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Finnish Bureaucracy Takes Issue With Crowdfunded Textbook

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the grey-goo-of-the-big-s-state dept.

Books 149

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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149 comments

.gov gone wild (4, Insightful)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272113)

Yet another case of bureaucracy gone wild...

Re:.gov gone wild (3, Informative)

Keruo (771880) | about a year and a half ago | (#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:.gov gone wild (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272181)

It's not bureucracy gone wild, just common citizen doing things

So you're quite happy to live in a world where every time you want to "do things" you have to go scouring through law books and beg the government for permission?

Re:.gov gone wild (3, Insightful)

Jerry Smith (806480) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272237)

It's not bureucracy gone wild, just common citizen doing things

So you're quite happy to live in a world where every time you want to "do things" you have to go scouring through law books and beg the government for permission?

http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/14/world-happiest-countries-lifestyle-realestate-gallup-table.html [forbes.com]

I guess s/he probably is. And since his/her gouvernment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index [wikipedia.org] is considered pretty decent, Kickstarter might rethink some of the terms and conditions. They could be misinterpreted, after all.

Re:.gov gone wild (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273203)

Your answer is so patronizing on so many levels. Go fuck yourself.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273413)

Your answer is so patronizing on so many levels. Go fuck yourself.

Spoken like a true American patriot. You jelly?

Re:.gov gone wild (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273815)

So, because the countries are nice in many respects, all of their policies are better than those of other countries?

Re:.gov gone wild (2)

Jerry Smith (806480) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273887)

So, because the countries are nice in many respects, all of their policies are better than those of other countries?

The accusation was that the government was teh sux0r because of the bureaucracy. My addition was that the government seems to do quite well, despite the bureaucracy/because of the bureaucracy.

I hope that answered your question.

Re:.gov gone wild (2)

Javit (68742) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273995)

That doesn't address the issue. Obviously. Unless you'd consider an on-average "happy" constituency and credible government a defense of any possible policy. But I suppose it's to be expected; your planet probably doesn't have propagandized citizenries and disenfranchised minorities.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273997)

Let me, someone from a welfare state next to Finland (and therefore enlightened, nice and happy)*, advice you, probably an American (and therefore stupid, evil and unhappy)*, what to do: First look up Finland's suicide rate. Then look up the suicide rate of the USA. Write them next to each other on a piece of paper. Compare them.

* If a stupid, evil and unhappy American political fraction is to be believed.

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41274173)

Yikes. Gotta guess if they included drinking yourself to death Finland would look even _worse_.

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41275167)

You do know the suicide rate is high in Finland (in particular, above the Arctic circle) mainly due to the long periods darkness 6 months out of every year, right?

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Keruo (771880) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272249)

(name your favorite hate/extremist group here) is collecting money to "do things".
If there is no law preventing them to do so, therefore it's ok to fund "doing things", even if those things could be considered illegal

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272253)

If there is no law preventing them to do so, therefore it's ok to fund "doing things", even if those things could be considered illegal

Is publishing a textbook illegal?

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Keruo (771880) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272323)

If there is no law preventing them to do so, therefore it's ok to fund "doing things", even if those things could be considered illegal

Is publishing a textbook illegal?

Publishing a textbook, legal. Collect funds without permission to publish it, Illegal.
Planning a terrorist attack, legal. Collecting funds to organize a terrorist attack, illegal, since you most likely won't have permit to do so.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Compaqt (1758360) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272397)

You need "permission" to publish stuff? What country do you live in?

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272943)

Get with the program... You need permission to collect donations.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273159)

You need "permission" to publish stuff? What country do you live in?

Ask Julian Assange, Gottfrid Svartholm or Bradley Manning. Yes, you need permission to publish stuff, at least if you live in the US or somewhere in Europe. I can't say if the same if true for countries in Africa or Asia, perhaps it is possible to publish things there without permission.

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272415)

most likely won't have permit to do so

So... what form does one fill out to apply for a permit for a terrorist attack?

Re:.gov gone wild (2)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272801)

The one to be on the ballot in every state when running for president of the united states.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272815)

Ever hear of conspiracy charges? You don't have to actually commit a physical crime to be charged, it just makes it much easier to get a conviction.

Re:.gov gone wild (2)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year and a half ago | (#41275165)

Planning a terrorist attack, legal

Wrong, it's conspiracy to commit an act of terror.

Re:.gov gone wild (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272403)

Is publishing a textbook illegal?

For some textbooks, such as the Young Earth Creationist ones, it should be.

Now if they labeled their material as works of moderately entertaining fiction, it might be another story.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272941)

Publishing the textbook is not the issue, but the gathering of money to do something.

Re:.gov gone wild (1, Troll)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272291)

When "do things" is a business, then nearly everywhere there are regulations, and everyone knows it. Only an idiot would start a business without figuring out what the rules are.

Re:.gov gone wild (4, Insightful)

zyzko (6739) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272375)

Actually, in this case the defense of Senja Larsen is that she is doing business, not collecting money without giving anything back - which is easier in Finland than getting a permit for asking money for "nothing" or a "good cause".

The law is considered by many associations a relic and it can be abused - for an example Electronic Frontier Finland was sued by the state because their website stated that according to their rules they can receive donations and there was an account number visible. State lost - but they "had to prosecute" because someone anonymously demanded so.

On the other hand the law:

- Prevents money laundering.
- Makes it easier to shut down shady operations which for an example state to collect money for cancer kids and the money goes actually to Thailand vacations of a few "charitable persons" and the kids get two used playstations - at least there is some oversight on who can publicly collect money.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272663)

I doubt it prevents that much money laundering. How many people launder money by donating it or receiving donations? In any country that cared about money laundering you'd get investigated almost immediately if you were receiving large amounts of money (unless you were a big player[1]).

From what I hear many run businesses and pump money through it. For example you could run a business, and sell a lot every month to certain "customers". You could also pass money up/down the supply chain that you have control of (up or down depends on whether you under or overcharge).

[1] The big players just use banks to launder money- e.g. Wachovia, Bank of America, etc.

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273123)

Bank of America and Wachovia don't operate in Finland.

And, yes, people do launder money through charities, all the time.

The law is good. It hasn't, as indicated by the KickStarter project creator herself, caught up with the times. This may force changes into the law.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273977)

Don't know if this applies to Finland specifically - but casinos and gambling sites are the best money launderers. Say $50,000 (or whatever denomination) comes in through normal "legal" means on a given day. Claim $100,000 in taxes, and poof, $50,000 is legal, taxed, and totally above-board income.

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41274983)

Maybe I misunderstood your point, but gambling is very strictly regulated in Finland, and any profit by the gambling company must be used for charities etc by law.

Three companies have essentially monopolies in their respective gambling fields:
- RAY, a not-for-profit association (also operates Finland's only casino) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raha-automaattiyhdistys [wikipedia.org]
- PAF, RAY's "counterpart" in the Åland Islands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAF_(gambling_monopoly) [wikipedia.org]
- Veikkaus, a government-owned company operating lotteries and sports-betting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veikkaus [wikipedia.org]

Re:.gov gone wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41274889)

- Makes it easier to shut down shady operations which for an example state to collect money for cancer kids and the money goes actually to Thailand vacations of a few "charitable persons" and the kids get two used playstations - at least there is some oversight on who can publicly collect money.

Right, so why's UFF still around?

Re:.gov gone wild (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272353)

Unlike in the U.S., which has a huge mess of laws nobody knows about from dozens of agencies and levels of government, in the Nordic countries the legal system is actually fairly streamlined, and most citizens are aware of their rights and obligations under the law. One reason you don't see the jails as full of people as in the USA.

Full jails? (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272607)

One reason you don't see the jails as full of people as in the USA.

And here I thought it was the lack of a "war on drugs", maximum sentences of 20 years, where we'll toss you in prison for 40 for mere possession, if you have enough of it.

Not many people end up in prison over the more unusual laws. It's normally stuff like violence - murder, assault, robbery. Theft - burglary, theft, shoplifting, and the WoD.

Re:.gov gone wild (3, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272385)

It's not bureucracy gone wild, just common citizen doing things

So you're quite happy to live in a world where every time you want to "do things" you have to go scouring through law books and beg the government for permission?

And I suppose you are happy living in a world where kids can't have decent chemistry sets because TERRORISM!!1!, and where it is difficult to get through an airport with a laptop because TERRORISTS!!!, in fact where you have to be intimately rubbed down by the TSA in said airport because TERROR!!!!!!!, and so on and so forth.

America: the land of the brainwashed-into-thinking-they-are-more-free-than-others.

Re:.gov gone wild (3, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272795)

How do you know he doesn't oppose both?

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272947)

I don't for sure, but statements like that usually have a "my country is better than yours, ner ner neh ner ner" tone rather than a "every country is shite" one.

beg for permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273073)

In most countries you are entitled to start your own company if you feel like it... When you start selling books, you probably should start a company/association/foundation, or some sort of entity...

Re:.gov gone wild (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273809)

So you're quite happy to live in a world where every time you want to "do things" you have to go scouring through law books and beg the government for permission?

In a lot of cases where I'd call it preemptive crime prevention, yes. For example if you pretend to be a doctor but don't have a license to practice medicine, we don't have to wait for an actual malpractice case. You are already breaking the law just by trying. If you operate a restaurant I don't mind that you have to have a permit so that health inspectors both know you exist and have a right to investigate your facilities before you put people in the hospital. If you pretend to operate a charity, I don't mind that you need a permit that requires documentation that the money goes where you say it's going and is not a fraud. I don't mind that the government must approval of your rental units before there is a house fire where someone doesn't get out because there's no fire exit and you're charged with manslaughter.

A permit is not something the government should hand or not hand out on a whim, it should have a clearly defined list of requirements and those who fulfill the requirements should get a permit. Of course you could say that the "free market" should fix this, that people would simply stop going to unsanitary restaurants but the practical experience has been that the market hasn't fixed this so instead of quoting dogma we found a solution that did. Sure you can have too much bureaucracy as well, but a lot of the time the businesses trying to fly "under the radar" without a permit do so because they are breaking a lot of other laws and regulations that are there for a reason. If I just pick a place to eat at random I don't expect great food, but I do expect that it's fit for human consumption. It's really not too much to ask.

Re:.gov gone wild (4, Insightful)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272365)

Kickstarter is operating under US law in terms of monetary transfers, from the Kickstarter FAQ:

To be eligible to start a Kickstarter project, you need to satisfy the requirements of Amazon Payments:

—You are 18 years of age or older.
—You are a permanent US resident with a Social Security Number (or EIN).
—You have a US address, US bank account, and US state-issued ID (driver’s license).
—You have a major US credit or debit card.

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272379)

Seems to me that there are a gazillion other, better means to launder money... For instance gambling outfits or night clubs, or RE development in 3rd-world countries.

Re:.gov gone wild (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272503)

You miss the point, there is no permit he can get. He'd have to form a business or organization. As always government regulation adds cost, complexity and may even kill this project. All for the noble purpose of preventing money laundering? Which this is clearly not. But we can't let common sense intervene.

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

SQL Error (16383) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272617)

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.

So it's bureaucracy run wild, then?

Re:.gov gone wild (3, Interesting)

Tore S B (711705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273709)

The person is operating a business - admittedly, on non-standard terms - but she is running a business. That does include a requirement to understand and comply with the basic laws of the land. And she has done it in a way which runs afoul of some laws that are there for good reasons but which are not impossible to get around.

It's bureaucracy doing exactly what it is supposed to do: Ensuring a functional market by regulating it competently.

Re:.gov gone wild (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273583)

This legislation has very valid reasons to exist, it prevents money laundering.

Yet another reason to deep six that legislation. The Finnish government could just tax stuff, like property, that can't run off and hide in another country. Taxing cash flow is very tempting for obvious reasons, but like so many other usually well-intended efforts, it requires intrusive government monitoring in order to work.

Now, I recognize Finland isn't ever going libertarian and most of their citizens aren't going to care in the least about my observation above. But they really need to recognize bad unintended consequences when they happen. Here is a novel method for funding entrepreneurs and it's being strangled, at least in Finland, by bureaucrats.

TL;DR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272121)

you need a ;licence to take money without promising to give anything back

Huh? (3, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272133)

Aren't you supposed to get something (say, a copy of the final product) in exchange for your contribution? Sounds like some Bureaucrat thinks his workload is a bit low...

Re:Huh? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272171)

Supposed to, yes. It should fall under contract law. Things do get a little more complicated with KickStarter and similar CrowdFunding platforms, though.

Let's say the project is for Group X to perform at Broadway. What is the final product you would get back from that?
Let's say they then offer stickers at a $5 pledge level. But you pledge $100 instead. Is that $95 then not a donation with nothing in return?

Even when pledge level/reward are all on the up-and-up.. what if the project doesn't deliver?
By KickStarter ToS, they must either deliver on the promised perks, or refund backers. Problem is - they may not refund. If they don't, KickStarter says you're on your own (despite the ~5% they take). The problem with being on your own is that a e.g. $25 pledge isn't particularly worth going into legal (contract law) proceedings over.

That's all setting aside that many actually do view KickStarter as a donation platform and perks delivered as being optional.

Some good reading, straight from the horse's mouth:
http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/accountability-on-kickstarter [kickstarter.com]

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Huh? (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272355)

"Kickstarter states that any promised rewards *should* be fulfilled,"

You're emphatically making things up. The Kickstarter Terms of Use [kickstarter.com] are quite clear:

Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill.
Project Creators may cancel or refund a Backer's pledge at any time and for any reason, and if they do so, are not required to fulfill the reward.

Re:Huh? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272485)

That's not of much use if they don't enforce it.

Re:Huh? (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272551)

And exactly how would they enforce it? The money's already been distributed. If you order something from a retail web site, and they don't deliver, do you expect your ISP to "enforce it?"

Re:Huh? (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272559)

Then it has changed.

Their site used to employ the terminology of "donations" and "donators" along with "pledges", but with the exception of not allowing *charities*. I recall when I first read it and found the language a bit surprising. You could just do a search for "donation" in their help section and it'd pull up instances of it, which I am no longer able to successfully do. The references to fulfilling rewards, however, is meaningless, because they also mention elsewhere that there is basically nothing they can do about a failure to fulfill and I'm not aware of any instance where they have taken actions to assist in such a thing. In fact, I have seen at least one project that went back for more funding while their first project still remained unfulfilled. They got around the rule of "not double dipping" by stating that the first project was for the item on mobile devices and the second project was for the PC.

It strikes me that the rush of video game kickstarters and a few other successful projects by established companies may have changed how they perceive their own service. That established businesses would essentially use Kickstarter as a method of side-financing and pre-ordering products was probably a surprise to them and facilitating so many of those types of projects definitely comes with issues that you may not have to address when you're just catering to five dudes wanting to put out an album and looking for funding studio time.

Re:Huh? (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272837)

"Then it has changed. Their site used to employ the terminology of "donations" and "donators" along with "pledges", "

You continue to mislead. Even the earliest terms of use [archive.org] stated

Though Kickstarter cannot be held liable for the actions of a Project Creator, Project Creators are nevertheless wholly responsible for fulfilling obligations both implied and stated in any project listing they create

Nothing there which could lead to a claim that they "suggest" rewards be fulfilled. Also, they never use the term "donation," as you claim.

Kickstarter.com ("Kickstarter") is a venue for fund-raising and commerce. Kickstarter allows certain users ("Project Creators") to list projects and raise funds from other users ("Backers").

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41274397)

That was a lengthy post. I was glad to reach the Finnish.

Adapting the law (2)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272141)

In an ideal world, we would adapt the laws to the people. In this world we try to adapt the people to the law.

Basically looking for a technical solution for a social problem.

This is a non-issue in this particular case. (4, Informative)

dnaumov (453672) | about a year and a half ago | (#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:This is a non-issue in this particular case. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272399)

It is pretty common on kickstarter to spend less than the pre-order price just to suport a project, or spend more than the pre-order price to provide additional support.

So part of the raised total are definitely donations

Re:This is a non-issue in this particular case. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272821)

this is true for a normally published book as well. does elsivier
take "donations" for their $50,000/year journals? ... i'm guessing
that's not the prevailing opinion.

Unsurprising. (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272151)

Only the government and those they anoint may request money without giving anything back.

Also:

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.

The problem isn't the translation. That is, literally, how Kickstarter works. Pledges are to be considered "donations". Not *charitable* donations, but donations none-the-less. There is no guarantee that the project will succeed or that anything promised to backers will ever be fulfilled. This is stated in Kickstarter's own information. Backing requires some degree of investigation, judgement, and an understanding that you're essentially just chipping in to see a project you are interested in reach completion. If it is successful and obligations to backers are fulfilled, that's a bonus.

I like Kickstarter and I've backed more than 180 projects, so far. However, it is not without some weak points that could potentially be a detriment to its entire existence down the road. Such as their eagerness to just green light almost anything (like the lottery winner who failed at his pizza startup and decided he wanted to raise over a million bucks to build an MMO or the endless stream of middle aged people wanting you to fund their gospel album or their obnoxious ten year old kid's debut pop album). Or their complete lack of vetting projects and those submitting them.

That may come back to bite them in the ass, some day, since their entire continued existence relies on a high result-to-failure ratio as far as trust. Considering they only add between one and three or four dozen projects per day, that shouldn't be a problem to do some minimal vetting of each project. Especially since they get five percent of each successful project and that can run from them pocketing $2,000 on some of the smaller successful video game kickstarters to $400,000 on some of the larger ones like Ouya and the Pebble Watch. Not investing some of this revenue into the one absolute necessity (trust) that their company requires will be the utmost negligence.

Re:Unsurprising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272455)

Only the government and those they anoint may request money without giving anything back.

Strange place you live. My government has the obligation to provide numerous services such as roads, police, courts, fire service, libraries, and numerous other functions which it is obligated to provide as a condition of its existence.

It's even required to be answerable to the people. This includes audits to ensure that they're doing what they said with the money.

Maybe you should change your government if you aren't getting value for your dollar or other increment of financial value. That is another thing my government also has part of its constitution. Of course, you will have to convince enough people to go along with your changes.

Or are you one of those delightful people who think that because the government is doing something you don't like, you get unilateral decision-making power over it?

Re:Unsurprising. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272645)

It's even required to be answerable to the people.

Hahahahaha! You're so cute.

Re:Unsurprising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273155)

It does require some conscious effort, but we've succeeded.

Unlike the places where apparently the government is a kleptocracy.

Re:Unsurprising. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272461)

"There is no guarantee that the project will succeed or that anything promised to backers will ever be fulfilled."

In exactly the same way there's no guarantee you'll get a package when you order something from Amazon.


"This is stated in Kickstarter's own information."

There you go again, making things up.

Re:Unsurprising. (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272739)

Instead of stalking me in every post on Slashdot and claiming that because Kickstarter has changed the language they used since I last reviewed it, that I'm "making things up", try adding something of value to the conversation.

First - THEY ARE DONATIONS. I'll grant you that they no longer seem to actually call them that, but in every regard, they definitely treat them as donations. If they're not donations, then what is it called when you click a button to give someone five bucks and there is no reward level for it? Or when a reward level is $10 and you give them $20? Or when you give them $20 and click the "don't give me any reward" option? That's a donation. You may be promised a reward for certain levels of donations, but they ARE merely donations. They are NOT transactions of money for products, like a marketplace (though I understand one could see room here for semantics).

Anyway, there is nothing about backing a project that is anything like "ordering something from Amazon". When I order something from Amazon, I know I will be taken care of. Even if it is from a merchant who is merely listing their items on Amazon. Amazon backs all purchases through their site, whether that requires a refund or sending out another item or sending out a replacement.

If a Kickstarter project does not fulfill their rewards, it's just tough shit for you. It used to be that it *was* treated as a donation and it was specifically stated that you are NOT paying for any items, services, or experiences even if they are listed as rewards. Since your first comment provoked me to go look at their literature again, a lot of that sentiment seems to no longer be included. I'm not sure why they've done that, but it seems strange, since it actually could make it *less* clear just what you're doing when you chip in a few bucks.

If you actually believe that it's "just like ordering something from amazon", why don't you show me examples where someone has failed to fulfill their rewards and Kickstarter has set things straight for all of the backers? I'm not merely being rhetorical, either. As someone who has followed Kickstarter for more than two years and backed almost a couple hundred projects, I can tell you that I have *never* seen or heard of it happening and I would actually be interested if anyone can show where it has.

MANY kickstarters have not fulfilled their rewards by the date promised. That's reasonable. Things come up. Delays occur. Projects encounter hurdles and are more difficult than expected. But, eventually, it has to be called a failure. Or a scam. or a fraud. Or . . . whatever. And some of these *HAVE* happened. Where is Kickstarter on those? What are they doing to enforce the meaningless TOS clause that "rewards must be fulfilled"? When my delivery doesn't come from Amazon or it's broken or something, I just email them and they apologize profusely and give me free overnight shipping of the thing to rectify it. What does Kickstarter do?

Here's one example of such a Kickstarter. They don't seem to have been a scam, but they could have been. And to my knowledge, Kickstarter never stepped in or attempted to do anything about it.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1536325846/dice-age-the-new-era-of-dice?ref=live [kickstarter.com]

They received successful funding (more than 300%). The Kickstarter closed almost *fifteen months ago*. People didn't start receiving their rewards until about a month ago, despite many comments over the year and change asking what was going on and if people were ever actually going to get their rewards. As of today, about 20% of the backers have gotten their pledge fulfilled.

They may have decided to strip the "these are donations" language from their documentation on the site, but that doesn't change what they are. You are making donations and being promised rewards and there is nothing to guarantee those rewards will be fulfilled and many kickstarters are absolutely *not* about facilitating a product transaction even in the loosest sense.

Ooh. Next time you comment on one of my posts, can you add something in there about my mom or my breeding or something, too?

Re:Unsurprising. (0)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272867)

"Instead of stalking me in every post"

That's under your control - simply stop posting incorrect and misleading information. They are not donations, as you claim. KS makes that very clear [kickstarter.com] . Searching their FAQ finds the word "donation" one single time:

We know there are a lot of great projects that fall outside of our scope, but Kickstarter is not a place for soliciting donations to causes, charity projects, or general business expenses.

It says "Oxo" on buses, but they don't go there (3, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273093)

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

See also: waddling, quacking.

Are PayPal donations also outlawed? (2)

vovick (1397387) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272153)

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.

Does this mean people in Finland cannot also accept donations for projects they are working on since this is technically the same "giving money for nothing in return" issue?

YEs Re:Are PayPal donations also outlawed? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272217)

Well you need a permit in order to collect. This makes it a bit harder to collect money for legimite purposes but also much harder for all kind of scam artists for collecting money for "cancer kids" (alghtough that also happens in Finland from time to time. So its not bullet proof.)

Re:Are PayPal donations also outlawed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272251)

Yes, AFAIK it does.

Re:Are PayPal donations also outlawed? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272283)

Indeed. This is not particularly surprising.

However the solution is fairly simple, you just get some registered organisation to sponsor the project.

They got a book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272159)

They got a book. This is a 2 way transaction.

Just another case of the state restricting free trade.

Re:They got a book. (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272271)

Kickstarter isn't a marketplace. You don't exchange cash for goods. You may be promised some goods for certain amounts of donations, but the donations are separate unto themselves. Therefore, if Finland doesn't allow donations without being licensed, then this falls into that, because you are not explicitly paying money for a product in return.

Poor Fenno-Swedes (0)

CptPicard (680154) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272191)

Being oppressed again when something comes in the way of making everyone worship their language above all others... or else :-) This Senja Larsen person is quite an annoying example of the idea that being a member of her language-cult is an expected feature of a person who isn't somehow particularly closed-minded, uncivilized, yadda yadda. Perception is everything, and she and her kind truly know how to push an agenda.

It's not as if our tax money aren't already being used to fund Swedish textbooks... I wonder when contributing to her cause twice becomes mandatory? "Status of Swedish" and all, you know.

Re:Poor Fenno-Swedes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272269)

AFAIK Senja is an ordinary language teacher. Her native language is Finnish. Even if I do bash the swedish speaking people for political reasons in every single turn I can, this comment was total crap as it has no factual basis. Teaching swedish is a totally different matter than acting for swedish language to be mandatory in curriculum.

Re:Poor Fenno-Swedes (1)

CptPicard (680154) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272369)

I recalled she was some kind of "communications-manager" in a prior life? It would explain a lot, as she certainly seems to know how to do efficient propaganda in the vein of "we are so innovative and cool that you must look like an idiot if you don't join us". Also, her machinery is just a bit too slick to come from one person alone, I am willing to bet there is Magma (Fenno-Swedish think tank that produces slanted research and opinion pieces) people behind her and she's just the public face who somehow just "happened" to want to share this wonderful language with the rest of the world by any means necessary.

It does not matter what her native language is. A lot of Finnish-speakers are more Catholic than the Pope in this issue in order to demonstrate their ideological credentials in this matter.

The factual basis in the comment is that this is just part of the effort in Finland to really strongly push Swedish on a purely ideological basis -- it has been systematically stepped up in recent years, and Senja is part of the "movement" to sell the language as somehow particularly "innovative"... hence these crowdfunded things and so on. It's not as if Swedish textbooks don't already exist. Nobody would complain if it were a Mathematics textbook, or perhaps we would not have the need to anything to that effect either to be crowdfunded. I wonder who gets to decide what is in that textbook...

I do respect you for bashing where bashing is due though :-)

Re:Poor Fenno-Swedes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272477)

I have always wondered why people seems to be so upset about having to learn an extra language, when your country is bilingual. Do the Swedish speaking Finns, not have to learn Finnish? Are they complaining as much about having to learn Finnish? Do you complain about mandatory English in school as well?

Honestly, I really like to understand why this debate is going on, I really don't understand what the problem is with learning all the official languages in a bilingual state is. Can you explain this to a non-Finn?

Re:Poor Fenno-Swedes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41275047)

At least for me, the issue comes from just the fact that I've never needed Swedish for anything and don't expect to. If somebody doesn't speak Finnish, I can just talk English to them.

Note also that outside the relatively small bilingual areas in the south and south-west, there are very few Swedish-speaking people (even Russians are more numbered). For example, in my city, of 215000 inhabitants, only 0.5% have Swedish as a native language (while 94.9% have Finnish, 4.5% other).

For comparison, in the bilingual Helsinki, of 596000 inhabitants, 6.1% have Swedish as their native language.

Re:Poor Fenno-Swedes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273511)

Senja may be ordinary language teacher now playing the role of underdog, but Swedish-first lobby in Finland is far from an underdog. If they decided to sponsor the book, it wouldn't take more than five seconds for one of their foundations to grant the sum. I also suspect that she has very well "protected" future available from think tanks such as Magma, in case she needs a new job, for any reason whatsoever. She has proved to be a true believer in superiority of Swedish language and is eager to support it; that's all they demand.

The language question is really not about this book, or books teaching Swedish. It's about special privileges granted to dwindling Swedish-speaking community; they have so much language-specific quotas and ample support from their foundations that they have chances only to lose in the long run. In order to postpone that, their lobby doesn't only aggressively defend the quotas, thet also push Swedish towards the status of first-learned non-mother tongue (95% of Finns speak Finnish, but need to read at least three years of Swedish in school). And they make strange bedfellows to keep this strange priority afloat.

Issue here is that Swedish-speaking lobby does almost all of this by taxpayer money, and definitely prevents people from choosing which languages they want to spend time learning; no matter what you want to study, one of these languages has to be Swedish. That's a considerable resource to waste, considering people might be more interested to learn Russian, Chinese, or, say, German. But no; Swedish it has to be. Forever. And every official has to complete Swedish-speaking exam. For a minority of whom every single one I've ever met has been completely fluent in Finnish.

How did it all come to this? Well, there was considerable and powerful minority of Swedish-speaking Finns around a century ago, when Finland gained independence. It has been dwindling all the time since then. What really made language politics end in current state were consensus politics of Finlandization era. Since seventies, the Swedish speakers' party has been a part of coalition government - *every* government. Their demands for teaching Swedish to everybody are relatively new "innovation" made in coalition government negotiations - this wasn't the case for something like half a century after independence. This party has only one priority: special treatment of Swedish speakers. Not equal treatment, but special. They are completely spineless in all the other issues; that's the reason why they seem to always be on the government. "Give us our piece, and we don't care what atrocities others plan to do" is their core attitude.

Don't be worried of Senja. She has her life backed up for rest of her life. If she's an underdog, she has backers that have essentially deeper pockets and political connections than the government itself.

Governments are the enemy (0, Flamebait)

zoloto (586738) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272221)

Especially in this situation. What a total load of bullshit!

Re:Governments are the enemy (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272331)

People asking for donations without the intention of delivering are a major problem. That fraud takes billions every year. Finland has a law to cut down on that. That way, if someone is asking for money, you know they are legitimate, as they have filed all the proper papers and are traceable, even if not fully vetted. I don't see anything unusual or even onerous about this law. But it seems silly that someone entering a business venture didn't find out commonly known rules related to it.

Re:Governments are the enemy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272493)

i wonder, though, if attempts to clamp down on purported fraud don't actually pour cold water on those that would legitimately create charities (or those that would support them). the market is capable of providing sufficient information on reputable charities, and, as we see here, laws seeking to prevent "fraudulent" donation schemes appear to be doing more harm than good.

i donated $5 to a catholic charity yesterday that is seeking to prevent the eviction of a family that only very recently got back on its feet. it was done via paypal, with no way to designate my contribution for the particular purpose the priest posted about on facebook. i'm not catholic, and i don't think the entity needed to have a religious foundation to help this family, but i donated anyway. what the priest does with my $5 is on him. i did my part. no government intervention necessary.

Re:Governments are the enemy (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273941)

the market is capable of providing sufficient information on reputable charities

Yet the 'United Way' keeps grifting it's way along, year after year, decade after decade.

Re:Governments are the enemy (1)

jovius (974690) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272905)

I think the point is the novelty of the concept to the bureaucrats. They are confused and asked for a statement.

Organizations like the Red Cross and such often have urn at the malls, and you can - if you want to - make sure it's legitimate by checking the permit number to collect money on their website or elsewhere. There have been many cases where money has been asked for imaginary causes or on behalf of some organization (even the police :)) by telephone or going door to door.

In general you need a permit to collect money if there is nothing given in return (except at charity events etc.).

Most likely in the end the law will be amended (unless the present laws are already found cover it) to include clauses about crowd funding, which in the best case of course would be excluded too. If it's not then that would be really unreasonable.

Why is Finland involved? (2)

Bogtha (906264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272277)

Only permanent US residents paid through a US bank account are eligible for Kickstarter [kickstarter.com] . Why does the Finnish government think it can dictate the terms of a project where a US company is paying a US resident to do stuff?

Re:Why is Finland involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41272303)

For the same reason the US government thinks it has the right to send a SWAT team to New Zealand to assult a non-US citizen for something that somebody else did on a server in Hong Kong.

Governments are organized crime and should be treated as such.

The other Kickstarter projects were ignored because they didn't directly threaton the flow of bribe - I mean *campaign* money flowing to politicians. Legacy books, like legacy media is obscenely profitable and helps manipulate public opinion. Government crime groups won't let that go without a fight.

Re:Why is Finland involved? (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273961)

Because Finland is one of the remaining few truly sovereign states remaining? I don't think so. When did they test their first nuke?

Re:Why is Finland involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41274247)

You know you could have said "SEAL team to into Pakistan" and you would have actually been correct not just incorrectly spouting /. groupthink. The US did not raid his house, they asked NZ to do it and apparently they were more than happy to oblige.

Re:Why is Finland involved? (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272309)

While KickStarter's ToS requires that the KickStarter be set up by a U.S. resident paid through a U.S. bank account, the project can actually be led by - and funds transferred to - anybody from anywhere. The clause itself is fallout from their working with Amazon to handle payments.

You'll see projects from Finland, Germany, Israel, etc.
http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/ [kickstarter.com] - hit up the 'cities' search.

In this case, the project creators seem to be from Finland and thus likely subject to Finnish law.

Sounds crazy to a USian (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272389)

Basically this seems to suggest that all charity and donations would require a special permit. Even asking someone for help when starving.

But after a bit of thought, it occurs to me that people in Finland don't have to beg for help. Here you need no permit but the collection jar on the counter is for something like a child with cancer. In Finland you wouldn't need a collection jar. Poor and hungry or in need of shelter would beg here. In Finland they would be fed, housed, and given medical treatment without any begging.

We truly are barbaric here in the US in some ways.

Re:Sounds crazy to a USian (0)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41272605)

So barbarism is the opposite of taking from people according to their abilities and giving to them according to their needs?

Re:Sounds crazy to a USian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41274361)

The rivers are also made of chocolate. It's not hard to push social collectivism when 96% of the population is ethnically and cultural homogeneous.

Maybe you should as the Sami how enlightened they think Nordic society is, although if you ask the Swedes Finland doesn't even count, they just want to think they do.

According to a Finn I knew... (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273125)

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

It's impossible to translate anything into Finnish. Even if it's in Finnish to start with.

Socialist Europeans ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273249)

... are socialist.

Internets? (1)

jkajala (711071) | about a year and a half ago | (#41273373)

The law about money raising predates Internet and is heavily based on assumption that you go from door to door with a box. This is kind of "known issue" and EFF has been pushing changes. So I'd hope the law will get updated sometimes in future.

Re:Internets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41273895)

Sure,

EFFI [effi.org] , Electronic Frontier Finland ry. (registered association) once got few years back in trouble with the same law as it asked donations on its web page. They also forgot to apply the permit, which is notable mistake as they have lawers in their ranks. It should have been applied beforehand and they were later cleared out of the matter.

On the other side, founding association in finland is easy and process is light. Just few (3) legally capable members required [www.prh.fi] .

One funny side note I took a glimpse and saw who are the backers of the Senja Teaches You Swedish (and Finnish) -project and 1/3 at least justifying by names have swedish-finnish roots and surely (some known names) swedish speakers. I'm not sure what it going on with this, but I have a hunch and can't come to any other resolution that this is something to do with much discussed "pakkoruotsi" (a name for forced swedish finnish students have to take at school, swedish speakers need to take finnish ofcourse).

Disclaimer: I'm 1/4 swedish roots, a native finnish speaker who learned swedish from my mother and school ofcourse too, but still do not believe that this obligatory system does good job regarding very few few finnish need swedish after completing the school and the language skill level most reach at school is not adequate to fluently communicate with swedish speakers and once not needed and used afterwards skill usually just gets worse over the time.

In the US, there's the Mail Order Rule (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#41274177)

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.

Not crazy bureaucracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41274967)

It seems that a lot of people are commenting that do not understand what's going on. The issue is quite clear but legally somewhat complicated.

In Finland (my country), it is not allowed to collect money from the general public without a license (except when begging, street musicians etc.). The only ones that can get a license are companies and organizations. Private persons can not obtain a license. In addition, an organization can only be licensed if it is for non-profit and has a public interest. Therefore collecting money can only be done as part of a business or for non-profit charity-type things.

The reason for the licensing requirement is mainly two-fold: to prevent money laundering and keep track on who's supposed to be taxed. In addition, there is a tradition that collected money should only go to a good cause. The licensing makes (usually) sure the money collection is legit and not some fraudster ripping people off.

The issue here is that the woman (Senja Larsen) doing the book, is a private person collecting money from the public. She can therefore not obtain a license because of the law. The only way she could collect the money is trough a company, but then she has to give something in return ie. sell something (and pay taxes etc.). However, the consumer laws does not allow doing business where it is not by default sure if the customer will get anything. You can not as a company say that "maybe we'll deliver your book if you pay us" because then your business becomes a lottery. Now, lotteries (gambling), can only be held by non-profit organizations with a public interest, not by for-profit companies.

This all adds up to a situation where the writer either has to establish a business selling her book or stop collecting money from the public. It does not matter how she collects the money or trough which media. The Finnish law applies as long as she is operating in Finland.

This is not a case of crazy bureaucracy. The laws applicable are in place to protect customers and prevent fraud and are quite reasonable.

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