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Nina Paley: A ‘Free’ Distribution Case Study

People talk a lot about the economics of giving content away for “free”, but only a few put that into action. And fewer still share their experiences with everyone so we can learn from them.

Here Nina Paley gives a methodical breakdown of where she made money (and where she didn’t) after she put her feature-length animated film, Sita Sings the Blues, under a share-alike Creative Commons license. (By the way, I’ve posted the film below. Why not? It’s free).

: Theatrical distribution revenue was about $22k, of which Paley garnered about $3k.

Paley earned most of her money through donations. Over $50k. Proving that audiences want to be able to pay the artist for their work. Donations fall under the patronage category under Kevin Kelley’s guide to generating revenue under a “free” economy. Read Kevin Kelley’s essay here, Better than Free.

Here’s the film! (PS It’s great)…

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  1. NFB should be providing all film catalog free online. Canadian culture should be easier for Canadians to access than American culture. While Hulu is blocked for Canada it presents an opportunity for a Canadian service to entertain instead.

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