Version 1.3, 12 sep 2009

written jointly by Francis Muguet and Richard Stallman.

French Translation


This declaration states the basic principles of the Global Patronage system ( As a brief summary, network users pay a fixed contractual sum (not a tax in the usual sense) which is collected by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), then distributed to Copyright Collecting Societies (CCS) and Donation Collecting Societies (DCS), for subsequent payment to authors and artists. The network users determine how the payments are divided, not by the works they use, but by their appreciation of these works. Thus, each one becomes a patron. There is no need for intrusive surveillance (expensive and practically impossible) of the data flowing on the Internet, which endangers individual freedom,

The juridical mechanism of the Global Patronage system does not rest on an exception to copyright, as in the case of radio and photocopying, or of the proposed "global license" which extrapolates from them. There is therefore no need to create a new exception, but rather to manage copyright through laws and regulations introduced into the existing contractual relationships that connect Internet users with their ISPs, and the authors and artists with their collecting societies.

The Global Patronage system is a new scheme which can potentially apply to all the kinds of digital works which are transmitted on the Internet, regardless of how that is done. It can even finance the on-line press and blogs.


In general terms, the plan of the global patronage system is that

1) Each internet user is free to distribute on a non-commercial basis, copies of works already published by an author or artist who belongs to a Copyright Collecting Society Copyright Collecting Society (CCS) /or a //_Donation Collecting Society_// (DCS)./

2) Each internet user has the choice between

a) not subscribing to the Global Patronage system, and, in the case of countries or ISPs which impose surveillance or filtering to prevent sharing, paying a monthly fee to cover the cost of that system. It would be inequitable to impose those cost on those who subscribe to the Global Patronage system.

b) subscribing to the Global Patronage system, and paying a fixed monthly fee to the ISP for the support of authors and artists.

[One can envisage the system with or without the option to not subscribe -- rms]

3) Each internet user may freely assign parts of his/her fixed contribution to works that he / she chooses, up to a legally fixed maximum percentage.

4) Contributions not explicitly assigned in that way are allocated according to a non-linear function, designed to reduce the differences in support for between various artists and authors, in order to promote diversity and new talents.

5) /_Donation Collecting Societies_// (DCS) are created to enable the financing by Internet users, of digital works./

The legal scheme of the global patronage is based not on an exception to the exclusive rights of authors, but rather on public policy provisions in the various contractual relationships which are binding respectively:

a) Internet users with their Internet Service Providers (ISPs), b) ISPs and CCS and DCS that receive funds sent by the ISP. c) Authors and artists with their CCS and DCS.

6) Each ISP shall automatically compute the amounts of assigned contributions ; transfer the assigned amount for each work to its authors and artists according to established rules; then the ISPs optionally redistribute among themselves the amounts assigned to the same author or artist, so as to maximize his or her income in the next step (see No. 4).

7) Each ISP shall automatically compute a fraction of the non-assigned contributions for each author or artist, first calculating a weight for each person by applying a sublinear function to that author or artist's assigned sum, and then dividing the total available funds according to these weights. The function to use will be specified by regulations. One example of a suitable function would be the cube root.

8) Each ISP publishes the amounts of contributions assigned to each work and each author or artist, and the details of redistribution among ISPs, and the amount of non-assign funds given to each person, and sends these sums and the money to the CCS and DCS, which distribute it to authors and artists, deducting a management fee whose limit is set by law.

The CCS and DCS shall be required to implement the Global Patronage system, while authors and artists who are not members of a CCS or a DCS shall not be obliged to participate in the system.


1) On an ethical level, in article 1 in the scheme of principles, the freedom to distribute should extend to any published work. The global patronage system could eventually apply to all works by encouraging all authors and artists to participate.

2) When speaking about authors' rights, it is not advisable to use the term "creators" for authors and artists, since that tends to encourage granting them a privileged status by semantically suggesting that authors and artists have a divine character.

3) It is not advisable to use the term "content" for a work, because this usage depreciates the works as goods that are only meant fill a container. In addition, this usage is too restrictive on one hand, because digital works may include data and software alone or in combination, and too vague on the other hand, because it might correspond to technical, scientific, accounting data, etc...

4) It is not advisable to use the word "compensation" or "payment" for authors and artists, because these words suggest that whoever appreciates a work owes a specific debt to the artist. We reject this assumption, and instead take the view that the goal is to provide funding for digital works.

5) Regarding the contributions not explicitly apportioned, they are distributed based on a function of each author or artist's explicit apportionment. This function is sublinear, which means it increases less than linear proportion, in order to reduce the disparity of funding between the fairly successful and the tremendously successful. We propose an experimental phase to determine the most appropriate methods and nonlinear functions.

6) This text is a statement of principles. Implementation in each country must be carefully designed, taking into account the local legal and technical context, and based on general rules to be developed by the experimental phase with the participation of the concerned parties.

7) The operating principles of DCS's, which will enable support for the authors and artists of sharably-licensed works, shall be the topic of another declaration.

8) This version of this declaration is not final, and remains to be improved by the authors.

Copyright (c) 2010 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.