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Finnish Bureaucracy Takes Issue With Crowdfunded Textbook 149

Posted by timothy
from the grey-goo-of-the-big-s-state dept.
linjaaho writes "Senja Larsen, who runs popular Facebook study group Senja teaches you Swedish, collected $14,161 via Kickstarter's crowd funding service. The project caught much media attention in Finland (TV and all major newspapers), since it is the first crowdfunded book project in this country, and among the first Finnish crowdfunded projects. (Previous ones include the movie Iron Sky, the role-playing game Myrskyn Sankarit, and the Wishbone headphone wire manager). Now, after successfully collecting the funds for the book (and after the book has been edited and printed), the National Police Board of Finland has asked Senja to submit a statement [PDF; Finnish] concerning using crowdfunding to finance a project [PDF; Finnish] and the terminology used. It is possible that all the funding collected must be returned. The main problem is that direct translations of terminology at Kickstarter, such as 'bounty' and 'support,' are interpreted to mean collecting money without giving anything back, and this kind of operation requires a permit which can be only given to associations, not to private persons, and it takes long to apply for such permit."
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Finnish Bureaucracy Takes Issue With Crowdfunded Textbook

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  • by dnaumov (453672) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @06:49AM (#41272149)

    As can be seen from the lawyer responce (the "concerning using crowdfunding to finance a project [PDF; Finnish]" link in Summary, while asking for money while giving nothing in return in Finland requires a license, on Kickstarter, people submitting money are actually making a pre-order of a product (the book in question), so that particular law does not apply.

  • Re:.gov gone wild (Score:3, Informative)

    by Keruo (771880) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @06:55AM (#41272163)
    This legislation has very valid reasons to exist, it prevents money laundering.
    It's not bureucracy gone wild, just common citizen doing things without finding out all required details and getting slapped by government for not getting permits to operate.
    This stuff is taught in elementary school, maybe the author should have paid more attention at Yhteiskuntaoppi classes.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seumas (6865) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @07:20AM (#41272255)

    No. You are making a donation. Period. (Note that it is not a *charitable* donation, however). Kickstarter's literature specifically uses the word "donation".

    The only requirement for the project to receive your money is that, collectively, the amount of money pledged reaches their pre-defined goal.

    Kickstarter states that any promised rewards *should* be fulfilled, but those are essentially an aside to the pledge itself and if the reward is never fulfilled, you essentially have no recourse whatsoever. Well, that's not entirely true -- you can try to get it from the person who is running the project, but since Kickstarter never actually touches the money, they have no mechanism through which to refund you. Assuming they even would bother with a process to facilitate that -- which they probably wouldn't, since they aren't even willing to establish a process to vet submitted projects.

    In the few years that Kickstarter has been going, there have been no catastrophic horror stories. There have been a few scams detected while in-the-act and cancelled and there have been some that are taking their own sweet delayed time to fulfill them, but I think we're a good year and a half away from any potential major backlash due to lack of fulfillment. That's because projects really started to surge once Double Fine threw their hat in the ring and most projects after that won't be culminating for some time, still.

    Of course, you should get something if you're told that you're going to, but you should also not back a project with your rent-money. I think of every dollar I throw into Kickstarters as a spin at the roulette wheel. If it fails (to follow through), I paid the price of admission to go along for the ride and get the updates and see how the project goes. If it succeeds, I get something cool that I wanted, too. Not to mention, not every kickstarter is about "if you pledge $20, I'll give you a thing". Sometimes it's just "I want to produce a play in my town, please back me to get it going". Video games and board games get the most attention, but there have been some cool things like a project to massively automate the preservation and archival of a massive collection of black history photographs.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people immediately scream "REGULATION DURP DURP!". I don't see the point in that. You're free to chip in your money or not and the up and downside is clearly laid out. I think people who scream about that tend to misunderstand (and have never even visited the website). They somehow think you're literally investing in the project in a real way. As in, a way that would require filings and SEC administration.

    What is going to happen is that Kickstarter will remain the king for awhile and if they ever seriously falter, they will have to quickly get their shit together (vetting projects and getting more involved in their facilitation to assure backers -- perhaps even to the point of establishing SafeHarbor gaurantees like eBay and Amazon do for purchases from merchants that use their marketplaces)... or someone else will do those things and eat their lunch. Competition will ensure that if this remains a viable idea that the public is interested in, someone finds a way to improve upon it and make it more stable.

    In the meantime, I've paid out about $1,600 of about $5,000 in pledges. Had some great experiences (met some fantastic people I would never have imagined I would), got some cool games and albums, kept up with projects via lots of updates. Participated in community decision-making projects on some things I've liked, and jumped in as a beta tester (actual beta-testing; not the modern video game industry definition of beta-testing as marketing) and have seen some really passionate people rewarded with community interest in their projects. If I get screwed on a couple of projects, I'll get over it.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @09:59AM (#41273093) Homepage Journal

    Just because they aren't called donations doesn't mean that in reality they aren't.

    See also: waddling, quacking.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @12:55PM (#41274177) Homepage

    In the US, Kickstarter projects are subject to the FTC's Mail Order Rule. [ftc.gov] The Mail Order Rule basically says that if you order something, it has to be delivered or your money refunded within a specified time. The seller can specify a firm future delivery date, and if they don't, there's a 30 day default. Also, if the seller can't deliver, they must refund your money without you having to ask for it. The seller can ask for more time, but if you don't respond, they have to refund the money. This is a good rule; it keeps the mail order industry honest.

    In the early days of the Web, many companies that accepted online orders got into trouble with the mail order rule. Usually, this was because they had online ordering but a paper-based order fulfillment system, and accepted far more orders than they could fill. Then they made excuses rather than refunds. The FTC fined companies for that. Now, everybody serious has the shopping cart system connected to the inventory system, so the order isn't accepted if it can't be shipped.

    So Kickstarter companies in the US can get in trouble if they don't deliver. ZionEyes, with their vaporware "HD glasses", ran into this.

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