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Rewording Edit

I submitted a relatively large change. While the diff itself may be big, especially in the preamble, but I don't think I've made significant changes to the tone of the content. As a result, I think it is probably alright coming this late.

Here's a summary of the larger changes or set of changes that I made:

I removed a number of "therefores", and a number of comma-separated clauses acting as parenthetical asides that I thought it could survive without. I tried to break up a few long sentences. This was all purely stylistic.

I dropped the "in addition to a requirement of author attribution" from the preamble because it's clear without it (IMHO) and because it seems to qualify a statement about essential freedoms which we speak out against below. I think it's best to state clearly that there are essential freedoms and then there are some extra restrictions that do not in fact have an impact on these essential freedom. Attribution is one of these but need not be specially cases. This way it doesn't sound like an exception but an explanation that it is by definition free.

In two paragraphs of the first three paragraphs there are these two lists:

artistic works, scientific and educational materials, commentary, reports, and documents
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 seem to be redundant so I've tried to reduce it to just one list where the the first list was.

I've removed "regardless of their profession, their beliefs, their country of origin, or any other criteria" and just say "anyone, anywhere, for any purpose." I think it's just as clear and more general.

I switched the strange switch into the second person in the paragraph with the god like creator. It read nice but was a jarring switch.

I added a line or two mentioning that some licenses are also used purely to take away people's freedoms. ASCAP is a licensing organization. The last draft talks about licenses as if they are only used to give away freedom but they were first used to sell freedom in restrained ways.

I was confused by the line: "Indeed, depending on the nature of the work, it may even be unethical to deny any of the enumerated freedoms above." It seems like our argument in this document is that it's always unethical, on some level, to restrict essential freedom. I think that this sort of confuses the issue and, in any case, don't add much where it was.

I removed this phrase:

This definition only covers freedom in terms of copyright law; usage of a work may be restricted by other laws.

I guess I have two issues here. First, it's not clear what these other laws and this sounds very legalistic for a statement of principles. More importantly, it seems like we would want to oppose other types of freedoms articulated in other types of law as well. The FSD is useful in opposing patents just as well as copyright (which the overly forumlate OSD could not). I don't think it's necessary.

I've removed this phrase:

"Explicitly, it must not limit commercial use of the work."

Because I basically moved it into the list of essential freedoms above. There was already an example there and I think that this is important enough it's worth dealing with a little higher up in the document. I think it's now more clear and doesn't need to be mentioned below.

-- Benjamin Mako Hill 02:01, 30 April 2006 (CEST)

I'll have another edit later. The main problem I have is with the changes in the first few paragraphs about "information goods". First, I don't like this phrase because it essentially adopts the language of information as property, a commodity. I find it somewhat amusing that you would choose this language given your objections to the word "content". ;-) I find the argument against attempts to equate information with physical property very persuasive, and am inclined to remove this phrase entirely from the document.
The second problem is with the change to the examples enumerated in the beginning. The ones chosen - "Works built by communities collaborating as volunteers, art created for the purpose of shared enjoyment, essential learning materials, scientific research funded through taxpayer money, .." - were chosen explicitly because the argument that these works should be free is strongest and most persuasive. Reworded, it essentially sounds like a declaration against copyright on "anything that can be represented as a sequence of bits". This can definitely not stay this way.--Erik Möller 02:54, 30 April 2006 (CEST)
Sounds good. "Information goods" was clumsy and we're better off with out it.
I'm still worried by the list of things. We're suggestion, but not defining, the scope of the document here. Something to think about and work out in drafting period. --Benjamin Mako Hill 05:36, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

Fair Use

Angela made the point that we should position our definition vs. the existing rights of fair use. This echoes some of the sentiments of Larry's response. So we should think about that before we take it live.--Erik Möller 17:09, 30 April 2006 (CEST)

Made some further edits as per the above. Avoided explicitly mentioning fair use for now to avoid confusion, might add that later.--Erik Möller 02:28, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

I'm not entirely clear defining our position in regards to fair use should mean here. I'm concerned because (a) fair use is only in the US a few other countries. Some other juristictions have similar "fair dealing" law but there are important differences. It's also a balancing act left up to judges and can sometimes be very unclear. I'm also concerned because (b) fair use is a set of compromises that is supposed to balance what would be overly restricted copyright. Our argument here is that copyright is always overly restricted and that we need to not settle for fair use rights but for something more meaningful. Or am I completely off-base here? --Benjamin Mako Hill 05:44, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
No, I think you're right. From an ethical perspective, I think that it is important that fair use rights are also protected and broadened, but I'm not sure if this belongs into this definition. For now, I have added the phrase "Only very limited freedoms are granted to others" to clarify that copyright is not absolute; perhaps that is sufficient.--Erik Möller 05:47, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
I think an argument can be made that it is important that any definition expressly acknowledge fair use (US) or fair dealing (rest of the world) and/or any other exception or limitation to copyright law. This is because of recent judicial decisions that tend to find, for example, that one can contractually override exceptions to copyright law (such as reverse engineering). Thus, I think it could be important to clarify that licenses that satisfy the free content/expression definition are "fair use/fair dealing plus" and grant a layer of permissions in addition to and on top existing exceptions to copyright law. Happy to leave this up to community discussion, however.--Mia Garlick 10:12, 1 May 2006 (PDT)

Fair use is not unified at all among countries, so referring to it in the definition would introduce uncertainty and complication (unless the definition also gives its own definition of fair use). Moreover, fair use is completely covered by the rights specified in the definition AFAIU. --Antoine 20:43, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

I would submit that the issue of whether a specific acknowledgement that free licenses apply in addition to and on top of existing exceptions and limitations that exist at law should not be decided based on whether the term "fair use" is used or not. One can use the terminology that I have just used "exceptions and limitations at law." This encompasses jurisdictional differences. And it should not be the case that "fair use" or any other exceptions or limitations are covered by the rights specified in the definition. In fact, I would have thought that the entire point of free licenses is to carve out a space that exists beyond what is currently provided for by law. --Mia Garlick 2:23, 2 May 2006 (PDT)

Hi Mia. As far as I've understood you correctly, I don't agree. Your proposal doesn't encompass jurisdictional differences, it just hides them which is vastly different. If I read "exceptions and limitations at law", I don't know what the text is talking about because those exceptions and limitations are different depending on the jurisdiction. Consequently, the text has no normative value because people from different parts of the world will understand different things.
Let me stress it, because it is very important: the Definition should be totally independent of any local specifics. There must be no international insecurity as to what legal system the definition is referring to when it is using a given expression. The obvious way to achieve this is to avoid any reference to regionally varying legal concepts (or only as a side note as is the case for moral rights; then fair use or legal exceptions to copyright might also be mentioned as a side note, not a constitutive part of the definition).
Please take example from the Free Software Definition: it is worded in terms which are clear for everyone in the world (assuming they speak English ;-)), it does not refer to any non-essential legal concept. Actually even the notion of copyright is not essential in the Free Software Definition: it is mentioned only as a common way of implementing the FSD, not as a constitutive part of the definition.--Antoine 01:05, 3 May 2006 (CEST)

Effective Technical Measures

In regards to the little back-and-forth about "effective technical measures." I now realize that you are using the term as a little legal term-of-art to distinguish between TPMs and things like formats or compression. However, I'm afraid it still blocks things like GPG/PGP encrypted email. I'm going to suggest a phrasing like, "technical measure designed to restrict the freedoms above from being exercised by the person to whom the work is distributed."

This phrasing doesn't block things like encrypted email, compression, formats, etc. and doesn't require using a relatively obscure legal term. --Benjamin Mako Hill 05:52, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

Physical works (non-digital)

User:Rgladwell said: How does the definition handle digital works (such as images, documents, etc) versus non-digitual works (such as hard-copy books, paintings, sculptures, etc)?

A requisite would be to replace "modified versions" with "modified copies". If one is allowed to make a "modified version" of a physical, autographic work of art, then the original is destroyed in the process. Not something we would like to encourage. --Antoine 22:02, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
I'm not sure we can really consider physical works to be covered by the definition: concepts like distribution, copying and modifications do not seem to really apply. --Ricardo Gladwell 23:50, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
You can read the Free Art License. It has been worded very carefully by artists and lawyers so that it does apply to physical works. The key is that there is a distinction between the original and copies. Only copies can be distributed and modified (of course, this applies seamlessly in the digital world where any transmission of data is implicitly a copy). By recursivity, a copy becomes itself an original for the person who receives it, and can make copies of the copy (modified or not).
All licenses need not be worded as carefully, but the Definition itself would be sub-optimal if its wording left this aspect onto the table.--Antoine 00:07, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
In which case I would note that when they say a copy they seem to be talking about a converting an original to a digital work for which the freedoms can then apply. The freedoms mentioned in the above license do not seem to apply to originals at all, in which case I would argue that Art Libre are really talking about digital works in their license and avoiding the whole question of physical works. --Ricardo Gladwell 11:47, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
You understood wrongly. Copies in the Free Art License can be analog copies (e.g. you can make an analog copy of a painting, which gives you a different painting). --Antoine 12:50, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
I'm not sure it does: the license also talks about the freedom to modify copies which implies that the copies themselves must have the property of modifiability which, in my mind at least, implies they should be digital (certainly, painting copies would not seem to fall in this category). I'm not sure you can talk about free software/content freedoms in respect to non-software works without really talking about digital works. --Ricardo Gladwell 14:09, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
Modified copies means the modification can take place in the course of making the copy itself. Like if you make a parodic copy of Mona Lisa: you don't need to first make a verbatim copy and then modify it. However, you can modify a non-digital work (a painting, a piece of sculpture...). --Antoine 14:21, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
I think the license authors should probably clarify that, the license seems to talk about the freedom to "modify the copies", but says nothing about the freedom to modify the reproduction process. Maybe the two things are the same thing but it would seem open to intepretation.
As for modifying painting and sculptures, you are right, of course, you can modify physical works although it's not a freedom I think a lot of people would use for sculptures and it's a freedom generally implicit in physical property law: once you buy a painting or sculpture you are free to do what you like with it. OTOH, digital works need this freedom thanks to advent of things like DRM and non-modifiable file formats such as object code and PDFs. --Ricardo Gladwell 14:34, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
Mmmh, you should not mix up physical property law and "intellectual property" law. Even if you bought the physical medium of an artwork, it doesn't give you the right to modify the work, because the "intellectual property" still belongs to the author (unless the rights were also granted or transferred by contract).
This is especially true in countries where the moral right of the author is protected by the law, by the way. In France, if you buy a painting and then decide to destroy or modify it, the author can sue you (and he will win). --Antoine
Have no fear, Antoine, I'm not mixing the two up at all and explicitly differentiated between them in my remarks above. My point was that when you purchase physical property you are implicitly free to what you like with it (i.e. modify it). That the Art Libre license makes reference to modification of copies seems to imply they are talking about digital works. But I think you didn't address all the points I made above.
Mmm... I'm not at all sure about your point about moral rights and modifying sculptures and paintings. I don't know a lot about moral rights law, but surely that would only apply if you publicly distributed the work or used the author's name in relation to the modified work? So are we talking about the freedom to modify or the freedom to distribute? --Ricardo Gladwell 15:11, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
No, not only. Moral right includes the right to the integrity of the work, so if you modify a work (even privately), you infringe on the moral right of the author. Moral right considers that the work is part of the personality of the author. (of course, in practice, the author cannot exercise his moral right if he doesn't learn about the modification or destruction of the work) --Antoine 15:23, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Things which are not works of the mind

The word "content" is good for non-material commons, but what about "material commons" like grains, electromagnetic spectrum, genetic information, "commons" in general?. They need also a "free/freedom" definition. --Vjrj 02:13, 3 May 2006 (CEST)

The Definition is about works of the human mind (and craft). It is not only a legal category, but also a philosophical one: creation of works - art works, software works, whatever - is a well-defined philosophical concept. The additions you are proposing do not belong to this category. Trying to find a "one-size-fits-all" ethical message only destroys the meaning of the message and transforms it into a meaningless slogan. But staying inside the boundaries of a clearly defined category of things helps us remain meaningful, and powerful.
Of course, this does not preclude someone else from giving a definition for "freedom of genetic information", "freedom of water resources", "freedom of electromagnetic spectrum", etc. Only, the issues are very different and it would be sterile to try to explain them in the same terms as free contents.
(btw., this kind of thing probably belongs in a FAQ ;-)) --Antoine 02:27, 3 May 2006 (CEST)

Source code

User:Erik_Möller said: 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.

The common position among the Free Art License people (not that I always agree with them ;-)) is that providing the source code is a subcase of allowing to study the work. They argue that the source code is necessary to study software, while there is no such necessity for works of art.
One could counter-argue that even if source code is not necessary to study a piece of non-software content, it is nonetheless very practical for doing modifications (the GNU GPL defines source code as "the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it").
Of course another problem is that some kinds a work do not allow any clear notion of source code. --Antoine 22:11, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
From my own perspective, as a representative of the Free RPG Community there are many examples where a source code is a real requirement. A pen-and-paper roleplaying game can be both an artistic work as well as a functional work. Roleplaying games can be converted into software computer games so source code can be required for this. Many players frequently make house rules and ammendments so access to source code is requisite for this - both to the rules and to the . There are so many reasons to have a source code even from just our narrow field.
This is quite aside from the fact that access to the source code of a free content work might be necessary not only to study the work, but to study how the work was put together. Trivially, this could mean as little as being able to examine a word processor document to see what fonts are being used, etc. A more important example could be being able to examine a layered image file to see how a image effect was put together.
I'm not sure which works you are referring to that do not have a clear notion of a source code: the only such works I am aware of are non-digital works in which case the other freedoms may not apply anyway (see my remarks above). Please see my remarks here for more infomation: Talk:Definition --Ricardo Gladwell 00:00, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
Ricardo, I fullheartedly agree that the distinction between artistic and functional works is a fallacy (I have already said this to various people, including RMS). That is why, in my opinion, the same broad freedoms should apply to free contents as well as free software (the wording of the definition can differ of course, and that's why we are here ;-)).
As for freedom for physical works, you can read my answer to your remark ;-))
But even for digital works, can simple "transparent" binary data be considered the source code for everything? Let's say I have the WAV recording of a concert. What do the bytes tell me about how the guitarist played the strings of his instrument, or even what precise notes he played, with what effects etc.?
Software writing is a symbolic activity (writing code is writing text according to certain conventions). As such, its representation as text (i.e. ASCII or Unicode bytes) is a perfect mirror of the way it functions. It is not necessarily the case with other types of works.
But I do agree that access to some kind of "source code" is important in many cases. Complicated isn't it? --Antoine 00:23, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
It is indeed complicated and I'm glad you also disagree with RMS false distinction between "artistic", "functional" and "political" works.
IMHO I always found the GPL definition of source code (BTW, why isn't the GPL listed as one of the free content licenses?) to be the simplest and most flexible. For example, when start talking about things such as music recordings, photographs, etc, in other words works that originate with physical objects, it is often better to apply the freedoms to the digital copies only. In your example, it is prohibitive to provide the recording studio, instruments, etc that produced the original work, but it is simple enough to provide the "preferred form of the work for making modifications to it", in other words, the uncompressed WAV files or the music in some other modifiable format of the digital copy. --Ricardo Gladwell 12:01, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
The problem with source code in works of art is that it's always hard to determine what is source code. Look at flash movies made by they use photos and drawings to create animated flash movies with words and music which usually are themselves derivative works. So what is source code? Original song with it's score? Original photos? Code they wrote using this or that program for creating flash animations? All of above? I'm not sure such a requirement will have a positive impact on culture. It is important to have an access to work without DRM restrictions. But asking an author for all the pieces he used in the process of creaton is not necessery and practical. There we have a problem of tools: most advanced programs for creating digital works are proprietary. Asking for a source code of a work is of little practical value if we do not have access for tools itself. Following that logic we could ask authors to use only free software tools what itself is a good thing, but this seems simply going too far. My opinion is, that source code is not necessity, much more important is using open formats whenever possible (and please note, that even now it's not easy if you create multimedia works). JaroslawLipszyc 17:24, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
I couldn't disagree more strongly: from my own experience the freedom to modify or study a work is strongly predicated on having access to the source. Without the access to the source, these freedoms are meaningless license verbiage. Again, drawing from my own experiences in the pen-and-paper RPG world, the recent "open gaming movement" used the Open Gaming License was a (partial) copyleft license with no source requirement used to license the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying system (more popularly called the d20 System). The original d20 system documents whre provided in a modifiable format. However, without the source requirement downstream publishers simply published derivative works in PDFs and hardcopies only, effectively creating a dead-end for the works, taking from the commons but not giving back to it.
I also dispute that it isn't clear what the source code is: the GPL clearly defines this as "preferred form of the work for making modifications" which, in the cases you mention above, obviously resolves the issue for the sources of digital works. In the case of the flash animation, the source is clearly the original SWF file, the image file is its own source, and I don't see an amiguity over that (whether requirements to provide all the elements used to compose a work should also be needed is a seperate discussion).
The argument regarding properietary programs also seems spurious: in the software world not all compilers are free software, cheap or easy to access but that doesn't have any bearing on whether you license software written for these compilers as free software. Whether requiring free software tools for free content is a completely seperate discussion. --Ricardo Gladwell 11:34, 3 May 2006 (CEST)
Ricardo, what you say is "in case of works of art source code means open format". Thus basically what we have to say is very similar, we define terminology differently. JaroslawLipszyc 12:10, 3 May 2006 (CEST)

Free expression?

User:Rgladwell said: Free expression 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.

Right to use and perform

Apparently the current definition takes as implicit the first freedom of free software (the right to use/execute). I suggest to make it explicit, because it allows to include "related rights" such as the right to perform (e.g. a play, a song...):

  • The freedom to use and perform the work: The licensee must be allowed to make any use, private or public, of the work. This includes all derived uses ("related rights") such as performing or interpreting the work.

--Antoine 01:15, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Right to study and apply the "information"

I find the phrasing "study and apply the information" a bit confusing. The word "information" seems to imply that only the symbolic (e.g. textual) content of the work can be studied, not its inner workings or the nuances of its making. Also, as pointed elsewhere, "information" is really sterile.

I would rephrase it:

  • The freedom to study the work and use the knowledge gained from the work: The licensee must be allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge gained from the work in any way. The license may not, for example, restrict "reverse engineering".

--Antoine 01:29, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Applying Knowledge

First freedom now is worded as "the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it". This may however be a problem when you think about it in context of scientific research. Copyright is covering just a publication, but there may be (and usually are) also included other "IP" law such as patents. I understand "applying knowledge" as a very wide term. I'm not aware of any exisiting license which may guarantee that patents will be not used. However this is a very good statement if we want to describe our ideals.JaroslawLipszyc 02:06, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

I think it is an absolute fact that free content cannot be impeded by patents. We need to work towards a clearer distinction, I think, between expectations we have from the works which are called free content, and from the licenses which are used for free content. I don't need to use a complex license that has clauses about patents if that is never relevant to me. Similarly, regarding earlier discussions about source code, I don't need anything in my license about source code if I'm talking about an essentially transparent work such as an essay. So I think we need to work towards emphasizing this distinction more clearly, and then formulate precisely what expectations there are from a work that is considered free content.--Erik Möller 02:35, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
And maybe "freedom to study" is good enough as a license requirement? JaroslawLipszyc 03:38, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
This is one of the cases where the absence of a clause restricting freedoms may already meet the requirements, I think. Generally, you're free to study and apply knowledge from a work, unless the terms under which you have done that restrict you from doing so. What I think is important, especially if we want this definition to be a superset of the free software definition, is that we make it clear that the work itself must be available in a format suitable for modification. Whether or not the license protects that state of transparency is optional.--Erik Möller 09:54, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Non-commercial not free?

It seems very arbitrary to call popular non-commercial licenses such as CreativeCommons Attrbution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike non-free! I believe all current usages of the term free content or free license allow a non-commercial clause. Very little content will be free under this definition as few content creators allow other people to profit from their hard work without paying royalties. I see no reason why a license prohibiting the receiver from profiting from content he got for nothing can not be called free.

In fact, I think CC A-NC-SA is the model minimum free license, as it makes use of most of the restriction clauses permitted here plus NonCommercial. This definition should allow non-commercial licenses to fall under this umbrella. The interests of Wikimedia can still be satisfied by saying only Comercial Free Content and Fair Use were allowed. Prohibiting the reuser from making profit serves to protect the free status of the content, thus justifying its use as a restriction in the license. 06:55, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

You can find my thoughts on the Creative Commons NC licenses here. The idea that any kind of commercial venture is an "evil" from which people must be "protected" is a highly fallacious one; indeed, it is exactly the commercial use of free content and free software that has enabled some of the most exciting projects today, ranging from the adoption of free software in large sections of industry to the integration of Wikipedia content into search engines, CD-ROMs, and existing lookup tools. Especially in a collaborative context, it is essential to grant this freedom from the start, as it is virtually impossible to get permission from any contributor to a wiki for a particular commercial use.
It is perfectly alright for authors and artists not to reliniquish rights in accordance with this definition. But the resulting works should not be called "free". There can be no compromise on the core freedoms in this definition. If anything, they may need to be expanded.--Erik Möller 09:15, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
I think that the provision on free redistribution makes it quite impossible to simply "profit from others' hard work". If someone tried to derive unfair advantage from a work, then people are free to reject the offer and are very likely to find the work that the offer is based on under more reasonable terms. In fact, if a share-alike or copyleft clause is used, then you'd be likely to find whatever was added to the original work freely available too. NC clauses do nothing to prevent unfair usage, but will prevent many legit uses.--Kari Pahula 11:33, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
Not to allow commercial re-use is a critical limitation, as Erik aptly pointed out in his essays, e.g. OpenSource-Jahrbuch 2006. So this content simply is NOT free. That's why Stallman does not support CC anymore, because the different models get to easily thrown into a single bucket altogether. The importance about the commercial clause is that some value-additions are ONLY possible in a commercial context, when it is possible to integrate the new content e.g. in Websites with advertisements, or sell packaged DVDs etc. To protect the idea of free it is enough to add Copyleft provisions. 17:13, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
There is no such thing as simply profiting from others hard work. You can propagate, advertise and store their work, but these are all of benefit to the work's author (although this may require or at least be helped by the moral right of paternity). NC is a fundamental error, and the definition of NC is causing headaches. NC is another layer of permission culture, and is not Free. The FSF and DFSG freedom definitions require that work be allowed to be sold, so it is not true that they allow NC clauses. --Rob Myers 19:39, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
So - not surprisingly, I guess - I think that it is important to give some kind of recognition to those licenses that grant freedoms that are more flexible than an "all rights reserved" or "personal-use only" license. While I agree that it is not possible to accommodate those licenses within the current definition of "free" being debated here, I do think that these can and should be classified under a different brand of licenses that enable important freedoms that are palatable to different industries than would contemplate a "free" license. --Mia Garlick 18:09, 2 May 2006 (PDT)

Other Free Content Definitions

A took the time to compile a list of other free content definitions, feel free to update: -- Ricardo Gladwell 14:16, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Edited & added fc-uk definitions --Rob Myers 19:34, 2 May 2006 (CEST)