Case Study: SomeRightsReserved | Creative Commons | Creative Commons License

SomeRightsReserved: Digital Downloads & Stuff ‘Download. Copy. Share.

Description: SomeRightsReserved is an online download shop which allows artists and designers to showcase and sell their products directly to the customer. Creative Commons 3.0 Unported Suite Anything publishable in a digital format (e.g. product blueprints, music recordings, e-books, graphics and software). London, England.

Website: Licence Used: Media: Location: Overview

Launched in April 2008 by England-based creative cooperative KithKin, SomeRightsReserved is an online download shop which challenges traditional design practices and empowers the 1 role of designers and consumers alike. ‘Imagine being able to buy the digital blueprints to any object, being able to take it to a skilled professional and have it produced directly. Imagine instant access to quality design ideas and the means to manufacture products on demand. Imagine completely removing the middleman.’

Image: Street Sofa by WEmake, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported,

This direct link to consumers means that the traditional route taken to market a product, involving protracted negotiations with manufacturers and shops, is avoided.2 Now, they can 3 ‘conceive an idea, refine it in a day and publish it the next’. The results are products which represent KithKin’s honest creative voice, and ideas driven by ‘a genuine passion for inspiring 4 people and celebrating creativity’. ‘I want to be part of something truly wholesome and honest within a field that so 5 often feels dishonest and untrustworthy.’ James King, KithKin Designer
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SomeRightsReserved, SomeRightsReserved Press Release, 25 March 2008, (accessed 18 March 2009). 3 Interview with Ian Atkins by Cameron Parkins from Creative Commons, 29 October 2008, (accessed 11 March 2009). 4 Note 2. 5 Ibid. Unless otherwise noted, this paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Cheryl Foong 2009 ( 1 of 5

‘I would like to stop taking tedious commissions and make work purely to my own 6 tastes.’ Phillip Reeves, KithKin Artist The shop lists 30 products, ranging from product blueprints which can be printed, laser-cut and rapid prototyped after being downloaded, to ready-to-use digital products such as music, e-books, fonts, and graphics. Even Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture is available for download as a pdf file at the shop.7 Whilst their collection of blueprints includes fairly industrious designs (such as the Street Sofa by WEmake which costs approximately £2000, and requires access to a welder and grinder to produce), the shop also stocks simple conceptual products (for example, the fold up Graphic Grenade by PostlerFerguson which can be made with just paper, a knife and glue).

Image: Graphic Granade by PostlerFerguson, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported,

Ian Atkins, founder of KithKin and SomeRightsReserved, hopes that as modern manufacturing methods like rapid prototyping and laser cutting become increasingly available and affordable, they will become as common as deskjet paper printers. He explains that these advancements are leading to a new model of commerce, allowing individuals the power and flexibility to produce from home. Thus, they wanted to address this model from a new perspective. ‘Instead of buying the product, why not buy the source file…Creative Commons then adds another level, allowing people to be able to pass the source file around for others to use and experience, 8 just like you would a traditional product.’

Image: RepRap, by Adrian Bowyer, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported, RepRap is a self replicating rapid prototyper which can produce the parts needed to make another of itself.

Licence Usage SomeRightsReserved allows designers to have greater creative freedom, flexibility, 9 spontaneity, and control over the licensing of their product. Decisions on licences and price 10 are made by the designers themselves. Of the 30 products listed, 26 are Creative Commons licensed, with the Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported version garnering the highest usage. In addition, all content on the website by default is licensed under the same CC BY-NC-ND licence.
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Ibid. 8 Email interview with Ian Atkins by Cheryl Foong from ccClinic, 21 March 2009. 9 SomeRightsReserved, (accessed 19 March 2009). 10 Note 3. Unless otherwise noted, this paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Cheryl Foong 2009 ( 2 of 5

Ian confesses that ‘it goes against logic to say, one person can buy the product, share it legally, then all their friends can enjoy it’. However, he explains that it is not about money, but about getting their ideas out there, via the internet which ‘is becoming increasingly prominent, and accessible, in our culture’. As a cooperative, KithKin relish the thought of ‘sharing their idea with the world, and take comfort in their ability to produce hundreds of good ideas in the 11 future’. Similarly, Anthony Dickens, designer of the Playtime Clock, admits that Creative Commons is not right for every product. It has to fit in the legal contract world, where a balance must be met, i.e. ideas benefiting society must do so and not be held for the sole benefit of an individual or organisation. Nevertheless, Anthony chose Creative Commons (BY-NCSA) licensing for the Playtime Clock due to ‘the nature of the project and how the practices of the internet can influence product design’. In particular, it enabled him to get his product out into a commercial domain, at the same time 12 legally allowing consumers to customise it. In a practical sense, KithKin wanted SomeRightsReserved to honestly reflect how the internet currently works. Ian explains that ‘the copyright system as we know it now is broken, it can’t reflect the way we live our lives in a modern interconnected and information aware society. The amount of times copyright is infringed everyday is phenomenal. Forwarding emails, photocopying books, singing happy birthday, recording TV, and downloading stuff. In some cases Creative Commons is a good alternative.’ If they had chosen full copyright and restricted sharing, they would not have the monetary or human resources to uphold it. Even if able to take infringers to court, the benefit and value of raising a law suit would have been limited.13

Image: Playtime Clock by Anthony Dickens, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported,

Likewise, Stuart Bannocks, designer of the Ring Sight, found Creative Commons to be a great way to distribute his designs (compared to other forms of licensing which left him somewhat bemused about how best to use them). Stuart observes that ‘we now live in a time where the concept of ownership is shifting rapidly and our need for ownership over an object or entity is changing.’14 KithKin product designer, Joss Debae, points out that these Open Content licences are growing in popularity as a new 15 marketing tool, with big names also spurring the trend. ‘MySpace and Flickr are tools for hobbyists, but people can get discovered and become platinum selling artists from using them.’ Similarly, SomeRightsReserved gives the opportunity for designers to promote their creations, instead of letting their designs sit on ‘hard drives collecting virtual 16 dust’.
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Image: Ring Sight by Stuart Bannocks, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported,

Ibid. Email interview with Anthony Dickens by Cheryl Foong from ccClinic, 19 March 2009. 13 Note 8. 14 Email interview with Stuart Bannocks by Cheryl Foong from ccClinic, 23 March 2009. 15 See for example, Nine Inch Nails’ release of Ghosts I-IV and The Slip under a Creative Commons licence, (accessed 24 March 2009). 16 Email interview Joss Debae by Cheryl Foong from ccClinic, 21 March 2009. Unless otherwise noted, this paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Cheryl Foong 2009 ( 3 of 5

Motivations Whilst the initial thoughts that led to the development of SomeRightsReserved arose from the 17 simple desire of several designers to make and sell their designs and creations, the shop has crystallized to embody KithKin’s experimental approach to creative outcomes. Challenging the traditional system of design which preaches the value of IP and patents, some of the products on SomeRightsReserved are free to download, and others have to be paid for. Of the 30 products, 9 are available for free, whilst the rest are priced from £1 to £10. Initially, they had no idea as to the volume of downloads the shop would get, or if people would be prepared to pay for a design download.18 Thus, the project became an experiment 19 with ‘the notion of value’, with people ‘plucking prices from thin air’. Ian muses that it may be strange (and almost a little uncomfortable) to have free products and paid products sat next to 20 each other, but that’s almost the point of questioning the notion of value. ‘You’re not meant to give things away for free, you’re not meant to publish the blueprints & instructions to your ideas, you’re not meant to let people copy your work, improve upon it or share it. But we do. It’s different, at first it seems illogical, but hopefully it’s the start for a whole new generation of 21 similar thinkers.’ Ian Atkins, KithKin/SRR founder The slogan ‘a download revolution’ and statements such as ‘Mp3s, file sharing and piracy revolutionised the music industry. Now it’s time for the design industry’ proudly embellish the website. SomeRightsReserved is KithKin’s response to, and rejection of the traditional way of doing things. Instead of gripping on tightly to their designs, they are making the most of the internet as a platform for distribution to the whole world. And the response is encouraging. So 22 far, there have been over 5000 direct downloads of their 30 online products. ‘[We will] continue to share our ideas and influential way of thinking and seeing with as many people as possible, doing more work internationally. We’ve learned on our travels so far that design and creativity transcend language and race with the powerful ability to excite 23 and challenge.’ Ed Vince, KithKin product designer

Both images: Chair Back Stencils by Will Gurney, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported, Product description: Make furniture anywhere and everywhere, you'll surely be sitting pretty!

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Note 3. Note 8. 19 Note 3. 20 Note 8. 21 Note 3. 22 Note 8. 23 Interview with Ian Atkins, Ed Vince and Joss Debae by Yariv Revah from PingMag, 5 December 2008, (accessed 10 March 2009). Unless otherwise noted, this paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Cheryl Foong 2009 ( 4 of 5

In the future, Ian hints that the shop will be making more appearances in different guises. It is not surprising, following the successful launch of a physical shop at DesignersBlock in Milan, April 2008, where they saw themselves akin to ‘pirates, selling high quality stuff for dirt-cheap 24 prices in the surroundings of plush limited edition furniture and boozy champagne parties.’ ‘As with anything that has primarily grown on the internet, in my opinion it has a slight stigma attached to it. If Creative Commons can come offline, and 25 touch people in the real world it will be a real success.’ Ian Atkins, KithKin/SRR founder

Image: The shop making its debut offline in Milan, and also appearing in Selfridges’ Oxford St store and in Covent Garden, London. Reproduced with permission,

SomeRightsReserved is not ‘your high street supermarket stacking it high to sell it cheap,’ but ‘the little specialist shop that smells funny’.26 As a refreshing take on the traditional shop model, SomeRightsReserved is definitely a space to watch, especially with KithKin working to build their product listings, and diversifying their already fascinating collection.

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Note 3. Note 8. Ibid. Unless otherwise noted, this paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Cheryl Foong 2009 (

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