Digital Culture

A return to patronage

After reading the recent Wired report on The Pirate Bay, I had a thought: will, after everything shakes out legally, the copyright battles lead us back to a form of patronage?

Imagine a world where individuals pay artists directly, without the corporate middle man eating the artists profits. If I like a song, I can send the artist a micropayment via my computer or cellphone saying “thanks”. Music could be shared, and musicians could be rewarded by increased attendance at their live performances, sales of other merch, and the goodwill of the fans. I know that I for one would be FAR more likely to paypal $20 a couple of times a year directly to Ryan Adams or Counting Crows than I would to buy their CDs. The CD feels dirty by the time it hits shelves, and the reality is that the artists see very little of the actual cash made by their work.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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