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From Definition of Free Cultural Works
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Pushing to 1.0

I've made some significant changes to move us closer to 1.0, and I think that these are in line with the previous discussions as well as some comments from RMS:

  • I've tried to change the language so it can apply to physical works like sculptures. For instance, the definition now refers to derivative works instead of modified versions.
  • I've sectioned the page clearly into defining separately what a free license is and what a free work is. New conditions are now listed to define free works. For instance, a computer program that is only available in binary form under CC-BY would not be considered a free work now.
  • I've removed the term "Free Expression" -- it was largely negatively received in our naming discussion -- and now refer to the definition only as the Free Content Definition. To compensate, I've listed several specific terms and specific definitions that can be used in fields like knowledge, art and software.
  • I've made a reference to DRM, and changed a few bits in the preamble.

Please help in checking and improving these changes -- remember this is the unstable version, so anyone is free to edit. I'd like to reach 1.0 in August. By then I would also like to change the logo in the top left corner. My current favorite is Marc Falzon's design, so please comment on that on the logo contest page.

Thanks,--Erik Möller 04:11, 30 July 2006 (CEST)

Making it shorter

Great work, Erik! I think we have a problem: the text is very long. I would advocate finding ways to make it shorter, including putting some not-so-fundamental topics on their own pages, or in footnotes.

In particular, the preamble repeats lots of things that are said elsewhere. It has its own version of the bill of rights, which can only bring confusion. I suggest we strip it from the preamble. I also suggest we remove most of the second part of the preamble, starting from "Not all licenses grant the freedoms enumerated above", because it is really another slightly different way of saying what is said in clearer terms in the definition body.

Regards --Antoine 09:54, 30 July 2006 (CEST)

Yes, I think we can probably do some culling in the preamble. I'm not sure whether the short summary of the key freedoms really is redundant, though, especially now that we distinguish between licenses and works. The summary of the freedoms seems to provide an additional ethical context.--Erik Möller 19:37, 31 July 2006 (CEST)
Agreed. This is definitely too long. Why don't we remove the recommendations. They seem written with the GFDL in mind and with the goal of putting pressure on Richard Stallman. Richard has said that having them in this document serves no purposes -- especially since the GFDL is free under this license. I think we can loose it. --Benjamin Mako Hill 01:25, 8 August 2006 (CEST)

Use of the term "Free"

If an object or item has any restrictions upon it, such as a copyright license of any form, it is by definition not free. This so-called definition is merely deciding how much restriction is still "free enough". This will be be subjective, and supporting a single point of view. I could never support such a definition, personally, because I make an effort to avoid hypocrisy. - Amgine 18:58, 30 July 2006 (CEST)

I'm afraid there's not much to argue here. You are objecting to a "subjective" definition of freedom, as though there was such a thing as an "objective" definition of freedom recognized by everyone. The Free Content Definition must be read in the context of works of authorship. In this context it has the potential to become a very useful ethical and political reference point. Trying to make it coincide with everyone's own personal view of "theoretical freedom" is a battle which can only be lost and thus does not deserve to be fought.
In short, we'll probably have to agree to disagree. --Antoine 21:05, 30 July 2006 (CEST)
The only allowable conditions as per the FCD are either those that protect freedom, or those that we consider morally acceptable (e.g. attribution, which cannot even be given up in many countries). I fail to see how an ethical interpretation of freedom is hypocritical.--Erik Möller 19:37, 31 July 2006 (CEST)

A few thoughts to inspire more discussion :-):

  • Maybe the term "Libre" would be better?
  • Emphasise the freedom of the *users* of libre resources (authors are free to decide whether they release their resources with a free/libre license).

Altruism or not


the following excerpt of the preamble looks like it could lead to misunderstandings : 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 creative expressions are harmed by artificial scarcity. They benefit from being used freely. We therefore believe that these works should be free (...).

It seems to imply that works built by paid people, art created for other purposes than pure shared enjoyment, non-essential learning materials, etc., should not really be free, or that we don't care. It also contradicts the experience of Free Software where it is clear that cooperation between all kinds of actors (including those with egoistic purposes) is key to the vitality of the ecosystem. We should therefore think about another phrasing -- stressing the diversity of fields (software, art, etc.) and actors rather than making it look like a praise for altruism.

--Antoine 14:31, 22 August 2006 (CEST)

More changes


I've tried to further streamline the definition. I think it's important that each part of the definition has a precise purpose. For example, the preamble must mainly explain the political/ethical/moral purposes of this definition.

Even now, I have the feeling the definition is still long and a bit bureaucratically worded. I think for example that the discussion of why Free Culture et al. are too ambiguous should move to a separate page (which could also discuss why non-commercial and other restrictions are harmful).

Regards. --Antoine 15:49, 22 August 2006 (CEST)

Alternate preamble

I would like to propose the following draft for a slight rephrasing of the preamble: --Antoine 15:10, 23 August 2006 (CEST)

Social and technological advances make it possible for a growing part of mankind to access, create, modify, publish and distribute various kinds of works -- art works, scientific and educational materials, software, articles -- in short: anything that can be represented in digital form. Many communities, built upon mutually accepted ethical values, have arisen to give strength and structure to these instinctive practices; some of them in turn take part in broader social movements such as Free Software.

In most countries however, any original work of authorship is automatically covered by either copyright law or similar legal regimes3, which consider authors as god-like "creators" and give them exclusive powers they can use against people who try to re-use "their" content. These laws, whose economic justifications have their roots in Middle Age Europe, not only are not amended to acknowledge the growing importance of the practices outlined above, but are being made increasingly severe and far-reaching in the ways they restrict our freedoms. New tools such as DRM (or Digital Restrictions Management) are part of this desperate plan to limit the free spread and sharing of works by artifically enforcing scarcity.

Most authors, whatever their field of activity, whatever their professionnal status, have a genuine interest in favoring a graceful ecosystem where works can be freely spread, re-used and derived in creative ways. In this ecosystem which is often called "culture", existing and future works benefit from being used freely. We therefore believe that works of authorship should be free, and by freedom we mean:

  • the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  • the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  • the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

For a work to be free, these freedoms should be available to absolutely anyone, anywhere. They should not be restricted by the context in which the work is used. Creativity is the act of using an existing resource in a way that had not been envisioned before.

To do give these freedoms, authors can choose among a vast array of legal documents known as licenses; licenses make it very easy for authors to give and take their part in the vast ecosystem of authorship. Putting a work under a free license does not mean the author loses all his rights, but it gives to anyone the freedoms listed above. It is also possible in some countries to explicitly release a work into the public domain, which waives all rights the author has on the work1.

The rest of this document precisely defines the essential freedoms and provides guidelines by which licenses and works can be certified as meeting this definition, and therefore called "free".

Since there has been no comment or answer for 3 weeks, I've committed a modified version of this proposal. Antoine 16:56, 17 September 2006 (CEST)