I have been quite curious to see whether or not the Kickstarter moderators would intervene with the current Cerebus campaign.
Last September 29, I introduced Gerhard to Kickstarter.com because I thought it would make a great way for him to funnel some funding, through his prints, to the Pride Stables, and perhaps get some traction on his efforts to create some children's books.
Fortunately, he was more careful than I was in reading the policy guidelines (imagine that... reading the goddam rules), and he wrote back:
Speaking of which... looked into the whole Kickstarter thing and it turns out:
"To be eligible to start a Kickstarter project, you need to satisfy the requirements of Amazon Payments:
Be a permanent US resident and at least 18 years of age with a Social Security Number (or EIN), a US bank account, US address, US state-issued ID (driver’s license), and major US credit or debit card."
... and you can't just have a silent partner in the U.S., they have to be one of the creators of the project.
Bummer. One of the few times that it sucks to be Canadian.
I jumped over the the Kickstarter site and double-checked on this. Bummer. I looked online about it, and ended up signing the petition to open up the operation to people outside the U.S., adding an enthusiastic comment about that, and then moved on. Rules is rules.
The more you think about it, the more sense it makes. There is a morass of legal and tax concerns if a person in the U.S. were to become, in effect, a conduit of received income that is then sent to a foreigner. This informative article, and the crazy animation people, make the case pretty well - just for what this means for the person in the U.S. who is following the rules - and that would be a person into whose actual company/corporation/business the money is flowing. There are issues involving tax liability on the premiums that I had never considered and, apparently, some new U.S. tax laws as the government catches up with crowd-sourcing.
Right around the 3 minute mark, the key quote comes:
"You don't get something for nothing, just because crowd-funding is cool."
So, kids, that is the story. I'm not participating because I think there's a rules violation. It seems to me (and I am more than happy to be proved wrong) that the Kickstarter moderators should have been on alert here.
The Cerebus Kickstarter campaign explicitly states:
"I'm John Scrudder. I've been working with Dave Sim for the past four years primarily as a promoter and Producer on the web series CEREBUS TV. I'm running this Kickstarter campaign on behalf of Mr. Sim." ... along with a few other notions that he's sponsoring... managing... running... the campaign, but not the project, including this card, handed out at a convention this last week:
In fact, there have also been some mentions of tax liability at the project site, and the issues involving the international transfer of large-figure funds, in some of the updates.
Best of success to John, Dave, and the donors. I can think of at least one household in North Carolina that is probably going to need to consult with a higher authority than TurboTax, next April.
As they say on the Shark Tank: I'm out.
OK, stop me... but I cannot resist one more comment.
Let me describe just one scenario: as it is structured, the actual project (and the implied subsequent ones) relies pretty heavily on Dave Sim's longevity. As I recall, all of the copyrights for Cerebus fall into the public domain upon his passing. Who's at risk if this comes to pass, say, next month? And who's to prevent anyone with access to the material from distributing it openly, in effect, according to the terms of Dave's final wishes?
Mesdames & Messieurs, Faites vos Jeux...