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TV Series 'Veronica Mars' Finds Crowd Funding

Crowd funding is hot! It has taken form in recent years, allowing anyone with a project, cause, or company to secure donations online in exchange for various gifts, or simply just for the sake of donating. Typically, sites like Kickerstarter, Indiegogo and Rockethub serve as conduits for the campaigns and their gift givers.

One recent example is Veronica Mars, the defunct TV series now poised to be a motion picture thanks to its wildly successful crowd funding campaign. Veronica Mars' Rob Thomas spearheaded the capital raising campaign via Kickstarter, attracting 91,585 backers donating over $5.7 million dollars! Not bad for what typically turns out to be a thirty day time frame. While not all campaigns are successful, the amount of money raised by this budding industry has caught the attention of Congress.

In April of 2012, the President signed the JOBS ACT and TITLE III of that Act permits equity crowdfunding: selling shares or units in your company in exchange for cash. Until the SEC issues rules as required by TITLE III of the Act, it's still illegal to offer equity in exchange for investments online; however, once that happens, we will see a whole new industry blossom. Entrepreneurs and other business people will be able to use third party intermediaries to conduct campaigns to raise capital online. There are parameters upon how it all works-the devil is in the details, but it's expected that sometime this year those rules should be in place to make this a reality.

Perhaps Veronica Mars could have set up a campaign for equity crowd funding, seeking investment in its production company. The cap per twelve month period for the production company would be $1 million; and the investors would have a stake in the company, but perhaps if you have a well known brand like Veronica Mars, you might want to stick to the donative model that they used (they raised more money). If you are the "next" Veronica Mars and don't yet have brand recognition or a proven fan/customer base, perhaps you might want to use the equity model (once legalized) so as to incentivize investors that even though you can only raise $1 million per year, investors may possibly make more on a return (the donative concept doesn't allow any return-it's just a gift).

Time will tell how this space evolves, but one thing is for sure, it will be a show worth watching!

FCC gets an #@!%

I’m seldom excited by the decision of the courts in our land. There are few surprises and most issues fall off my radar before any decision is made. By the time the courts actually get around to letting us know their take (and therefore the law of the land – at least for now), it’s rarely a hot topic.

July 13th, however, was a great day. The Second Circuit tore apart the FCC’s stance on censorship – namely that their arbitrary and fleeting definition of “patently offensive” was applied inconsistently and when applied, without substantive explanation.

Obscenity (and, ostensibly “patently offensive”) are personal definitions. Much as the court itself has struggled with defining “pornography”, the FCC had a poor policy and it applied it in a less than uniform manner. For some great examples, check the opinion yourself (just Google FCC and it’ll pop), it’s rare to see our judges have to delineate the nuances of curse words.

It’s personal. It’s age appropriate. It’s ours to control – change the channel or don’t watch.
I have a son. Though he’s too young to understand any salacious programming, I already find myself wanting to censor his reception. And this is where the control should be. Let me make the decision. Make me parent. Censorship doesn’t remove the content I want my son to avoid – it just softens it with lousy overdubs.

The next step would logically be an appeal to the Supreme Court. The current constitution of the Court will likely hold the decision and part of me wants to see an even lengthier dissertation on the absurdity of the FCC. What about you?