Mozfest '16: Copyright Interventions

For Mozfest, Strange Telemetry combined forces with Projects By If, with support from Wesley Goatley, to deliver a speculative design workshop on copyright interfaces.


Digital media can act to obfuscate understanding around copyright. The intangibility of exchanges around images, videos, audio files, ebooks, and other forms of digital media means that it can be hard for consumers to know their rights with regard to intellectual property. An important part of copyright reform is the reassessment of how rights are communicated, and how consumers are made tangibly aware of their rights in their interactions.

In this workshop, we drew on speculative design approaches to provoke participants into thinking about the ways in which copyright and IP can be communicated. There are several great speculative and satirical projects which cast an eye on the language and interactions around licence agreements, including IPDW’s Whatever Button and Gunner Green’s The Spectacle of Paying.

We invited participants create speculative interfaces for copyright agreements for near-future devices, including internet-connected devices, autonomous vehicles, and augmented reality.

These included: therapy sessions for smart toasters to evaluate whether they were trustworthy enough to be allowed into the private domestic space of their new owners; full-body virtual reality suits that only permit their user to ways that weren’t licensed elsewhere; and an around autonomous vehicles that considered issues around data collection, sexual autonomy, and crossing national borders. Through their design, our participants spurred discussion around the complex and political issues underpinning copyright interfaces, including trust, ownership, situational use, legibility, materiality, and consequences.