We can hold libraries of expressions on small electronic devices, and have the computing power to browse and manipulate those expressions in almost endless ways. Music, art, literature, photographs, movies—any work of authorship from human history representable in digital form can be included. Yet we face regressions in our rights to use these works, namely unlimited copyright durations, digital rights management schemes that make fair use of copyrighted works impractical, and laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that make it illegal to circumvent those schemes. The result is that our natural instinct to access, share, and derive from knowledge and art is being refashioned as crime.
Technology makes possible, and it is certainly time for, a new kind of relationship between the people creating expressions and those receiving them—a sustainable relationship in which both sides benefit. In it, authors publish their works, giving permissions that mostly relinquish their intellectual property rights. In return, people that enjoy or utilize the works give money. This is a gift economy, where each side gives because they want to, not because they are forced to.
EGE is a nonprofit corporation whose goal is to make this alternative a reality. What we will set into motion are gift economies on the electronic frontier.
The sole project at this time is the Giftfile Project.