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17 October 2008

The Onset of the War on Piracy in the World of Design

The cultural production is overwhelmed with the discussion on intellectual property and piracy. That's actually true only to a certain extend. The cultural production of the intangibles is, but the design of the tangibles is not. So far. The architects and product designers does not suffer from insomnia for the reasons that some musicians and filmmakers do (not to mention all the international music and film corporations, but some of the artists on the other hand take advantage of the situation just quite great. Examples are all the musicians at Jamendo as well as creators of The Corporation.

Unfortunately designers' calmness might not last too long. What if you wake up one day to find out that the virtual model of your newly finished building (or just marketed piece of furniture) is available to be downloaded for free at Bit Torrent and it was downloaded few thousands times already? Some would say that you should be quite happy. It's a good design - few thousand downloads in few hours in not a common thing. But I wouldn't be surprised if you would feel the opposite asking where the heck will I get money from now?

Microsoft's Photosynth might herald a whole new kind of debate in the design world. It's an online software (for Windows only) which creates a 3d virtual model out of a set of pictures in order to display as a continuous 3d scene. The direction of it's development might however become focused on the 3d model itself. "Synths constitute a whole new kind of trouble", one might say, but only if he or she is not familiar with the channels of cultural production suitable to web 2.0. The mistake of intellectual property holders of the intangibles should not be repeated in relation to the tangibles. The designers need to begin with licensing under CC and publishing work in order to harness collaboration, so that it simply doesn't make much sense to copy it illegally from the 3d model/photo.

We should simply chase the technology advancement with adaptation of our business model. Since Kurzweil, we know that technology develops exponentially. It might not be an easy thing to do, but it also means that we should start doing it right now. Some companies such as Ponoko are working to achieve this goal (and there are even companies like Genometri, who specialize in online design solutions), but my point is that we need a much broader debate starting at the arts and design universities (to which, as far as I know the topic is yet completely unknown).

Article by Michal Piasecki. Michal writes many times a week about design in the era of Web 2.0. Submit your thoughts - click here!

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