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{{divbox|gray|Stable version|This is stable draft version '''0.66''' of the definition. The version number will be updated as the definition develops. The editable version of the definition can be found at [[Definition/Unstable]]. See [[authoring process]] for more information. The process of translating this definition will begin once we have reached a 1.0 version.}}
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{{divbox|gray|Stable version|This is stable draft version '''0.9''' of the definition. The version number will be updated as the definition develops. The editable version of the definition can be found at [[Definition/Unstable]]. See [[authoring process]] for more information. The process of translating this definition will begin once we have reached a 1.0 version.}}
  
 
== Summary ==
 
== Summary ==
  
This document defines the terms "Free Content" and "Free Expression" as any work or expression which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose. It also describes certain permissible restrictions that respect or protect these essential freedoms. Additionally, the document provides a [[Licenses|list of licenses]] which meet the terms of freedom laid out in this definition.
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This document defines "Free Cultural Works" as works or expressions which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose. It also describes certain permissible restrictions that respect or protect these essential freedoms. The definition distinguishes between ''free works'', and ''[[licenses|free licenses]]'' which can be used to legally protect the status of a free work. The definition itself is ''not'' a license; it is a tool to determine whether a work or license should be considered "free".
  
 
== Preamble ==
 
== Preamble ==
  
Through global communication networks, hundreds of millions of human beings today have the ability to access, modify, author, publish and distribute artistic works, scientific and educational materials, commentary, reports, and documents; in short: anything that can be represented as a sequence of bits. In many cases, however, we find that traditional copyright laws, which provide authors and artists with decades of protection even beyond their death, can impede cultural and scientific progress.
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Social and technological advances make it possible for a growing part of mankind to ''access, create, modify, publish and distribute'' various kinds of works - art works, scientific and educational materials, software, articles - in short: ''anything that can be represented in digital form''. Many communities have formed to exercise those new possibilities and create a wealth of collectively re-usable works.
  
Works built by communities collaborating as volunteers, art created for the purpose of shared enjoyment, essential learning materials, scientific research funded through taxpayer money, and many other works do not benefit from artificial scarcity. They benefit from being used freely. We therefore believe that these works should be free, and by "freedom" we mean:
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Most authors, whatever their field of activity, whatever their amateur or professional status, have a genuine interest in favoring an ecosystem where works can be spread, re-used and derived in creative ways. The easier it is to re-use and derive works, the richer our cultures become.
* the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
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* the freedom to redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
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* the freedom to make improvements or other changes, and to release modified copies
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These freedoms should be universally available to absolutely anyone, anywhere. To the extent possible, they should not be restricted by the context in which the work is used.
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To ensure the graceful functioning of this ecosystem, works of authorship should be '''free''', and by ''freedom'' we mean:
 +
* the '''freedom to use''' the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
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* the '''freedom to study''' the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
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* the '''freedom to make and redistribute copies''', in whole or in part, of the information or expression
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* the '''freedom to make changes and improvements''', and to distribute derivative works
  
Any original work of authorship is copyrighted. Under copyright law, authors are considered God-like "creators" and are given legal powers they can use against those who duplicate "their" content in altered or unaltered form. Only very limited freedoms are granted to others unless authors choose to explicitly relinquish some or all of these powers. To do so, authors can explicitly release their work into the public domain (no copyright)<sup>[[#Notes|1]]</sup>, or can choose among a vast array of legal documents known as ''[[w:license|licenses]]'' to grant, retain or qualify their exclusive rights.
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These freedoms should be available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. They should not be restricted by the context in which the work is used. Creativity is the act of using an existing resource in a way that had not been envisioned before.
  
Not all licenses grant the freedoms enumerated above. For example, some popular licenses forbid the creation of derivative works, or the commercial use of a work. Some licenses are even more specific. They limit usage of the work to particular regions of the world, or to relative quantities of information.
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In most countries however, these freedoms are not enforced but suppressed by the laws commonly named ''copyright laws''. They consider authors as god-like creators and give them an exclusive monopoly as to how "their content" can be re-used. This monopoly impedes the flourishing of culture, and it does not even help the economic situation of authors so much as it protects the business model of the most powerful publishing companies.
  
However, no work can be truly called "free" unless it can be freely shared, freely modified, freely aggregated, freely combined, and freely provided through any channel. Works under licenses that prohibit these essential freedoms stand seperate from the body of works that is not impeded by these restrictions. They are philosophically and legally incompatible with the licensing options used by the growing movement that refers to its works as "free content" or "free expression."
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In spite of those laws, authors can make their works free by choosing among a vast array of legal documents known as [[w:license|free licenses]]. For an author, choosing to put his work under a ''free license'' does not mean that he loses all his rights, but it gives to anyone the freedoms listed above.
  
Any license which requires the term "free" to be significantly qualified ("it is free, but you cannot ..") can only mean "free" in the sense of "gratis, without cost". It can never mean that every essential freedom is present. It is the goal of this definition to precisely define the essential freedoms, and to provide guidelines by which existing licenses can be certified as meeting this definition.
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It is important that any work that claims to be free provides, practically and without any risk, the aforementioned freedoms. This is why we hereafter give a precise '''definition of freedom''' for licenses and for works of authorship.
  
== Naming and versioning ==
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== Identifying Free Cultural Works ==
  
You may refer to this definition as the "Free Content and Expression Definition" (its full name), the "Free Content Definition", or the "Free Expression Definition". Consequently, you may call a work covered by this definition "free content" or (a) "free expression" (the terms may or may not be capitalized). [[Which name should you use?]] summarizes some arguments for and against the two names and possible alternatives.
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This is the ''Definition of Free Cultural Works'', and when describing your work, we encourage you to make reference to this definition, as in, "This is a freely licensed work, as explained in the ''Definition of Free Cultural Works''." If you do not like the term "Free Cultural Work," you can use the generic term "Free Content," or refer instead to one of the [[Existing Movements|existing movements]] that express similar freedoms in more specific contexts. We also encourage you to use the Free Culture [[logo]], which is in the public domain.
  
New versions of this definition shall be released as soon as a consensus (achieved directly or through a vote, as per the [[authoring process]]) has developed around suggested changes. Numbering shall be 0.x for initial draft releases, 1.x, 2.x .. for major releases, x.1, x.2 .. for minor releases. A minor release is made when the text is modified in ways which do not have an impact on the scope of existing or hypothetical licenses covered by this definition.
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Please be advised that such identification does ''not'' actually confer the rights described in this definition; for your work to be truly free, it must use one of the Free Culture [[Licenses]] or be in the public domain.
  
== Recommended and required criteria ==
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We discourage you to use other terms to identify Free Cultural Works which do not convey a clear definition of freedom, such as "Open Content" and "Open Access." These terms are often used to refer to content which is available under "less restrictive" terms than those of existing copyright laws, or even for works that are just "available on the Web".
  
This definition uses the terms ''may'', ''may not'' and ''must not'' in obvious ways to distinguish required and optional criteria for covered licenses. Importantly, it uses the term ''should'' where we recommend that licenses which do not meet the stated criteria should be amended. Later versions of this definition may make some of these criteria mandatory.
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== Defining Free Culture Licenses ==
  
== Essential freedoms ==
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Licenses are legal instruments through which the owner of certain legal rights may transfer these rights to third parties. Free Culture Licenses do not take any rights away -- they are always optional to accept, and if accepted, they grant freedoms which copyright law alone does not provide. When accepted, they never limit or reduce existing exemptions in copyright laws.
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=== Essential freedoms ===
  
 
In order to be recognized as "free" under this definition, a license must grant the following freedoms without limitation:
 
In order to be recognized as "free" under this definition, a license must grant the following freedoms without limitation:
  
* '''The freedom to study and apply the information:''' The licensee must not be restricted by clauses which limit their right to examine, alter or apply the information. The license may not, for example, restrict "reverse engineering", and it may not limit the application of knowledge gained from the work in any way.
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* '''The freedom to use and perform the work:''' The licensee must be allowed to make any use, private or public, of the work. For kinds of works where it is relevant, this freedom should include all derived uses ("related rights") such as performing or interpreting the work. There must be no exception regarding, for example, political or religious considerations.
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* '''The freedom to study the work and apply the information:''' The licensee must be allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge gained from the work in any way. The license may not, for example, restrict "reverse engineering".
 
* '''The freedom to redistribute copies:''' Copies may be sold, swapped or given away for free, as part of a larger work, a collection, or independently. There must be no limit on the amount of information that can be copied. There must also not be any limit on who can copy the information or on where the information can be copied.
 
* '''The freedom to redistribute copies:''' Copies may be sold, swapped or given away for free, as part of a larger work, a collection, or independently. There must be no limit on the amount of information that can be copied. There must also not be any limit on who can copy the information or on where the information can be copied.
* '''The freedom to distribute modified versions:''' In order to give everyone the ability to improve upon a work, the license must not limit the freedom to distribute a modified version, as above, regardless of the intent and purpose of such modifications. However, some restrictions may be applied to protect these essential freedoms, as well as the requirement of attribution (see below).
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* '''The freedom to distribute derivative works:''' In order to give everyone the ability to improve upon a work, the license must not limit the freedom to distribute a modified version (or, for physical works, a work somehow derived from the original),  regardless of the intent and purpose of such modifications. However, some restrictions may be applied to protect these essential freedoms or the attribution of authors (see below).
  
== Allowed requirements and restrictions ==
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=== Allowed requirements and restrictions ===
  
There are certain restrictions on the use or interchange of works that we do not feel impede on the essential freedoms enumerated above. These are described below.
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There are certain ''optional restrictions'' on the use or interchange of works that we do not feel impede on the essential freedoms enumerated above. These restrictions are described below.
  
=== Attribution ===
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Apart from these allowed restrictions, the license ''must not'' include clauses that limit essential freedoms. Especially, ''it must not specify any usage restrictions'' (such as prohibiting commercial use of the work, restricting use depending on political context, etc.).
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==== Attribution of authors ====
  
 
Attribution protects the integrity of an original work, and provides credit and recognition for authors. A license may therefore require attribution of the author or authors, provided such attribution does not impede normal use of the work. For example, it would not be acceptable for the license to require a significantly more cumbersome method of attribution when a modified version of the licensed text is distributed.
 
Attribution protects the integrity of an original work, and provides credit and recognition for authors. A license may therefore require attribution of the author or authors, provided such attribution does not impede normal use of the work. For example, it would not be acceptable for the license to require a significantly more cumbersome method of attribution when a modified version of the licensed text is distributed.
  
=== Protection of freedoms ===
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==== Transmission of freedoms ====
  
The license ''may'' include clauses that strive to protect the [[#Essential freedoms|essential freedoms]] of the work, such as:
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The license may include a clause, often called ''copyleft'' or ''share-alike'', which ensures that derivative works themselves remain free works. To this effect, it can for example require that all derivative works are made available under the same free license as the original.
* '''transparent copies:''' a clause requiring all copies of the work to be in a transparent file format (documented and not encumbered by patents) which allows the work to be freely used in perpetuity
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* '''copyleft or "share-alike":''' a clause requiring that derivative works are entirely made available under a license which meets this definition
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* '''no technical restrictions:''' a clause prohibiting the use of technical measures designed to prevent individuals to whom the work is distributed from exercising any of the freedom described above
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However, the license must not limit the licensee's actions beyond those which may have a plausible and direct impact on the essential freedoms of the work or its derivatives. Explicitly, it ''must not'' limit commercial use of the work.
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==== Protection of freedoms ====
  
== Recommendations ==
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The license may include clauses that strive to further ensure that the work is a free work, notably by enforcing some of the conditions specified in the paragraphs below: for example, access to ''source code'', or prohibition of ''technical measures'' restricting essential freedoms.
  
Authors of licenses ''should'' make an effort to gradually make licenses which share the same philosophical roots and legal principles compatible with each other to ensure that works under these licenses can be combined and aggregated freely. This may be accomplished by altering the terms of the license (e.g. by removing a restriction which the other license does not have), or by adding migration clauses which allow the use of the licensed work under the now compatible license.
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== Defining Free Cultural Works ==
  
When making copies of a work, the licensee ''should'' be allowed to refer to a resource pointer instead of being required to distribute the license text itself with each copy of the work. Similarly, the license ''should'' allow the author or authors to specify a resource pointer for the attribution of multiple authors of a work. This is to ensure that the attribution requirement for complex collaborative works does not become an impediment.
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In order to be considered free, a work ''must'' be covered by a Free Culture License, or its legal status ''must'' provide the same ''essential freedoms'' enumerated above. It is not, however, a sufficient condition. Indeed, a specific work may be non-free in other ways that restrict the essential freedoms. We hereafter list the additional conditions in order for a work to be considered free:
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 +
* '''Availability of source data:''' Where a final work has been obtained through the compilation or processing of a source file or multiple source files, all underlying source data should be available alongside the work itself under the same conditions. This can be the score of a musical composition, the models used in a 3D scene, the data of a scientific publication, the source code of a computer application, or any other such information.
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* '''Use of a free format:''' For digital files, the format in which the work is made available should not be protected by patents, unless a world-wide, unlimited and irrevocable royalty-free grant is given to make use of the patented technology. While non-free formats may sometimes be used for practical reasons, a free format copy ''must'' be available for the work to be considered free.
 +
* '''No technical restrictions:''' The work must be available in a form where no technical measures are used to limit the freedoms enumerated above.
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* '''No other restrictions:''' The work itself must not be covered by legal restrictions (patents, contracts, etc.) which would impede the freedoms enumerated above.
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* '''No violations of other people's rights:''' A free work must not infringe upon other people's rights -- however, when in doubt, a work should be considered free until shown otherwise. A work may make use of existing legal exemptions to copyright (in order to cite copyrighted works), though only the portions of it which are unambiguously free constitute a free work.
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In other words, whenever the user of a work cannot legally or practically exercise his or her basic freedoms, the work cannot be considered and should not be called "free."
  
 
== Further reading ==
 
== Further reading ==
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* See [[History]] for acknowledgments and background on this definition.
 
* See [[History]] for acknowledgments and background on this definition.
 
* See the [[FAQ]] for some questions and answers.
 
* See the [[FAQ]] for some questions and answers.
 +
* See [[Portal:Index]] for topic-specific pages about free cultural works.
  
 
== Notes ==
 
== Notes ==
  
# Under some jurisdictions, notably European Union copyright law, authors have inalienable [[w:moral rights|moral rights]] and cannot completely release their works into the [[w:public domain|public domain]]. If you believe that you have a right to put your own works in the public domain, regardless of what the law says, you can make a declaration of public domain status which contains a safeguard clause, such as: "I, the author of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In case this is not legally possible: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law."
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# Under some jurisdictions, notably some European countries, authors have inalienable [[w:moral rights|moral rights]] and cannot completely release their works into the [[w:public domain|public domain]].
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# [http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?lang=en&treaty_id=15 More than 150 countries] have agreed to the [http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/ Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works], which is a document specifiying a framework for copyright-like protection of works of authorship. Local regimes may differ in important ways from one another, especially on the question of moral rights (see note above). However, those regimes agree on excluding the public from almost all important rights related to works of authorship.
  
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== Versioning ==
 +
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New versions of this definition shall be released as soon as a consensus (achieved directly or through a vote, as per the [[authoring process]]) has developed around suggested changes. Numbering shall be 0.x for initial draft releases, 1.x, 2.x .. for major releases, x.1, x.2 .. for minor releases. A minor release is made when the text is modified in ways which do not have an impact on the scope of existing or hypothetical licenses covered by this definition.
  
 
__NOTOC__
 
__NOTOC__

Revision as of 11:50, 29 January 2007

Stable version
This is stable draft version 0.9 of the definition. The version number will be updated as the definition develops. The editable version of the definition can be found at Definition/Unstable. See authoring process for more information. The process of translating this definition will begin once we have reached a 1.0 version.

Summary

This document defines "Free Cultural Works" as works or expressions which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose. It also describes certain permissible restrictions that respect or protect these essential freedoms. The definition distinguishes between free works, and free licenses which can be used to legally protect the status of a free work. The definition itself is not a license; it is a tool to determine whether a work or license should be considered "free".

Preamble

Social and technological advances make it possible for a growing part of mankind to access, create, modify, publish and distribute various kinds of works - art works, scientific and educational materials, software, articles - in short: anything that can be represented in digital form. Many communities have formed to exercise those new possibilities and create a wealth of collectively re-usable works.

Most authors, whatever their field of activity, whatever their amateur or professional status, have a genuine interest in favoring an ecosystem where works can be spread, re-used and derived in creative ways. The easier it is to re-use and derive works, the richer our cultures become.

To ensure the graceful functioning of this ecosystem, works of authorship should be free, and by freedom we mean:

  • the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
  • the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  • the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  • the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

These freedoms should be available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. They should not be restricted by the context in which the work is used. Creativity is the act of using an existing resource in a way that had not been envisioned before.

In most countries however, these freedoms are not enforced but suppressed by the laws commonly named copyright laws. They consider authors as god-like creators and give them an exclusive monopoly as to how "their content" can be re-used. This monopoly impedes the flourishing of culture, and it does not even help the economic situation of authors so much as it protects the business model of the most powerful publishing companies.

In spite of those laws, authors can make their works free by choosing among a vast array of legal documents known as free licenses. For an author, choosing to put his work under a free license does not mean that he loses all his rights, but it gives to anyone the freedoms listed above.

It is important that any work that claims to be free provides, practically and without any risk, the aforementioned freedoms. This is why we hereafter give a precise definition of freedom for licenses and for works of authorship.

Identifying Free Cultural Works

This is the Definition of Free Cultural Works, and when describing your work, we encourage you to make reference to this definition, as in, "This is a freely licensed work, as explained in the Definition of Free Cultural Works." If you do not like the term "Free Cultural Work," you can use the generic term "Free Content," or refer instead to one of the existing movements that express similar freedoms in more specific contexts. We also encourage you to use the Free Culture logo, which is in the public domain.

Please be advised that such identification does not actually confer the rights described in this definition; for your work to be truly free, it must use one of the Free Culture Licenses or be in the public domain.

We discourage you to use other terms to identify Free Cultural Works which do not convey a clear definition of freedom, such as "Open Content" and "Open Access." These terms are often used to refer to content which is available under "less restrictive" terms than those of existing copyright laws, or even for works that are just "available on the Web".

Defining Free Culture Licenses

Licenses are legal instruments through which the owner of certain legal rights may transfer these rights to third parties. Free Culture Licenses do not take any rights away -- they are always optional to accept, and if accepted, they grant freedoms which copyright law alone does not provide. When accepted, they never limit or reduce existing exemptions in copyright laws.

Essential freedoms

In order to be recognized as "free" under this definition, a license must grant the following freedoms without limitation:

  • The freedom to use and perform the work: The licensee must be allowed to make any use, private or public, of the work. For kinds of works where it is relevant, this freedom should include all derived uses ("related rights") such as performing or interpreting the work. There must be no exception regarding, for example, political or religious considerations.
  • The freedom to study the work and apply the information: The licensee must be allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge gained from the work in any way. The license may not, for example, restrict "reverse engineering".
  • The freedom to redistribute copies: Copies may be sold, swapped or given away for free, as part of a larger work, a collection, or independently. There must be no limit on the amount of information that can be copied. There must also not be any limit on who can copy the information or on where the information can be copied.
  • The freedom to distribute derivative works: In order to give everyone the ability to improve upon a work, the license must not limit the freedom to distribute a modified version (or, for physical works, a work somehow derived from the original), regardless of the intent and purpose of such modifications. However, some restrictions may be applied to protect these essential freedoms or the attribution of authors (see below).

Allowed requirements and restrictions

There are certain optional restrictions on the use or interchange of works that we do not feel impede on the essential freedoms enumerated above. These restrictions are described below.

Apart from these allowed restrictions, the license must not include clauses that limit essential freedoms. Especially, it must not specify any usage restrictions (such as prohibiting commercial use of the work, restricting use depending on political context, etc.).

Attribution of authors

Attribution protects the integrity of an original work, and provides credit and recognition for authors. A license may therefore require attribution of the author or authors, provided such attribution does not impede normal use of the work. For example, it would not be acceptable for the license to require a significantly more cumbersome method of attribution when a modified version of the licensed text is distributed.

Transmission of freedoms

The license may include a clause, often called copyleft or share-alike, which ensures that derivative works themselves remain free works. To this effect, it can for example require that all derivative works are made available under the same free license as the original.

Protection of freedoms

The license may include clauses that strive to further ensure that the work is a free work, notably by enforcing some of the conditions specified in the paragraphs below: for example, access to source code, or prohibition of technical measures restricting essential freedoms.

Defining Free Cultural Works

In order to be considered free, a work must be covered by a Free Culture License, or its legal status must provide the same essential freedoms enumerated above. It is not, however, a sufficient condition. Indeed, a specific work may be non-free in other ways that restrict the essential freedoms. We hereafter list the additional conditions in order for a work to be considered free:

  • Availability of source data: Where a final work has been obtained through the compilation or processing of a source file or multiple source files, all underlying source data should be available alongside the work itself under the same conditions. This can be the score of a musical composition, the models used in a 3D scene, the data of a scientific publication, the source code of a computer application, or any other such information.
  • Use of a free format: For digital files, the format in which the work is made available should not be protected by patents, unless a world-wide, unlimited and irrevocable royalty-free grant is given to make use of the patented technology. While non-free formats may sometimes be used for practical reasons, a free format copy must be available for the work to be considered free.
  • No technical restrictions: The work must be available in a form where no technical measures are used to limit the freedoms enumerated above.
  • No other restrictions: The work itself must not be covered by legal restrictions (patents, contracts, etc.) which would impede the freedoms enumerated above.
  • No violations of other people's rights: A free work must not infringe upon other people's rights -- however, when in doubt, a work should be considered free until shown otherwise. A work may make use of existing legal exemptions to copyright (in order to cite copyrighted works), though only the portions of it which are unambiguously free constitute a free work.

In other words, whenever the user of a work cannot legally or practically exercise his or her basic freedoms, the work cannot be considered and should not be called "free."

Further reading

  • See Licenses for discussion of individual licenses, and whether they meet this definition or not.
  • See History for acknowledgments and background on this definition.
  • See the FAQ for some questions and answers.
  • See Portal:Index for topic-specific pages about free cultural works.

Notes

  1. Under some jurisdictions, notably some European countries, authors have inalienable moral rights and cannot completely release their works into the public domain.
  2. More than 150 countries have agreed to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which is a document specifiying a framework for copyright-like protection of works of authorship. Local regimes may differ in important ways from one another, especially on the question of moral rights (see note above). However, those regimes agree on excluding the public from almost all important rights related to works of authorship.

Versioning

New versions of this definition shall be released as soon as a consensus (achieved directly or through a vote, as per the authoring process) has developed around suggested changes. Numbering shall be 0.x for initial draft releases, 1.x, 2.x .. for major releases, x.1, x.2 .. for minor releases. A minor release is made when the text is modified in ways which do not have an impact on the scope of existing or hypothetical licenses covered by this definition.