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From Definition of Free Cultural Works
Revision as of 09:59, 19 February 2007 by Pharos (talk | contribs) (→‎Metaphor suggestion: (+whimsy))
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Under "Permissible Restrictions": "... for the protection of protection of ...". This typo should not exist in a stable version. --Mrnorwood 18:48, 14 February 2007 (CET)

Thanks,fixed.--Erik Möller 19:21, 14 February 2007 (CET)

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. --Rob Myers 20:06, 14 June 2006 (CEST)

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)