On Bike Locks and Sharing

There’s a forthcoming book on open design curated by Premsela, Dutch Platform for Design and Fasion, Waag Society and Creative Commons Netherlands in partnership with FabLab. Groundwork for Open Design Now was laid during the DMY Maker Lab and later at a workshop in Amsterdam; both of which I delightfully attended. The book previewed recently at PICNIC, and now the text is in full iteration and will hit the publisher soon. It’ll showcase some stellar examples of open design, as well as provide background and a critical perspective of the years to come in the field.

While we wait, I wanted to share an excerpt I found to be a very simple yet sharp metaphor for “IP-theft” versus the positive messaging of sharing and Creative Commons licenses. The quotation comes from Dr. Peter Troxler’s profile of Open Design founding father, Ronen Kadushin. Ronen will probably hate me that phrase. ^_^

Let’s say you have a good bicycle. You like it, so you buy a really nice lock for it. If a thief wants to take this bicycle, it doesn’t matter how good your lock is, he will find a way to take your bicycle. And this is exactly the same with intellectual property. I’m not saying that I’m leaving my bicycles without a lock; [my work] has a lock. But the lock says, “Hey, you want to ride this and give it back when you’re finished?” You know, because you can have a ride, but if you want to buy it, I will sell the bike to you [Ronen releases most of his works under BY-NC-SA]. If you want to produce it, I will let you do it. But there are many more options. People should be straight and honest about it.

Speaking of locks, at Ronen’s latest exhibition, Recent Uploads, Parker and I hatched a fun art project: why not DIY scan a Kindle ebook? You know, purchase a DRM-wrapped text of your choice, set up the Kindle on a flatbed scanner, and just rip, mix, burn your way through it. There’s a difference between locks that say no and locks that say please treat me nicely.

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