BitTorrent Discovery Fund Challenges Thesis That Piracy Harms Art

A new BitTorrent Discovery Fund will cough up the marketing budget for 25 artists struggling to reach a wider audience.

“You create it. You own it. We back it.

“We back creators. We don’t buy content. Because f**k content. Because music and film is more than that. Because outside voices need to be heard. The BitTorrent Discovery Fund is an open initiative dedicated to supporting a diverse group of creators seeking global distribution for uncompromising, original work.”

Wondering what “uncompromising, original work” might entail? BitTorrent has already chosen one of its funding winners: spacey dream anthology film collective:unconscious. Even in concept, the film is quite innovative: Each of the involved filmmakers wrote down a dream they had and then assigned it to one of the other directors to turn into a short film. You can watch the full feature, which received significant acclaim at SXSW earlier this year, below.

Polling filmmakers, musicians, and other creatives across various platforms, BitTorrent found that the most insurmountable struggle wasn’t getting work made, but getting it seen. Discovery, as it turns out, can be pricier than lifting a project off the ground.

“Last December, we asked independent artists to weigh in on the present and future of creative sustainability. Not surprising, creators identified direct-to-fan distribution as most significant digitally-driven change. 59% of artists said getting their work discovered is the biggest challenge they face in their own career, followed by fan outreach. Digital distribution lives and dies by discovery, which often leaves fresh stories untold.”

Taking this data into account, BitTorrent decided to drum up funding intended to get nearly completed work to the public. Through this process, the file sharing protocol hopes to break down commercial limitations that distort artistic vision.

“Over the next year, BitTorrent aims to partner with 25 creators by providing cash grants and promotional support to build impactful releases and discover new fans. We are looking for artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers and other creators working on uncompromised projects representing a diverse, original perspective seeking global distribution. This open, international initiative has a rolling call (so you can apply when your project is ready) and provides $2,500- $100,000 in marketing and distribution funding to use at your discretion.”

As BitTorrent simply provides the framework for files to be shared, it operates in a legal grey area that has prevented it from facing the raids and sanctions of other big names in torrenting, such as The Pirate Bay and KickAssTorrents. Its stated mission is “to build a better internet.”

“To work with people, industries and nations to create better ways to move information. Better ways for creators to make money. New ways for fans to engage, on their terms. Ways to sustain the stuff we share. The Internet promised us this much. And we promise to make good on it.”

The Discovery Fund isn’t the only advance BitTorrent has made into a new field lately. At the Republican National Convention, the company debuted a news channel. Erik Schwartz, media division vice-president, explained the intention of the new venture to Variety.

“Television news has been stagnating for some time. It’s having trouble appealing to a generation that grew up online. We’re building BitTorrent News to solve that problem. We are using superior data and tools and the Silicon Valley ethos of lean startup to build a nimble news organization that will learn quickly from user behavior.”

Think you’re an apt candidate for the BitTorrent Discovery Fund? You can apply for one of the slots online.

[Image via 360 B/Shuttershock]