Have you bought a really nice bedspread with a design from India and assumed it’s just something a designer dreamt up somewhere? Sometimes the designs have been appropriated from artists who live in “isolated areas, in the absence of mass manufacturing.” What’s required is a sort of “Shutterstock for cultural art,” where artists are paid in the same way as photographers. Such a platform could literally change lives in traditional communities, and perhaps even prevent or at least slow down the wrench of urbanization in developing countries.

Roots Studio, which launched today at Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt, aims to connect millions of isolated, cultural artists around the world to global markets via the licensing of high-quality scans of their designs.

To achieve this, they install digitization centers (computer and scanner) in villages to enable artists to digitize their art and post to the Roots Studio online repository.

The upfront costs to start a center in each village are approximately $1,000. Once the art is uploaded, it is available to clients around the world instantaneously. Roots Studio splits a percentage of gross profits with the artists, with 75 percent of that going to the artist and 25 percent to a village community fund as voted upon in community meetings.

Read the full article on TechCrunch.