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14 DECEMBER 2010

The cofounder of the Pirate Bay wants to monetise appreciation

In April 2009 the Finnish-Norwegian Pirate Bay cofounder Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, 31, was found guilty — with three others — of “assisting in making copyright content available”. Sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to pay 31 million Swedish kroner in damages to entertainment companies, he refused point-blank to co-operate. “Even if I had the money, I’d rather burn everything I own,” he said at the time of his trial. “And not give them the ashes.”

His latest venture is altogether more generous. Flattr is a “social” micropayments system that allows fans of particular pieces of content — blog post or video, song or piece of software — to make microdonations to the creator by clicking on a button on the site. Donors pay a minimum of €2 per month into their accounts, and then distribute pennies whenever they like.

Flattr takes ten per cent. “Instead of forcing content behind a paywall,” he says, “we wanted a solution based on the net’s principles of free access.” Flattr should appeal to “capitalists as well as socialists like me who want to work together against the big corporations. We’ve learned from the net that there are lots of ways to reach people. I’m not saying Flattr will be the grand solution, but it will be one of them.”

This article was first published in the December 2010 edition of WIRED.