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What about the applicable law?

If a license has a clause about the applicable law, is the license free? In my opinion, this clause is a problem because only the people that know a certain law can understand license's implied sides.

I think CC are working on licenses covered by Berne/WIPO law only. But a license needs a jurisdiction to avoid confusion or argument over terms and meaning, so in this case having a jurisdiction may protect freedom. --[[User:Rob Myers|Rob
The license should not declare itself subject to applicable law (which differs widely and is a moving target dictated to governments by vested interests), otherwise it becomes effectively meaningless and impotent. It should grant its freedoms independently of applicable law. Then if some applicable law tries to restrict it, the finger of blame falls on those who have made the restrictive law, and not on the license. The phrase "subject to applicable law" effectively says "This license offers only those freedoms which those in power wish to legally allow you", and that is not at all in the spirit of the Definition. Let applicable law commit its own crimes against openness --- don't do it for them. Morgaine Dinova 22:24, 17 September 2011 (EDT)

First Thoughts

I had some issues with the definition of free content here. Firstly, the document attempts to define "free content" as so many have done in the past, yet there is no clear definition of what is and isn't free content in the "free content movement" you discuss. It concerns me that a definition is being created in isolation from the wider community without proper discussion.

I see the definition here models itself on the free software definition, but misses several important and fundamental aspects:

How does the definition handle digital works (such as images, documents, etc) versus non-digitual works (such as hard-copy books, paintings, sculptures, etc)?

How should digital works be treated? A digital work, such as a wordprocessor document, can be viewed in two ways: firstly, as a work in and of itself, i.e. content, but also as a piece of software itself that can display a final work. Should you only have the freedom to study a work (content), or should you also have the freedom to study how a work was created (software)?

The definition talks about the freedom to make and release (distribute?) modifications but it doesn't say anything about source copies of work. I can think of several examples where the freedom to make modifications can be provided, but without a source copy of a work (i.e. in the format preferred for making modifications) making modifications could be prohibitive:

  • Protected PDF - sure, decrypting such a PDF is possible but its a) tricky to export a PDF to a format that can be modified with all the information intact (images, tables, etc), and b) it may be illegal to decrypt protected PDFs in certain juristictions (DMCA?)
  • Text content as image files - a user could allow users the freedom to modify his written works but only distribute them in image format. It is difficult for downstream users to then extract the text content

You also talk about "free content licenses" where you should really be talking about free content works: a license enables a free content work, but

Free experession is not the same as free content: you can have the right to free expresssion without having free content, and free content does not guarantee free expression.

I hope this is helpful. --Rgladwell 20:25, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

Thanks for your comments. If you don't mind, I will move them to Talk:Definition/Unstable and respond there, just to have all comments in one place. First thoughts: You raise a very good point. Is it possible for something to be free content without the "source code" (or something equivalent) being available? Under the current definition, it is. Perhaps we need to find a wording that requires source availabiliy where such sources are essential to modifying the work. More later,--Erik Möller 20:42, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
I've dispatched some of the comments into their own sections in Definition/Unstable. --Antoine 22:16, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
Is there somewhere I can sign? -rhY-
In terms of source requirements, should it be more along the lines of source must be supplied where it existed in the making of the derivative and in the case of simple copies, if source was available for the original?

Wow ... you even frame/structure Talk?! ... meh. Anyhow, nota: you have Definition as your default index (wrong ... on basic principle, wrong ... you program? think trampolene) but Definition links to the rest of the site very very poorly. --BenTrem 01:07, 25 June 2006 (CEST)


License 333 and version 0.66 -- it is a sign! Excellent.

The Open Knowledge Definition

Last september/october the Open Knowledge Foundation 'ported' the Open Source Definiton to produce the Open Knowledge Definition (full text).

This came out of various discussions with people working on open geodata, open access, and open databases of scientific data. As I wrote then:

"The Open Knowledge Definition (OKD) provides an answer to the question: what is open knowledge? It puts forward, in a simple and clear manner, principles that define open knowledge and which open knowledge licenses must satisfy.

The concept of openness has already started to spread rapidly beyond its original roots in academia and software. We already have 'open access' journals, open genetics, open geodata, open content etc. As the concept spreads so we are seeing a proliferation of licenses and a potential blurring of what is open and what is not.

In such circumstances it is important to preserve compatibility, guard against dilution of the concept, and provide a common thread to this multitude of activities across a variety of disciplines. The definition, by providing clear set of criteria for openness, is an essential tool in achieving these ends."

I therefore think this new initiative is a big step forward at a time, when at least to judge from my experience of debates about the CC license at Free Culture UK, there is no clear consensus about terms such as 'Free Content' (and therefore no consensus about the norms of the community).

Given the common interest in these issues I'd very much like to get further involved in the FCED -- and parhaps also look at a way to merge the OKD and the FCED.


My take

"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."

I think this needs some revising. Production and quality do not benefit from artificial scarcity- individual works may very much so benefit. The last sentence needs some amending- Free content is not just used Freely, but more. An important distinction to my mind.

  1. the freedom to redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  2. the freedom to make improvements or other changes, and to release modified copies

This freedom isn't very clear. Does this involve not charging, or are "reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing fees acceptable?

My take on this question: those fees are not acceptable as normally understood. But it does not involve not charging either. For instance, in Free Software, you can charge whatever you can manage when someone obtains a copy from you. That you cannot do is make them pay you a fee when they then make copies of that copy for themselves.
"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."

Personally, I'd like a bit of a mention of the artificiality of copyright. That first line certainly makes it sound like copyright is a God-given natural right.

More generally, the attribution section strikes me as troublesome. What happens if I take an article, on Fujiwara no Teika, say, which is a stub, and work like the dickens on it, until it is orders of magnitude larger, such that there is not so much as a single word in common with the original article? Should the first person still be credited as the original author? --maru ( 06:47, 6 May 2006 (CEST))


Please also consult the Adelphi charter.

And regarding Public domain there is also the concept of "gemeinfrei"/common free in droit' auteur regulation. i.e. public property vs. free to use

The freedom to use and perform the work

I'd like to see the word "display" added to this since perform covers music and plays while display would cover films and pictures.Geni 01:46, 14 February 2007 (CET)

Since we speak of any use, private or public, and all related rights, this is covered, but I agree that we can & should explicitly enumerate it in the next version.--Erik Möller 02:45, 14 February 2007 (CET)

Discussion list

Is it possible to host the discussion list elsewhere than Google Groups? Not everyone wants to centralize their activity in a Google account. Not to mention that plain-jane Mailman archives are so much more usable than Google's system. Thanks. --Antoine 12:44, 16 February 2007 (CET)

I can host a mailman list for this on Wikia if there's no objection to that. Angela Beesley 14:18, 17 February 2007 (CET)
Thanks for the offer - but I'd prefer to host the list with Mako. He's already offered to set up a list for us. As a private company in the wiki space which, I hope, will one day adopt the definition, I don't want Wikia to be seen as in any way influencing its content (same reason I wouldn't host the list with Wikimedia).--Erik Möller 14:40, 17 February 2007 (CET)
Thanks, anything resembling a normal mailing-list with public archives will be ok. --Antoine 15:31, 18 February 2007 (CET)

Metaphor suggestion

I would like to thank the developers of this definition for clearly distinguishing between works that are truly free, and those that are only semi-free. One thing the concept lacks, though, is a simple metaphor as in "free as in beer" vs. "free as in speech", that can be used to illustrate the basic distinction of this paradigm in a non-technical way. Not sure if such a thing belongs in an official definition, but I think it's something we should have around. I think I might have come up with something helpful, which is explained in the passage below:

Many licenses are called "free", but they are free in different ways. One has to ask, is a work "free to pamphlet" or "free to marionette"? A "free to pamphlet" work may be free to hand out copies (while rewriting or sale is restricted), but a "free to marionette" work is free to adapt into a marionette show, and to sell tickets at the door to rent the theatre and feed the hungry puppetteers.--Pharos 00:03, 19 February 2007 (CET)

I think that is a nice metaphor for an essay. I would encourage you to draft an essay here -- I hope that, like the GNU site, will eventually be a solid collection of philosophical material.--Erik Möller 21:13, 19 February 2007 (CET)
Thanks, I've written something at Free to marionette. Not sure where it goes in the structure, though.--Pharos 09:29, 24 February 2007 (CET)
I've collected that and some other material I found here at Portal:Free Culture Soapbox. There didn't seem to be any established place for such material till now, so I just went ahead and created one.--Pharos 08:01, 10 March 2007 (CET)

Source data

I think the source data section will still need some work to deal with cases where such data is simply not obtainable; IMHO that should not make the work non-free.--Erik Möller 21:11, 19 February 2007 (CET)

I think this is a very tricky part. The source vs. binary duality is very different in the case of a creative work. If I took a photo of a flower would the source data be the flower itself, the raw format of the photo, or would the jpg be enough? If I released a png after adjusting the white balance, would I still have to release the raw format for a work to be free and be excused only if I happen to 'accidentally' destroy the raw data? I think that as long as a work is editable the source data is irrelevant. In the case of software, not releasing source places a technical impediment to modifying the work. In the case of a 3D scene this might also be the case, but in the case of an image it is clearly not. In the case of an audio file, or a film, would the author have to release the off cuts? I would not think so. --Inkwina 16:07, 13 March 2007 (CET)

I think is this fine to distinguish between works where there are no "source data" and where there is. A not yet fleshed-out thought is that anything that can be modified non-destructively should be available for distribution in the preferred form for modification. Kat Walsh 18:28, 27 March 2007 (CEST)

Adding a "... to the same extent as the author"

I think I very much agree with Inkwina. I'm wondering whether actually the extent of any of the four freedoms is not quite clear. And all points in the section "Protection of Freedoms" are only tackling specific examples where the missing extent of these four freedoms could be problematic. Would it be possible to find a more general criteria which covers everything in the "Protection of Freedoms" section? I first thought about maybe changing for instance the first sentence in the summary of Definition/Unstable to:

Free Cultural Works are works which anyone can Use, Study, Copy, Change and Improve to the same extent as the author.

So if the author can for instance use and study it at any time, then the author would not be allowed to place any additional restrictions. And any tools and raw data that make it easier for the author to modify the work would have to be available to anyone else too. An author would also not be allowed for instance to publish a work for instance under the mpeg4 format, as the author can for instance use or copy it at any time, but not anyone else could due to the license fees under certain other conditions. I'm not quite sure whether this addition might actually mark too many works, works which are actually non-"free", as a Free Cultural Work for one thing. And for another whether it'd be problematic that in certain cases it might not be easily provable whether the author is using additional data / tools to modify the work: For instance someone publishes a text under a CC-BY license within a pdf document from which anyone can easily copy and then modify the text. However, if the author has additional source data, for instance LaTex files, which allows the author to change certain content easier, then it'd probably be quite difficult to prove whether the author has and uses such LaTex source code. --T X 12:36, 1 November 2011 (EDT)

Ah, now found a good example for my feeling, "I'm not quite sure whether this addition might actually mark too many works [as Free Cultural Works]": If the author's work is a derivative of a non Free Cultural Work, then suddenly the new work could become a Free Cultural Work. For instance the original work only allowed the usage of the work while making a headstand on a 1.23m high table. Then suddenly the derivative work inheriting this requirement would be marked as a Free Cultural Work. This could be fixed with the addition of a requirement that a derivative work would only be a Free Cultural Work if the original work was a Free Cultural Work too. --T X 13:02, 1 November 2011 (EDT)
Grr, and just found another example why a "to the same extent as the author" won't quite work: For any license the author is usually allowed to distribute his/her own work under another, additional license later. For instance although a software is licensed under GPL, the author can additionally allow explicit usage under non-GPL terms to certain people or parties. Therefore a GPL work would not be considered a "Free Cultural Work" under my modified version... --T X 04:51, 4 November 2011 (EDT)

Well anyways, maybe someone else gets my point and intent behind that addition and can come up with a better modification.

Copyleft suggestion

I would like to see a discussion of copyleft and what it needs to have to promote / protect a pool of Free Works.

Moral rights

There are some moral rights (droit d'auteur not copyright) that I have as an author and due to legal restriction I can't waive them. Does this make my work unfree? This page or Permissible restrictions does not address this issue.

PS. You may call me old fashioned, but I don't think sentences like these give a mature and intelligent impression: "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." Samulili from Wikimedia projects

I agree, the hostility is unnecessary and immature. 22:47, 1 April 2007 (CEST)
In my opinion, moral rights do not make your own work un-free, because they don't forbid other people to e.g. make modifications, they allow you to oppose some modifications on a case by case basis. --Antoine 20:21, 6 April 2007 (CEST)

Commercial Restrictions

What about some restrictions on the commercial distribution of a work? That is, a free culture work can be copied and those copies can be shared but with some restrictions on selling those copies when permission is not granted.

That isn't free content. Commercial Restrictions are explicitly not permissible restrictions. Angela Beesley 18:20, 3 April 2007 (CEST)

In the summary...

considered "free." --> considered "free".--Alnokta 20:47, 9 April 2007 (CEST)

El concepto de la palabra free es muy amplio debido a esto a modo de reestructurar la definición existente todo los softwares utilizado para bienes comerciales ya sean por alguna empresa, negocio, marca o persona alguna a partir de 11/11/2022 deberá pagar una cuota de uso de carácter monetario con el objetivo de contribuir al desarrollo de mejores tecnologías al alcance de todos (esta definición a modo aclaratorio incluye todos los softwares que sean utilizados con fines de lucro personal o empresarial): --Pac0710

"god-like creators"?

From the definition: "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."

Is this even true? The purpose of Western copyright law is not meant to prop authors upon some pedestal to be worshiped, but to provide direct incentives for them to publish in the first place. Thus society benefits from the all-rights-reserved work, even if to a lesser extent than if work was freely licensed. I recall at least one US Supreme Court case finding that the primary purpose of copyright/patents is to provide for the benefit of society, and secondly to reward the author if he/she so chooses. Congress has made policy decisions to exempt works of federal employees from copyright, provide for "fair usage", and set (generous) copyright duration limits.

My incentive to publish most of my work under free licenses is to promote a progressive international society. I expect that the Congress that passed the original version of copyright law shared the same values, as they have created the foundation which makes our work possible. Thanks, GChriss (Who is not a lawyer.) 23:46, 10 April 2007 (CEST)

True, but one has to appreciate the significant difference between original intentions and truth on the ground. I believe that the Original intentions of the people who first came up with the idea of copyright where not to different from ours, when taken in the context of the period. Yet, I think that legislative development is an evolutionary process, and evolutionary process exist in a state of equilibrium which can become unstable, at which point a fork (not dissimilar to a source code fork) tends to occur.
I think that in the case of Creative Works this fork has occurred (with the emergence of the internet as the critical factor driving the imbalance) with the "Freedom Culture" and the "IP protectionist Culture" as its two branches, both relying on the same resource, namely "Copyright laws" to archive their goals. Therefore, it is very important to make it absolutely clear how the "Freedom Culture" differs from the "IP Protectionist Culture", by stating the state of affairs as they are today, not based n original intentions. On the other hand a Definition ought not to rely on emotionally charged statements to provide its information. I think that statement needs to be changed not because of what it tries to convey, but because of how it does it ... because at the end of the day the medium is the message. --Inkwina 15:27, 13 May 2007 (CEST)
By "truth on the ground," do you mean to say that aggressive copyright compliance has historically increased? The idea is plausible, but I am interested in seeing direct evidence of such a claim.
I agree that making "absolutely clear how the "Freedom Culture" differs from the "IP Protectionist Culture"" is terribly important. I also posit that we should respect both and acknowledge that "free" is not always appropriate. The author needs to make that choice, a choice partially informed by Thanks, GChriss 16:04, 14 May 2007 (CEST)

By the "truth on the ground" I mean the actual legislation and regulations that are in effect today that are supposed to implement that original intention, as well as case law, actual enforcement, the current context particularly asyncronisity with the digital media, adequacy in view of globalisation etc ... and current public perception of those intentions
So, in short, I think we are agreeing. Where I do tend to differ slightly is on the appropriatness of freedom. I think that while in the current situation ""free" is not always appropriate", this in not necessary to the human condition, but rather and incidental effect of history. On the other hand a definition like this needs to address the here and now, and not some potential state-of-affairs where humanity enjoys universal intellectual freedom. But, again, we mostly agree see here for e.g. --Inkwina 18:20, 14 May 2007 (CEST)
Yes. I should add that I am one to enjoy history :-) I'll catch you around, GChriss 20:10, 14 May 2007 (CEST)

Why the sneering tone towards authorship anyway? Free Content isn't about limiting author's rights, it's about convincing people that it's better for authors to share, not that they're misguided in wanting some control at all. It's really all about the author's control over the work, because without it an author couldn't say "you must follow the GPL" any more than he could say 'no copying.' 05:08, 22 May 2007 (CEST)

Un autor es aquel que es capas de crear o recrear (algo) en la mayor extencion de la palabra con tal divinidad admiracion gratitud y retribucion por su esfuerso y dedicacion a crear para el disfrute de todos aquellos que se benefician ya sea en lo personal o en lo laboral o el acceso a una forma mas sencilla de interactuar con el mundo ya sea a través de softwares o un programa,esa divina persona o institución o medio debe ser retribuida financieramente,retribuida económicamente por su trabajo y tiempo debido a esta lógica que rige el mundo un autor debe tener sus prestaciones correspondientes por el trabajo creado. --Pac0710 11/11/2022.

Photos should not be modified

There are legal restrictions on the use and modification of photos, especially if they show living people. Personality rights in many countries do not allow to use photos in a way that could be regarded as libel. Photos of buildings or industrial products do not include the right to reproduce them. So the definition of free photos should be less permissive than the current definition and should not include the right of unlimited changes. -- 21:28, 19 May 2007 (CEST)

Does this need to be in the definition? Surely, all free cultural works are subject to other laws. Free software programs that capture photos in such a way that is governed by personality rights would be affected by those laws, but that doesn't make the software non-free or require the free software defintion, or a license for that matter, to include a clause about personality rights. If the definition, or a license, were to include clauses about every other possible law, there would be no point. What about child pornography, for example?
Good point, but I don't think it ought to be in the definition. --Balleyne 00:18, 21 March 2008 (EDT)


There is no mention of trademark restrictions in this article. Does the section No other restrictions or limitations also include trademark restrictions? To give an example, the w:Empire State Building is protected by trademark restrictions, so it is not "free of limitations". Is a photo of it -- a photo that was released by the photographer under a free license -- to be considered "free" according to the definition? / commons:User:Fred J 17:55, 29 May 2007 (CEST)

This is an excellent question. The best example I can think of is Linux, which is obviously freely-licensed and yet there was a huge controversy and court case surrounding the trademark issue. See Copyright, licensing and the Linux trademark and [1]. Usually it's not a problem, but the trademark issue can make things complicated. Wikipedia, which is GFDl of course, uses trademarks all the time, and has a disclaimer about it: w:Wikipedia:General_disclaimer. w:User:Nadav1 16:06, 31 May 2007 (CEST)
See also m:User talk:Eloquence#Licensing policy: request for clarification, where I had asked Erik Möller for a clarification regarding that point. The issue goes beyond trademarks. Photographs of people, for instance, cannot be used in advertising without the subject's express consent in many countries, AFAIK (personality rights). What about design protection? And so on... Lupo 11:15, 1 June 2007 (CEST)
Child Pornography is absolutely illegal in all jurisdictions.If the subject being photographed is not of legal age to consent to their photo\\and the legal guardian is not looking out for the minors best interest. Once the child reaches the legal age of consent, in the juris of the minors residence, the minor will be able to give "Free Will" consent.

Wiki content license

This is terrible, you selected some license, which is still in heavy 'development' to license the content and didn't even say '2.5 or later'. Please! Use instead something like the gnu project does with "Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved." at the end of each page. Who can actually decide such a change in this wiki?!? --Qubodup 23:49, 1 December 2007 (CET)

What substantial problem do you see with CC-BY 2.5? I agree that we should add the "any later version" clause, though technically that's problematic at this point.--Erik Möller 11:09, 4 December 2007 (CET)
Selecting ONE license of many for this definition of content freedom marks this one license special. Why CCby2.5? Why not FAL (LAL) 1.2? Why not GFDL? Why not GPL? If there should be a license for the definition's content at all, it should be every single of the accepted 'free content' licenses (are the ones on the licenses page valid free content licenses?) or something extremely simple and permissive as what the GNU project uses for it's web text content. --Qubodup 20:33, 4 December 2007 (CET)
PS: A terrible solution would be something like "every change made starting with 04. Dec 2007 is licensed under all of the following licenses and any of their later versions"

Doesn't CC-BY 2.5 itself say that it can be relicensed under any later version (and any national version)?

Allowing reuse of content under any free cultural work license would be certainly wiser, though. It's a bit strange that free cultural works are not permitted to include the definition of free cultural works (unless they use cc-by license, and only that). --Tgr 22:53, 23 December 2007 (CET)

Why can't they? The cc-by license isn't a "share alike" license. --Andy 11:23, 6 March 2008 (CET)
The cc-by still has a freaking load of text in it and this is a problem. The free software definition is licensed under "Copyright © 1996 - 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved." that's it. overkill is the right word. read this. --Qubodup 11:42, 27 March 2008 (EDT)
That’s not a free license. There is no permission to change the article. -- Sloyment (talk) 21:39, 17 July 2018 (EDT)

Existing exemptions

Free Culture Licenses do not take 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.

What exactly does this section intend to state? In the strict sense, a license can never limit an exemption (thats why it is called an exemption). If it's meant in a more general sense, saying that FC licenses are not intended to limit your rights, thats not quite true: they do limit your right to relicense derivative works.

For example, some countries have a concept called panorama freedom: photos made of copyrighted buildings and statues do not need permission from the copyright owner. Thus if somebody takes a picture of a statue, he can treat it as if it were fully his own work: sell it for money, grant limited distribution rights etc. If the statue was under a free "viral" license, that license would explicitly forbid this (the photo being a derivative work). Thus free licenses can take away rights (not freedoms though; actually they take away your right to reduce the freedom of others to use your work). --Tgr 01:35, 24 December 2007 (CET)

An Objective Definition of Free?

I've written two books about copyright, ( "Bounty Hunters: Metaphors for Fair IP Law" and ( Libre Labyrinth". Both are licensed CC-BY. "Bounty Hunters" is more geared towards understanding how to find copyright laws that are fair for All Rights Reserved applications and how Free/Libre/Open projects fit into that context. "Libre Labyrinth" focuses on objectively describing and comparing different Free/Libre/Open licenses.

The GNU-GPL is graphed out on pages 40 and 41 of "Libre Labyrinth". The main point is that all the "rooms" (all the areas that could be monopolized through some IP law) are open to one another. All the "doors" have been taken off the hinges (it's a bit of an odd metaphor for explaing Venn Diagrams that include allowed state transistions, but it's explained in the beginning of the book, and it seems to work), so there is no one-way trap-doors that allow someone to monopolize the work.

It would seem that this would qualify as an objectively measurable definition of "Free". I thought you might find this useful, but didn't want to put my own works into your wiki. Conflict of interest, and all that. If this is useful, someone can put it in your main page. If it's not, then feel free to leave it out.

GregLondon 00:19, 29 February 2008 (EST)

TECHNICAL: Upload not functional

Make the uploaded files directory writable please, I cannot upload files. --Qubodup 11:44, 27 March 2008 (EDT)

Save It

Can we save it to a music CD

Box at top

Should be (+ "a" or + "the" as the 3rd word):

Stable version
This is a stable version 1.0 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, and see translations if you want to contribute a version in another language.

Jtneill 23:45, 23 June 2008 (EDT)

"the" added, thank you! Finn Rindahl 13:25, 24 June 2008 (EDT)

TECHNICAL: favicon

Please add the logo as a favicon, it's hard to find this site between lots of tabs... --Tgr 17:01, 9 September 2008 (EDT)

Thanks for the suggestion. Mako has added this. Angela Beesley 20:41, 10 September 2008 (EDT)

It doesn't seem to be working any more. --Tgr 21:46, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

It's back now [2] but favicons can take a while to show up so you might not see it straight away. Angela Beesley 15:26, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Preamble for 1.1

I think in the 1.1 version we should try to rewrite the preamble in response to some of the feedback we've received. In particular:

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.

This seems unnecessarily polemical and polarizing. We want to invite even those people to participate who utilize traditional copyright protections for some of their works. My preference would be to replace this entire paragraph with a more positive one about the power of sharing and collaboration. I don't think we need to take a pro-copyright stance in this definition, but I also don't think we need or want to take an anti-copyright one. Thoughts?--Erik Möller 22:03, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

Yes Eric, this is currently being discussed on the Wikieducator list at the moment, but you are right to try and bring it here. My feeling is that the paragraph is so poor that it should be deleted immediately. Then you/we could build something up if it leaves a void. Personally I think the document is better without it all together, and is not diminished if nothing is there for a time. Leigh Blackall 15:07 18 Sept NZ time.
I am an advocate of the free cultural works definition and have recently been directed to issues in the preamble of the definition in the WikiEducator discussion forums. The WikiEducator community have adopted the free cultural works definition and I think that the paragraph referred to below does not serve the interests of the definition. I propose that the following paragraph be deleted from the definition: "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." Having been on the receiving end of the FUD for many years, I appreciate and understand the sentiments expressed in the paragraph. Perhaps we should create an addendum containing further reading and key resources to articulate these concerns, but I don't think they should be included in the main body of the definition.

--Mackiwg 23:06, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

I wonder though - given that the discussion page shows a fair number of unresolved or threads without closure, how we will determine consensus and take action on that paragraph...? Leigh Blackall 17:57 18 Sept NZ time.

I've made an edit to Definition/Unstable per the above; feel free to revise further. If I don't hear anything back within the next week, I'm just going to do a quick 1.1 update myself.--Erik Möller 14:06, 18 September 2008 (EDT)

Yes, neutral is better. I think this is the only part that can be considered biased, the rest looks fine. Spiritia 15:04, 18 September 2008 (EDT)

Updated.--Erik Möller 21:02, 26 September 2008 (EDT)

Have further tweaked the Unstable version where I thought there were still unnecessary words, or confusing sentences. Hope to see them in the Definition at some stage. --Leighblackall 21:35, 26 September 2008 (EDT)

Thanks so much for removing this. Now it's actually a neutral definition instead of advocacy. Maybe there's hope for the project after all.  :) Omegatron 14:27, 11 January 2009 (EST)

Photos and their use

As a photographer I am concerned with how my work is used. Now having said that I do fully understand the concept of creative commons and free cultural work and other "licenses" however the biggest issue I see is that "one size does not fit all". For example Creative Commons uses music/audio terms such as "remix" and in 30 years do taking photographs I have never once been asked if someone could "remix" my image. GFDL is meant for text - so using it for an image and saying "No Back cover text" does not fully apply.

That being said the FCW license might work great for images with a few re-wording or clarifications. And these are suggestions, rough ones at that.

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.

For images the word "perform" might be changed to "display". However for an image I feel "exceptions" should be considered. For example - a photographer takes an image in New Orleans lower ninth ward of an Afro-American who was killed during katrina and they release it "freely". Based upon the FCW "there must be no exception" so a user could re-purpose that image for use in a pro-Nazi poster. A CCL does have "fine print" that state the licensee can not distort, mutilate, modify or take other derogatory action in relation to the Work which would be prejudicial to the Original Author's honor or reputation which I think, in relations to images, is a good thing. Perhaps the FCW could change the wording of "There must be no exception regarding, for example, political or religious considerations" to something along the lines of "There can be exceptions regarding, for example, exploitation or racist use"

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".

I do not see any issues with this part as it would relate to images.

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 concept is fine but it's execution in relation to an image might not fully work. Redistribution is fine. Adding to a collection is fine. Anyone can copy it is fine. Sales however is where you run into issues. Look at the "exception" issue(s) for an idea. If there were to be no restrictions on use there would be no doubt an image could be used in a manner it was never intended to be used and be used in that manner to make money. Again - perhaps in regards to images there could be a choice of the photographer to disallow use for hate "profit" (ie - use the image in pro-hate merchandise or literature). Likewise a religious group could take an image of someone dying and place it on a t-shirt saying "Aids Kills" and sell it. I fully believe that a photographer should be allowed some choice in how their image is used.

The freedom to distribute derivative works

Sort of a given with any of these "free" licenses. But perhaps in conjunction with any sort of image options as defined above this would slightly change what the "derivative work" could be used for.

Probably most of this could be added in the Permissible restrictions section too. It would be good to hear other photographers input on this and have a discussion on ways to make this work. Soundvisions1 21:31, 1 October 2008 (EDT)

Time scope and revocability of licenses, etc...

The present definition is unclear concerning

  • Licenses allowing free use for a definite time scope (1 year only, 1 week only)
  • Licenses with a "for the time being", or "until revoked" clause.

The only point where the present definition clearly rejects revocability is in connection with patents : should not be protected by patents, unless a world-wide, unlimited and irrevocable royalty-free grant... but there is no such condition in connection with copyright.

I suggest that future versions of the definition should address this concern.

I have also questions concerning the space scope : what about non-worldwide, free-in-only-a-few-countries licenses ?

Teofilo 04:12, 20 November 2008 (EST)

I made a small edit in the unstable version, to reflect this concern : (diff). Teofilo 04:48, 20 November 2008 (EST)
Compare with the following statement in the definition of « free software » : In order for these freedoms to be real, they must be irrevocable as long as you do nothing wrong; if the developer of the software has the power to revoke the license, without your doing anything to give cause, the software is not free. The Free Software Definition, by the Free Software Foundation. Teofilo 20:15, 28 November 2008 (EST)
If I understand the intent correctly, it seems to me that it would help to express the "without limitation" principle by explicitly stating that rights granted by any free license should be both perpetual (non-expiring) and non-revocable. Do all of the current stock licenses explicitly express this? Danorton 17:26, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
I agree that this is a very important clarification to make in the definition. It seems that wording to this effect has been added and removed from various versions of the official definition over the years (and is absent in the current version). I'm not sure why its inclusion has been inconsistent, as it seems to have been part of the unstable version consistently since at least 2006. Perhaps Erik could respond to this, as he is the person who has actually implemented most of the version updates. Is there a reason we don't want to define free licenses as unrevokable or is it just that most people consider this to be obvious? Kaldari 19:05, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't recall that this has been added before - perhaps I missed it? If you can find it, could you provide a diff? I don't have any problem with adding this to the definition, but I'll post the issue to our mailing list so other people are aware of it as well.--Erik Möller 00:42, 16 April 2009 (UTC)
The very specific language that has been in the unstable version for a while has never been in this version, as far as I know, but the statement that the freedoms "should be available to anyone, anywhere, anytime" was in both version 0.9 and version 1.0, but was stripped out of version 1.1. This led to a discussion about whether that phrase should be included in the commons licensing policy or not. Personally, I don't think the sentence itself is that important, but the definition should specifically address the issue of revokability somewhere. Kaldari 16:47, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Agree that "perpetual" and "irrevocable" should be added. Popular free licenses already do so, and the fear that the author can revoke the work any time and thereby disrupt your financial plans can be a very large barrier to reuse for e.g. a book publisher. --Tgr 21:45, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

"Perpetual and non-revocable" are core tenets of open licensing, and need to be stated explicitly. The can of worms which is created by revocable licensing would make this whole endeavor unworkable and open to massive a posteriori abuse. What's more, it would also create an atmosphere of uncertainty about the freedoms being granted, and potentially also tie up the community in courtrooms. This is why free software and CC licenses state it plainly, and OSHW needs to do likewise. Morgaine Dinova 22:46, 17 September 2011 (EDT)

Permanent URLs

This needs stable URLs fast. It is impossible to link to it from a legal document as long as the text can change at any time. Definition/1.0 and Definition/1.1 should contain unchanging texts, and so should Definition/1.0/de etc. And they should be referred from the header so readers realize Definition is not a stable text.

(Also, could someone clean out the porn ads from the mailing list home page? Or at least remove the link to them from the site notice?) --Tgr 04:00, 27 November 2008 (EST)

I don't know if this is what you need, but there is a "permanent link" in the toolbox, in the left margin. However, "The definition itself is not a license", so be careful not to use in a legal document as if it were a license. Teofilo 07:27, 27 November 2008 (EST)

The definition is inteded to be used in legal documents to define what kinds of licenses are acceptable. That's how the Wikimedia Foundation used it in their licensing policy resolution, and IIRC this site was originally created as part of that resolution. And the link to this definition (which plays quite a fundamental role in the policy) now points to a different text than it did when the resolution was passed. Though it says explicitly 1.0, so the intention is clear there, but even if the reader does realise that he has been sent to the wrong page (whch does not exactly create an air of professionalism btw), he has no idea where to find the tight text. (Keep in mind that the intended target audience of this site goes much beyond the wiki world, so the reader is not neccessarily wiki-savvy.) When the wording of a document is less cautious and doesn't explicitly name the version, that could lead to even bigger problems. --Tgr 20:09, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Tgr, I got your point, you're right that separate versions should be uniquely accessed. This is an easy job to do, and you can help me if you please, as most of the pages are not protected. It is possible to find the precise version before the 1.0->1.1 update and copy it into a subpage, and then exchange links in order to have all readers informed. I will spend some time in the weekend... Spiritia 17:48, 28 November 2008 (EST)
I am not able to help for the Korean translation only. I cannot recognize words "version" and "stable" in order to make a precise change in the wordings. For the latin and cyrillic languages, even for Greek, this was an easy job to do. Spiritia 10:57, 1 December 2008 (EST)

First sentence

The first sentence of this article currently says:

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.

I propose that it be changed to:

This document defines "Free Cultural Works" as works or expressions which can be freely applied, studied, copied, modified, and/or distributed, by anyone, for any purpose.

I have just added "distributed", which appears in other parts of the article, but is strangely missing in the first sentence. In my opinion, "distributed" is important enough to merit inclusion in the first sentence. --Antonielly 18:33, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Box at top: link correction

I think the link to "Please help updating it ..." should go to Definition/Unstable and not to Template:Definition-langs. - K 17:45, 4 March 2012 (EST)

Agreed. I changed the link. --Mormegil 13:15, 10 March 2012 (EST)

New Translations

Please add Croatian language translation to the page. BTW, is there a policy on red links? Could you perhaps fall back to sans /<LanguageCode> and show a template with a translated text message of why this has happened, and where to click to create a /<LanguageCode> page --Paxcoder (talk) 19:26, 4 June 2013 (EDT)

Croatian added, thanks for the translation.
I don’t understand the proposal – which language codes would we show? There is a link to Translations; maybe the page should be improved with better documentation on how to create a new translation, but that’s about it?
--Mormegil (talk) 07:54, 5 June 2013 (EDT)
Hey, thanks for adding it. What I meant was: For pages that do not exist in a certain language, redirect to the original page (English, thus sans the language code suffix), and display a message above the article explaining what happened. This template would be translated in each language, and would look something like this: "This is the original (English) version of the requested article, please contribute a [[<CurrentPage>/<LanguageCode>|<Language> Translation]]". --Paxcoder (talk) 12:39, 5 June 2013 (EDT) EDIT: --Paxcoder (talk) 12:46, 5 June 2013 (EDT)


It would be wonderful if the wiki implements Extension:Translate. It would be some work to be done to move existing translations to the new system but that is not that hard. It is much easier to track changes to the original page and update them in a translation this way (not to say that the translation itself becomes easier). --Base (talk) 23:49, 10 August 2015 (EDT)

That’s correct, but I’d say changes to the original page are very rare on this wiki, so it might not be worth it. --Mormegil (talk) 08:53, 11 August 2015 (EDT)

Propose numbering of freedoms

When I am talking about free software, I link people to the philosophy page. The numbering of the four essential freedoms, 0 through 3, helps me refer to individual ones. However, when referring to a free cultural work or free culture generally, it feels confusing or almost off-topic to link to a page specifically about software. So I link to the Definition here, but I wish it was numbered; preferably the same scheme. This code:

<ol start="0">


  1. Use
  2. Hack
  3. Share
  4. Derive

Arlo James Barnes (talk) 20:03, 19 July 2017 (EDT)

Meaning of “We discourage you to ...”

While I'm translating into Japanese, I'm wondering which “We discourage you to use other terms” (in the Identifying Free Cultural Works section) means, “We don't recommend you to use other terms” or “We're not glad to use other terms.” Does anyone have any idea?

The old 1.0 translation says “...あなたが他の語を使うのであれば、われわれは失望するでしょう。”, that would be literally interpreted as meaning “We would be disappointed in you, if you use other terms... --MaySoMusician (talk) 17:23, 21 April 2020 (CEST)

I am not sure I understand the distinction you are making. I understand it to be “We don't recommend you to use other terms”, which is for me basically equal to “We would be disappointed in you, if you use other terms...” (only differing in tone, not in the basic meaning). I.e. the definition is asking the creators to mark the free content they made as “free content”, because if the authors were to use other terms (like “open access”), the potential consumers (other people, the public) might be confused about the meaning of those terms. For that reason, “we” (the community of Free Cultural Works) do not recommend you to use other terms. Hope that helps. --Mormegil (talk) 09:31, 22 April 2020 (CEST)
In Japanese, “we would be disappointed” gives us an impression of them thinking with their hearts, while “we do not recommend” gives a sense of them thinking rationally.
I'll change the translation so as to enable to convey the difinition more correctly. Thanks a lot!
P.S. I totally forgot to sign my name --MaySoMusician (talk) 17:23, 22 April 2020 (CEST)

Please revert Existing Movements to Special:PermaLink/23031

The page was blanked, and it is linked by both 1.0 and 1.1 versions of the definition. However I was disallowed by the abusefilter from undoing the edits. Thanks. Dylsss (talk) 01:00, 23 May 2021 (CEST)

Done, thanks! --Mormegil (talk) 14:46, 25 May 2021 (CEST)

Post updated stats every few years!

Stats on translations, visits, use, or the # and breadth of materials available under FCW licenses, would be excellent. And perhaps an essay on the state of play every five years or so. What changes are taking place in policy, norms, meta-license gaming? Sj (talk) 20:02, 29 June 2023 (CEST)