy becomes publicly available it can erode further sales.
The Digital Art Auction is a logical sales mechanism for digital artworks. It is arguably more effective than attempting to make digital products uncopyable, i.e. via DRM.
  • An auction is ideal for ensuring payment in advance of release
Each bid represents the bidders opinion on the maximum equivalent retail price of the digital art on offer, and a pledge to pay the final price chosen by the artist if the artist releases their work.
Unlike traditional retail mechanisms that are designed for mass produced, physical goods with significant reproduction/manufacturing cost, the Digital Art Auction obtains the equivalent retail revenue before the art is released before it can be shared.
  • Sharing can be embraced once the deal is done
Any subsequent copying or sharing becomes beneficial promotion of the artist. Indeed, the legitimised freedom to share the artists work creates a positive reinforcement of the art and artist through an associated feelgood factor.
It feels so much better to share an artists work with their blessing than to feel criminal and in danger of litigation for copyright infringement.
  • The Digital Art Auction is highly equitable
The artist decides when the money upfront is a fair exchange for the release of their artwork. Everyone who pays anything, pays the same, fair price. Those who dont consider the price is fair, pay nothing, receive nothing.

A Revolutionary Revenue Model for Digital Content

  • The auctioneer charges a small commission, say 5%
Money for digital art. Digital art for money. No money, no art. No art, no money. Its a clear deal. If the deal happens, the auctioneer gets 5%, the artist gets 95% and the successful bidders receive the digital artwork.
  • There is no lockin, no contract to sign
Bidders and artist alike are free to walk away at any time. Bidders may retract or revise their offers, and artists may retract or adjust the specification of their product (bidders automatically notified). The auction runs for as long as the artist wishes it to (probably several weeks).
  • Marketing Remains Important
If the artist wants a better return they have to increase the number of bidders the artist and the auctioneer are interested in maximising the number of bidders in order to maximise revenue, the audience is also interested in this in order to expedite the sale.
  • Selling Directly Disintermediation
If the artist or developer can sell directly to even a small proportion of their total potential audience in a single transaction, the immediate revenue is likely to be preferable to the ‘drip feed and indeterminate royalties they might expect from traditional retail channels.
  • File Sharers are Free Market Makers
Once the auction is complete, the artwork is then likely at some future date to be shared by one or more of the successful bidders. Other people who receive a shared copy are either unsuccessful bidders, or people who were unaware of the auction. The former effectively assist in bringing the art, artist and the likelihood of further auctions to the attention of the latter, and thus help build the market and increase the number of bidders in future auctions.

There is an Establishing Precedent

In July 2002, a foundation was created to bring a software product called Blender out of the oblivion of a bankrupt company and into the public domain. The receivers placed a price of €100,000 on the product and within seven weeks several thousand contributors raised the necessary funds and the product was released. It can now be freely downloaded by anyone.

Is This Site Ready for Use?

In a nutshell, no. At the moment this site is only a prototype, primarily intended for testing and evaluation.
Feel free to create an account and explore this prototype by creating any auctions or bidding on any auctions.
However please note that this site is in continuous development. Content is subject to change without notice. Bugs are also likely to be present.

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