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Source Code

From Definition of Free Cultural Works
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Source code is a delicate question to tackle in the broad context of free contents. For example, the GNU GPL defines it as "the preferred form of the work for making modifications to [the work]". Indeed, source code is of primary importance for many kinds of works (especially software).

But there are also situations where the idea of source code appears irrelevant or even meaningless. Consider a digital recording of a modern rock concert. How do we define "source code" ? No symbolic or

Discussion of terms

  • structured: which gives access to the structure of the work (for example, an OpenDocument file gives access to the structure of the document, whereas a PDF file doesn't)
  • modifiable: whose format allows easy modification (including modification of structure)
  • computation: which does not involve any creative act from a human being


Of course, the source code must satisfy the freedoms of free content as well. Therefore, by recursion, our definition is not weaker than the one in the GNU GPL


  • software source code
  • editable text (raw text, XML, word processor files...)
  • vector graphics files
  • tablatures, lyrics
  • multitracks from an audio recording
  • ...