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{{divbox|blue|Unstable version|This is the openly editable version of the definition. Please try to find a consensus for any significant changes you make on the [[Talk:Definition/Unstable|discussion page]]. If you want to work on a substantially different derivative, you can try [[creating a fork]]. See [[authoring process]] for more information.}}
 
{{divbox|blue|Unstable version|This is the openly editable version of the definition. Please try to find a consensus for any significant changes you make on the [[Talk:Definition/Unstable|discussion page]]. If you want to work on a substantially different derivative, you can try [[creating a fork]]. See [[authoring process]] for more information.}}
 
== 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.
 
 
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:
 
* the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
 
* the freedom to redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
 
* the freedom to make improvements or other changes, and to release modified copies
 
 
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.
 
 
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.
 
 
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.
 
 
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."
 
 
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.
 
 
== Naming and versioning ==
 
 
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.
 
 
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.
 
 
== Recommended and required criteria ==
 
 
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.
 
  
 
== Essential freedoms ==
 
== Essential freedoms ==

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