I just wanted to expand on why I decided to use Flattr, and why I think it's so important. I didn't want to make it sound like I was just raging against SOPA and PIPA some more, because I think we've all had enough of that for awhile.
We live in an age where everyone has the ability to create and express themselves–and to post their creations to the Internet, where they instantly gain worldwide exposure. At first it was limited to blogs, but now we have YouTube, Flickr, SoundCloud, and too many other sites to mention where people can share their thoughts, photos, songs, and whatever else.
I posted a couple weeks ago about wanting to be a professional writer, and how "giving up" on that dream affected me. Well, a big part of the reason I began blogging again is because I realized that a major reason I wanted to be a professional writer in the first place was to share my thoughts with the world–and I was a member of the first generation on earth that didn't need a book deal or a job at a major newspaper in order to do that.
My dad went to film school in a time when, in order to make a film, you had to have thousands of dollars in order to buy a camera, film stock, microphones, and an edit bay. And if you wanted anyone but your closest friends to see it, you had to get a distribution deal with a major film company who would put it in theaters. Now, you can have an HD camcorder in your pocket and you can edit it right on your computer. Then, you can upload it to the Internet for free.
Likewise, we now live in a time when the biggest pop star in the world, Justin Bieber, got discovered on YouTube. The barriers to entry for all major entertainment have been completely obliterated.
The Internet is wonderful because it lets anyone get worldwide exposure, but it's still hard to make a living off of it. Only the most popular online blogs and video channels can make money, so most people still turn to the established media outlets in order to make a living in the entertainment industry. I really hope services like Flattr can change that. I've been a consumer of online media for years, and I've gotten 99.99% of it absolutely free. I'll admit, I was pissed when Napster went down, and I used alternate free music and movie sites (KaZaa, Limewire, The Pirate Bay) for years afterwards.
But now the time has come for people to show their support for independent entertainers. The great thing about Flattr is that it lets you pay as much or as little as you want, and it lets you pay directly to those who provide your entertainment. I really hope it takes off, and I hope all my favorite entertainers decide to get on it.