Coil, Mozilla and Creative Commons are launching a major $100 million ‘Grant for the Web’ to award people who help develop best web monetization practices. The Grant will give roughly $20 million per year for five years to content sites, open-source infrastructure developers, and independent creators that contribute to a ‘privacy-centric, open, and accessible web monetization ecosystem’.
This is a great initiative to move the workings of the internet from an ad-focused business model to a new privacy-focused internet.
Grant for the Web is primarily funded by Coil a content-monetization company, with Mozilla and Creative Commons as founding collaborators. Coil is known for developing Interledger and Web Monetization as the first comprehensive set of open standards for monetizing content on the Web. Web Monetization allows users to reward creators on the Web without having to rely on one particular company, currency, or payment platform.
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Coil cited a number of issues in the internet domain such as privacy abuses related to ads, demonetization to appease advertisers, unethical sponsored content, large platforms abusing their market power. “All of these issues can be traced back to one simple problem,” says Coil, “browsers don’t pay”. This forces sites to raise funds through workarounds like ads, data trafficking, sponsored content, and site-by-site subscriptions. In order to demote these activities, Coil will now grant money to people interested in experimenting with Web Monetization as a more user-friendly, privacy-preserving way to make money.
Award amounts will vary from small to large ($1,000-$100,000), depending on the scope of the project. The majority of the grant money (at least 50%) will go to openly-licensed software and content. Special focus will be given to people who promote diversity and inclusion on the internet, and for communities and individuals that have historically been marginalized, disadvantaged, or without access. Awardees will be approved by an Advisory Council initially made up of representatives from Coil, Mozilla, and Creative Commons.
“The business models of the web are broken and toxic, and we need to identify new ways to support creators and to reward creativity,” says Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, in a statement. “Creative Commons is unlikely to invent these solutions on its own, but we can partner with good community actors who want to build things that are in line with our values.
Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director said, “In the current web ecosystem, big platforms and invasive, targeted advertising make the rules and the profit. Consumers lose out, too — they unwittingly relinquish reams of personal data when browsing content. That’s the whole idea behind ‘surveillance capitalism.’ Our goal in joining Grant for the Web is to support a new vision of the future. One where creators and consumers can thrive.”
Coil CEO, Stefan Thomas is aware of the hurdles. “The grant is structured to run over five years because we think that’s enough time to get to a tipping point where this either becomes a viable ecosystem or not,” he said. “If it does happen, one of the nice things about this ecosystem is that it tends to attract more momentum.”