The Business: Is P. Diddy's "Free Content" Model For Revolt TV Bad Business?
With all the buzz around Sean “Diddy” Comb’s recently-launched Revolt TV, the new company which pegs itself (per its twitter heading) as P. Diddy’s “1st multi-platform TV Network,” I’ve had a slew of people ask me if they think that the creation and launch of Revolt is “good” or “bad” for would-be contributors to their platform via Revolt’s “crowd-sourced” model to obtaining content. The trouble I’ve encountered with crafting a good response to that question, is that I think the question in and of itself is flawed to begin with.
Not to get on a Rumi-Osho-Confucious-like high horse (Ok, I lied, it looks like I’ll have to briefly jump on that horse to quickly illustrate my point), but few things in life are completely “good” or completely “bad.” Most things in life have an inherent duality of both “good” and “bad “ qualities. For example, I absolutely think that having a triple-scoop chocolate-hazlenut ice cream dessert is a “good” way to end a nice meal, but I also think that the cavities, fat/calories, and diabetes-inducing nutritional content to said desert is equally “bad.” When you are scrutinizing a new and nuanced development in the wild wild west we now know as the entertainment industry, the inescapable duality in all things rings even louder.
Yes, there are some aspects of Revolt TV’s crowd-sourced approach that some people might be rightly concerned about, but there are equally some pretty brilliant aspects behind Revolt too. It’s been reported that Revolt is seemingly taking a page from the Current TV format of programming where content will be “crowd-sourced.” Under a crowd-sourced approach, anyone can currently apply to be a part of the Revolt TV “movement” as a producer, on-air talent, reporter, curator, social-media personality, graphic artists, or videographer. However, upon submitting your application to Revolt Tv, the Revolt TV terms indicate, among other things, that you also grant Revolt, cost-free/royalty-free rights to your work, Specifically:
“the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise use and exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User-Generated Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any means or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same…”
In all honesty, as a lawyer in the entertainment business, language like this doesn’t really surprise me that much. I’ve come across language similar to this pretty frequently in the fine print behind various media contests and sweepstakes. It’s also not uncommon for production companies (just about anywhere) to require that a “submission release” be provided to them before a writer behind a TV treatment can pitch them on a new show, which essentially forecloses the ability of the pitching writer to sue to a production house for money or rights if the producer ends up using the treatment in part or as a whole. While these practices may seem drastic and unreasonable to the layperson, as a lawyer I suppose I’ve grown numb to the realities of the entertainment world. The rules of the entertainment game come with risks. Some people win, many people lose, but you can always sit the entertainment game out if you’re not feeling the stakes…or take inspiration to create your own game in the entertainment world, in whatever form that may be.
Though I can clearly see why many people may view Revolt’s “crowd-sourcing” model as unfair, the terms nonetheless provide a meaningful opportunity for content producers and personalities to potentially find wide-range exposure and acclaim on the Revolt TV Platform. Whether you have reason to rejoice or revolt about Revolt TV ultimately depends on what you personally value more – opportunity for your work, or ownership and compensation of your work.
On the one hand, you may have a potential content owner/creator that wants to own and control the rights to their work, and be compensated for their creation from Revolt, particularly when Revolt can theoretically stand to make millions off their ownership of your content–with zero obligation to pay you. On the other hand, you may have a potential content owner who hasn’t had the right opportunity yet to expose their rights and talents, and the potential exposure on Revolt, despite the Revolt terms and lack of pay, makes the experience worth it. While Revolt Tv is only in an infant stage of it’s launch, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be at least one, if not several success stories of content creators that launched careers from Revolt, and I’m pretty sure these content creators will have plenty of other opportunities beyond Revolt to make future business deals behind their creativity more on their terms.