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Whose idea is it anyway?

SUDHISH KAMATH
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LAUNCH Can Qyuki be the creative man’s Facebook?

VIRTUAL PLATFORMShekhar Kapur and A.R.Rahman
VIRTUAL PLATFORMShekhar Kapur and A.R.Rahman

When Shekhar Kapur and A.R. Rahman recently launched Qyuki, a social network, described as “a new media creative hub that unleashes the power of creative collaboration,” they kicked up a storm on copyright and ownership of ideas.

“We are trying to create an eco-system where it is difficult to tell which roots belong to which tree,” Kapur said in response to a question on copyright, maintaining that issues of ownership are old-fashioned and belong to “ancient times”.

The CEO of Qyuki, Poonaha Machaiah, instantly made it a point to assure journalists that copyright will remain with the creator of the content. “We are living in the times of remix. Is remix plagiarism or original? There were multiple renditions of Kolaveri. The world is moving towards the remix culture,” he said.

A quick tour of Qyuki instantly gives you an idea of the social structure of Qyuki. Shekhar Kapur and A.R. Rahman are “The Masters”, the likes of Imtiaz Ali, Chetan Bhagar, Ranjit Barot and Suresh Natarajan are “Experts” and the rest of are part of “Community,” a part of the crowd, till they are recognised and promoted from their amateur statuses. As the site suggests “Creativity is for all.”

“Based on the response and the number of hits from the community, the best talent comes to the top. There will be new Shekhar Kapurs and A.R. Rahmans and that will make us redundant,” maintains Kapur.

Qyuki wants to democratise the playground, but within the structures defined. But democratisation, in the context of creativity and specifically collaboration with the community, means that the crowd becomes the author.

“Not everybody is doing it because they want to monetise it. About 95 per cent create just because they want to. Everyone who plays Tennis doesn't have to win the Wimbledon,” Kapur defends the idea.

Siddhartha Basu, Chairman and Managing Director of Big Synergy, says that his company will keep an eye open on Qyuki to spot talent. “It is taking the creative process to a whole new level. We are planning a series on grassroots innovation and incubating a few ideas to create a TV show that’s going of be one of its kind.”

As A.R. Rahman puts it, “There's so much extra-ordinary talent from ordinary people. What determines quality when there’s so much junk on the Internet. Here on Qyuki, a lot of it is moderated and quality tested by experts and the community.”

While it may still be early days for Qyuki and issues regarding copyright and ownership need to be ironed out, there's no denying the fact that nothing like this has been attempted before.

The crowd may just be able to break the shackles of its current internal social structure and replace its democratic values with those of anarchy. But for that to happen, a huge chunk of India's six crore online users need to get on board.

SUDHISH KAMATH

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