Cameron Parkins, October 29th, 2008
SomeRightsReserved is the digital publishing platform for creative cooperative KithKin, a group of designers and creatives who are attempting to take a “genuine passion for inspiring people and celebrating creativity” and turn it into something tangible. Discussed earlier here, SRR are not only producing some fantastic products but are similarly experimenting with licensing in ways that challenge traditional design practices. We recently caught up with Ian Atkins, founder of KithKin/SRR, to get a better sense of how SomeRightsReserved functions as an organization, how they use CC licensing, and their plans for the future.
Can you give our readers some background on what SomeRightsReserved does? What makes you different from other design firms?
SomeRightsReserved is our digital publishing platform. It features a wide variety of ‘products’ ranging from laser cut ready design, to books and music. The group of designers behind the shop, KithKin, are primarily from a design background, but the shop is not limited by genre or discipline.
The initial thoughts that led to the development of SomeRightsReserved arouse from a desire from several of the designers to make and sell their designs and creations. In design this traditionally means a protracted period of time of development, testing, protecting your idea, and then getting made, then trying to sell it. Oh and finding the money to do so.
Now we can conceive an idea, refine it in a day and publish it the next. We publish almost anything in a digital format, whether it be rapid prototype files, which can be used to produce physical objects, to subversive pieces of viral software.
We let designers and creatives publish their products on their terms, exhibiting and touring their work offline and online.
SomeRightsReserved features everything from typeface to furniture blueprints to music. How do you connect with the artists and designers featured on your site? How receptive are they to using free and open means of distribution?
We contact people we like, people who like us find us. It works both ways. It’s an opinionated selection process, with KithKin members deciding. Mainly we are looking for things that push the concept, or work in context with it.
You get two types of people when you explain the concept. One is confused by the notion of floating their ideas around on the internet. They come from an educational system, certainly in design, which preaches the value of IP and patents.
The others get it straight away. They relish the idea of sharing their idea with the world, and take comfort in their ability to produce hundreds of good ideas in the future.
Some of the products at SomeRightsReserved are free to download, others you need to pay for. How do you decide what to give away for free? More specifically, how are CC licenses used in your transactions?
Both decisions on licenses and price are made by the designers themselves.
The whole project really is experimentation with the notion of value. People are plucking prices from thin air, deciding the value of ones and zeros. It’s a strange process.
Your slogan is “A Download Revolution” – what does that mean?
A download revolution sums up our ethos. You’re not meant to give things away for free, your not meant to publish the blueprints & instructions to your ideas, your not meant to let people copy your work, improve upon it or share it. But we do. its different, at first it seems illogical, but hopefully its the start for a whole new generation of similar thinkers.
Why don’t we see more people selling CC licensed materials?
I guess you have to be brave, or stupid. It goes against logic to say, one person can buy the product, share it legally, then all their friends can enjoy it, and all their friends, and all their friends, and your sat their on one sale.
But for us I don’t think SomeRightsReserved is about money, its about getting ideas out there, in a medium that is becoming increasingly prominent, and accessible, in our culture.
For us, and the people involved it’s a wise move, as the promotion and marketing value of what we are doing far outweighs the costs.
Your work is primarily featured online, but lately you have had some real-world showings. How did those go? As a web-based entity, did you find that your ethos translated to a non-digital space?
We came to the project as designers, and the concept arouse with a simultaneous launch of the shop online, and a shop at DesignersBlock in Milan April 08.
We really played with the whole notion of the shop when developing our offline presence. In England there are fake DVD sellers who come round offering discs for a pound. We referenced these for the visual language of our packaging. For the shop space a traditional east end market stall seemed the natural choice.
We were the pirates, selling the hi quality stuff for dirt-cheap prices in the surroundings of plush limited edition furniture and boozy champagne parties.
Is there anything interesting on your horizon? Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
We’re building our product listings, and no doubt the shop will be making more appearances in different guises in the future. The breath and possibility is almost endless.
One area that interests me personally is bringing some of the technology needed to make a selection of the physical products together in one place, to create a pop up digital production line. Someone can come buy the file, put it on a usb key, walk over to the laser cutter, load the file and watch as their product is created in front of them.
We are taking some products from the shop to Covent Garden, London this November with DesignersBlock, more info will be online at www.kith-kin.co.uk