When podcaster Joe Rogan opened a ChangeTip account recently, many of his fans—and Bitcoin fans in general—began sending him microtips over Twitter in appreciation for his work. 

Blogger Ryan Walker took notice of one particular Reddit comment about Rogan’s stand-up special called “Rocky Mountain High”:

This solitary comment led Walker to write an entire post about how cryptocurrency-enabled microtipping could take off, which could lead to an entire restructuring of the way digital content is financed. Translation: the Comedy Centrals of the world may eventually be rendered unnecessary.

Because torrenting content—that is, simple file sharing—eliminates the need for third-party distributors like Comedy Central, distribution costs are slashed and digital entertainment becomes more affordable. Many people inherently sense that this is an improvement, but some on Reddit didn’t quite get it.

Upset By Change in Status Quo

A handful of Redditors responded with comments like:

This kind of thinking is called “reactionary,” which indicates a resistance to change. Reactionaries fail to realize that cutting costs is a great thing, and that content producers can adapt to changes in their financing.

Everyone knows that Joe Rogan doesn’t produce his podcast all by himself—that a whole production crew makes it possible. Reactionaries see an elimination of the finance model, but really, torrenting and microtipping just offer a change in the finance model. 

Currently, production crew paychecks usually come from giant third-party distributors (like Warner Brothers, Netflix or Comedy Central). Perhaps they could instead come directly from Rogan himself, and crew payouts could likely be bigger, as there’d be no more cut taken by the third party. No one knows exactly how content producers will adapt, but one thing is certain: they will.

Cryptocurrency Is Invaluable in the Realm of Non-Scarcity

Content tipping via ChangeTip could go even further than simply restructuring the finance model for digital entertainment. The voluntary contributions that Rogan’s listeners have been sending him—without any requirement that they do so—highlight the fact that Rogan’s podcasts aren’t actually “intellectual property.” In fact, they’re not property at all.

Why? Because there is no scarcity of them. One of Rogan’s podcasts could be copied an infinite number of times, at essentially no cost. 

Property rights—that is, claims to a house or a jacket or a cookie—only exist because these objects are scarce. But the Internet has introduced a kind of magical consumer good—digital entertainment—that is not subject to scarcity. Hence, no property rights can be claimed.

The takeaway? Torrenting and microtipping make digital entertainment financing possible, all without enacting property rights. 

The Idea Is Catching

ChangeTip was launched less than a year ago in early 2014. In a remarkable viral growth pattern, they recently secured $3.5 million in venture capital and angel investment to further their product offerings.

They hired their newest employee, Dan Held, as vice president of product management. He’s known for co-founding the highest-rated iOS Bitcoin app, ZeroBlock, and he is the former product manager for Blockchain.info.

Held recently said about Nick Sullivan, founder of ChangeCoin, ChangeTip’s parent company:

“Once Nick introduced me to the ChangeTip team and showed me their vision for the product, I knew it was a perfect fit and had to be a part of it. Tipping can ignite the viral growth that Bitcoin and micropayments need [in order] to go mainstream.”

In addition to its integration with social sites like Twitter, Reddit, GitHub and YouTube, ChangeTip enables Bitcoin tipping for individual’s personal websites via the Tip.Me widget.

A Decentralization in the Making

Amid the good news about torrenting, microtipping and ChangeTip’s plans for reaching ever more people, I noticed one piece of bad news: ChangeTip purposely makes its services unavailable to millions of people around the world who live in places like Myanmar, Iran and Liberia. 

Why? The states in these countries are labeled “non-cooperative” by an institution calling itself the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF demands that economic sanctions be placed on anyone living in countries that have states they don’t personally like.

Economic sanctions, as you may remember, are considered to be acts of war.

While ChangeTip acts as a very useful third party to enable social tipping, they operate on a centralized model. Centralized models, as you know, are prone to cave to demands made by institutions like FATF. So although ChangeTip is helping to grow the Bitcoin economy—that of decentralized money—one can only hope that decentralized economies will result. That way, our friends in places like Iran, Myanmar and Liberia will be able to join the party, as well.

Because no one should be deprived of tipping Joe Rogan for his podcasts.

Joe Rogan

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