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The Globe and Mail

Crowdfunding site Indiegogo defends campaign to buy alleged Ford drug video

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks at a luncheon for the Toronto Real Estate Board on June 14, 2013.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

A campaign that raised $200,000 to purchase an alleged video appearing to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack was a "beautiful example" of the fundraising power of the Internet, says the website that hosted the controversial crusade.

"That campaign really just speaks to what crowdfunding is about, which is giving the power to people to decide what matters to them and to fund what matters to them," said Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

The video fundraising campaign was launched by Gawker, a U.S. website whose editor John Cook claimed he'd watched the video, which was being shopped around for $200,000 by drug dealers.

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Mr. Ford has said the alleged video does not exist and that he does not use crack cocaine.

Ms. Ringelmann said crowdfunding gives people the power of choice.

"It was actually a beautiful example of exactly that, just as people can vote on the ballot to elect what politician they'd like to see, crowdfunding enables people to vote with their dollar to fund what they'd like to see come to life, whether it's a video of a politician or a baby or a film or what have you."

Ms. Ringelmann dismissed concerns about the money being raised for a transaction with alleged drug dealers.

"The campaign was for a reporter at Gawker, the funds were going to a reporter at Gawker, and I think in general there was interest among the community that people wanted this video to come to life," Ms. Ringelmann said.

"What's interesting about this campaign is that no one complained about it; not even the mayor's office, nobody else. In general the community really wanted it to happen."

Ms. Ringelmann also announced that Indiegogo is planning how-to crowdsourcing workshops in Toronto and Montreal in the coming weeks and will now accept credit card payments in Canadian dollars, which will reduce fees for users in Canada.

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Canada is Indiegogo's second largest market after the U.S. Among the most successful Indiegogo campaigns launched by Canadians was last year's bid to raise money for Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor from Greece, N.Y., who was recorded on video being bullied mercilessly by young students. It started as a modest campaign to raise $5,000 to pay for a vacation, but after the video went viral more than $700,000 was collected for her.

More recently, a campaign to launch the Matterform 3D Photon Scanner, which scans objects to be reproduced by 3D printers, raised more than $470,000 for two Toronto-based entrepreneurs.

And Canadian metal band Protest the Hero raised more than $340,000 from fans to help produce their next album independently.

The Indiegogo workshops in Canada are scheduled for June 26 in Toronto and July 11 in Montreal.

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