Version 1.1 of the definition has been released. Please help updating it, contribute translations, and help us with the design of logos and buttons to identify free cultural works and licenses!


From Definition of Free Cultural Works
Revision as of 00:16, 2 May 2006 by Erik Möller (talk | contribs)
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Is there really a need for this? We already have so many licenses.

The Free Content and Expression Definition is not a license, it is a list of conditions under which a work must be available in order to be considered "free". In other words, it is a way to classify existing licenses. At the time the first draft of the definition was published (May 1, 2006), no such definition existed for free content (two definitions existed for free software).

So what do I need to put my work under this definition then?

As the definition is not a license, but only classifies which licenses can be considered free, you have to pick one of these licenses and apply them to your work (usually by attaching a text such as "This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license" with a link to the license text). If you want to express your support for free content, you can help us to develop a logo.

What are the primary uses of this definition?

There are two primary goals:

  1. to make communications with copyright holders more effective. Often, people state that their work is "free", "open content", or "open access", without qualifying this. The Creative Commons licenses are a good example of this: the Creative Commons logo simply states, generically, "Some Rights Reserved", and you have to click on he logo to find out which ones. It is very common for people to simply say that their work is "under a Creative Commons license". This can mean many things, including, in the extreme cases, licenses which restrict the use of a work to certain world regions, or which forbid both commercial use and derivative works. This definition allows you to simply ask: "It may be free, but is it free content?" and to refer to this definition for details.
  2. to bring unity and clarity to the growing free content movement. First of all, we need to define this movement in practical terms that we can agree on; secondly, we need to communicate its vision and beliefs to more people. The definition helps with the first part, logos and other awareness materials can help with the second. Finally, while this website is not a community site in the traditional sense, it may help to bring together people from different free content projects, and could lead to new web sites and organizations specifically targeted at the free content movement.

Aren't you pretty arrogant for wanting to decide for everyone what's free?

We are basing our work on the existing philosophies of free software and open source, on the existing policies of projects like Wikipedia, and on a strong moral conviction that as many works as reasonably possible should be available to all human beings, under the highest standard of freedom that can be achieved.

It may be desirable for some works to be "semi-free", but in some ways, that sounds a lot like "semi-pregnant". Nevertheless, we do not claim or wish to own a monopoly on the word "free". You are free (no pun intended) to use these terms as you wish. We recommend that you clarify what you mean, simply to avoid confusion. For example, "available for free download" is a bit of a mouthful, but it makes it very clear that you are talking only about the freedom to make copies from a central location.