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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."
 
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 ==
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Social and technological advances make it possible for a growing part of humanity to ''access, create, modify, publish and distribute'' various kinds of works - artworks, 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 [[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.
 
 
 
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 ==
 
== Identifying Free Cultural Works ==

Please note that all contributions to Definition of Free Cultural Works are considered to be released under the Attribution 2.5 (see Definition of Free Cultural Works:Copyrights for details). If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then do not submit it here.
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