Open Eppic is an idea that enables freelance creators to officially use copyrighted characters and settings in their creations. At the very least, it will be an online platform that provides my own stories, characters and worlds for others to create with and explore.
It's like an author making fanfiction official for their characters and world. Sub-creators will enter into a contract and their work will be eligible for monetization.
Open Eppic has three kinds of customers:
Open Eppic is NOT:
The premise of this idea has been tried various times. The most successful and notable of these attempts was Kindle Worlds. Kindle Worlds allowed freelance writers to create stories in the worlds of G.I. Joe, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars and others. However, there were various issues with the service including a limited number of worlds to create in, copyright stripping, data mining, and regulations on what could be written. However, some writers found success and Amazon officially stated the project succeeded at all of its goals.
Technically, there's an unofficial agreement most creative universes have with sub-creators. For example, Disney could legally force every fanwork of its characters and worlds off the internet under copyright law. But they don't. It would be a lot of work, for one. But most importantly, Disney has made the unofficial agreement with sub-creators not to enforce their copyright on non-monetized fanworks. Disney gets free advertising and sub-creators are able to benefit from Disney's wide fame.
What hasn't been tried before is the way Open Eppic will operate. Keeping content family friendly, making contracts easy to enter into, reducing regulation, retaining as much rights as possible for sub-creators, and operating more as a cool contract management platform.
The first draft of this online platform is still in the process of being created. Even when it comes out, it'll be in the alpha stage. This will be the stage to test out if the ideas work, if there is enough interest in the project and to refine the background processes.
The working idea does require some upfront work by IPOs and sub-creators, but it may be the best way to go about it.
It would be wrong to say that IPOs are at the heart of Open Eppic, however, like consumers and sub-creators, the idea simply won't work without them. Without them, there would be no original characters or settings to create in or with. Of course, public-domain characters and settings would be available, but that just isn't as exciting.
J. Elias Epp would offer up his stuff for this project, of course. Hopefully, other owners would too.
An owner would come into the site, make an account and log in. They would then have the option of uploading a book of theirs to offer on the platform for sale or for free (alpha won't have ecommerce enabled). From there, in order to make their story available to others, they would have to register its unique elements.
This would start with a general world description and the elements that set it apart from others. Also, any pictures of this world. This is kind of like a summary of the smaller elements. Then the IPO would include the name/s, description and picture of any of their unique characters, settings, items or even the specific plot. Plots are difficult to copyright because they are so much the same. Plots are only protected if, say, someone creates entirely new characters and setting, but then follows the exact storyline of say, Harry Potter. (Harry Potter is just an example).
Another example would be the movie Thor. (Disney is just an example). The IPO would have to have a general description of the Nine Realms. Then, they would create a character listing for Thor, Loki, Odin and any other notable characters unique enough to be set apart from any other known characters. Then they would create a listing for Thor's hammer. Lastly, they might end it with creating a listing for Asgard, perhaps the throne room in Asgard, Yodenheim and any other specific place or unique small place. However, a listing for Nine Realms "Earth" could not be made. Especially since it operates, more or less, the same as present day. You can't copyright reality.
In any case, it starts with original elements being made available on the platform.
A sub-creator uses the characters and settings and possibly the plots of IPOs to create their own stories or works. They simply create freely, while identifying those unique properties they're using, like Thor's hammer, and attach those to their submission, submit their story for family friendly review, then when approved they've entered into an easy contract with the IPO of Thor.
The cool thing about sub-creators is they can be IPOs at the same time! They may use unique elements from other people, but they can also list any unique elements they they've thought up themselves! Characters, items, magic systems and settings! Then, others will be able to enter into easy contracts with them too!
Consumers obviously do a lot to drive the community and market. The essential interactions they will have will be with the search, content display, community, and store aspects. Instead of treating them like a dollar bill, Open Eppic will be looking to recognize the value they bring to the platform. Consumers create comments, ratings and help moderate the platform.
What are other ways consumers can be invited to be closer to the community and platform? Perhaps they'll be able to offer edit suggestions, and if those suggestions are approved by a sub-creator or IPO, then the consumer may get some kind of reimbursement for their input. Or, perhaps one of their comments inspire or encourage a creator. They may be eligible to receive something there too. It may be monetarily negligible, and it may not even be "points" but gifts of other natures. Some of this kind of thing has been exampled by Reddit or Gaia and it is obvious how popular those ways of interaction are. There's a lot of possibility for inviting consumers into creation processes, not to mention finished works.
This would mainly come from easy contracts based off of "marketing power". Marketing power would essentially be a makeup of things like social media following, book sales and other relevant metrics to decide a person's final "Tier". This tier would then be compared to the combined, or averaged tiers of the IPOs the person is creating with to decide what their share of the proceeds would be.
A person might have multiple works that all have different contracts. Perhaps those contracts are revisited every year. Those contracts would be refreshed and a person's tier, if changed, would reflect in a change of their share of the proceeds.
John Doe has a combined social following of perhaps 250 people and has never sold a related product in his life. His tier would likely be "1". He creates in the world of Jane Doe and she has a tier of "20", she's really well-known and popular. The terms of the contract have Open Eppic taking say, a static percentage of 20% of the proceeds. It also says that sub-creators, at minimum, receive 20% and at maximum receive 60%. That goes for the IPO too. Because John Doe only has a tier of "1", he gets the minimum share of 20%. This is Open Eppic protecting the time and effort John has put into his creation, but also respecting the fact that Jane's popularity is being used by him. Fame is generally fleeting and difficult to acquire. Though John doesn't have much to gain monetarily by creating with Jane's elements, he has a lot to gain in popularity.
Now, let's say that John's creation gains him a good bit of attention. His following on Open Eppic increases to, say, 5,000. Maybe that increases his tier to "7". Not only does he get a better contract with Jane, maybe 30/50, he decides to create in the world of Ben Doe who also has a tier of "7". Since their tiers are the same, they split it right down the middle, 40/40.
Maybe John decides to create in a public domain element, Dracula, for instance. Because no one can own Dracula, he gets the full 80% portion and Open Eppic gets 20%.
Perhaps Jane Doe really likes what John has been doing. She creates with one of John's elements. Because she has such a big following, again, John has a lot to gain from attention because his number is lower. Initially, John's tier of "7" puts him in a contract of 30/50. But, perhaps the attention Jane gives him starts making him really popular. After a year, the contract changes because John's following has increased. For another year, he'll now have a 40/40 share in Jane's creation.
There's other ideas too. Perhaps an artist wants to capitalize on the popularity of Jane's new book with John's elements. So, the artist creates an alternative cover. Consumers can then choose a different cover at checkout, or even buy extra covers or art.
Or, perhaps there's someone who's good at editing. As they read through John's writing, they make markups of what he could do better. John has the option of going through those edits and accepting changes or denying them. The editor might receive something for that.
Another interesting idea would be adding people to the platform who were "inspirational" to the work. Perhaps there would be a permanent 1% of proceeds reserved for inspirational people, worlds or characters. Though not much, inspiration isn't protected by copyright and this would be more directed and moderated by the community. For Open Eppic, this would mostly be a social way to recognize and reward the amazing innerweb of ideas.
Of course, there may be questions like; if John has many of the same followers as Jane does and he got most of them from Jane, is he really eligible to have a higher tier when creating within her work? Perhaps this is a case where they cancel each other out and each may receive a lower tier. Or, maybe nothing changes. Perhaps the very fact that a work has been made from the worlds of two people a person follows means they'll be that much more likely to engage with it. John adds additional value because he shares followers with Jane. This will be something left for discussion, and there likely won't be consensus on it. Again, Open Eppic seeks to provide a balance, and has to, between consumer, sub-creator and IPO.
Open Eppic, for its part, would be responsible for wider distribution of content outside of the platform. This would be things such as publishing to Amazon or even managing the contracts for movie deals. This would mean that not all creations would be worth wider publication due to their quality. The community could help identify promising candidates, but Open Eppic would also want to encourage interaction with "under-served" creations. Theoretically, underserved creations would have an inherent incentive to create for them. A tier "1" creation would offer larger monetary reward if a tier 5 sub-creator were to use it. Open Eppic would attempt to increase traffic to underserved creations further by reserving a spot on the search or featured page.
What if an IPO doesn't like your creation in their universe? Open Eppic's basic terms and conditions would essentially create a baseline and culture for that. Instead of giving an IPO the power to kick a creation off the platform because it contains their creation, Open Eppic would limit this severely. Anyone hosting their creation on Open Eppic would have to agree to allow it to be made available for at least a year. Then, any creations made from it would also be allowed to be on the platform a year from their creation. However, an IPO would be allowed to restrict creations to be distributed outside of Open Eppic. This is because the IPO is the owner and promoter of their branding. While they might be okay with hosting their creations on a closed platform like Open Eppic, allowing sub-creations to populate on Amazon and other places might confuse or negatively affect their branding.
What if an IPO wants further control over sub-creations? Things like, not wanting a specific character to enter into relationships with another? Open Eppic understands that a person's creation is sometimes very personal to them. However, it must balance this with the need sub-creators have to create as freely as possible. Open Eppic would have base limitations to the kinds of content allowed, namely revolving around family-friendliness. After that, there wouldn't be restrictions to what gets posted. However, to encourage IPOs to come to Open Eppic, the platform may allow a splash page for each of an IPO's creations. There would be a "community" splash page sorted by the most popular content and other metrics for an element. Then there were be the IPO splash page. This splash page could be managed by the IPO and they would have the ability to feature content that they like. This would act as a kind of "soft" censorship. Those works that an IPO doesn't like would still be searchable by popularity and other metrics, but, the IPO could list what they like on the splash page as well as rules. This provides for the portion of creators and consumers following not just an element like Thor, but Disney or an author. This way, sub-creators will be able to know what content an IPO likes and create for that specifically. An IPO would be able to direct a community through what they support, if a community is willing.
Open Eppic would be an attempt to provide for the niche that is community-expanded content and do so in a way that respects all parties involved. Not to mention, be an agent that makes ideas flow more freely.
This, all inspired by God's own design for this world. All humans on earth are sub-creators of what God has created and he hasn't copyrighted any of it. This world and humans aren't perfect like God is, so Open Eppic attempts to support freedom of creation within a corrupted world.
If you have ideas, comments, questions, encouragement or support, feel free to reach out to me!