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You are here: Home Bulletins Bulletins from 2008 Fall 2008 How the free culture community can work with the free software community?

How the free culture community can work with the free software community?

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Feb 12, 2009 05:09 PM
by Matt Lee, campaigns manager

In September, we released Stephen Fry's film to mark the 25th anniversary of GNU. For me, this was the culmination of six months of work, both with my colleagues here at the FSF, but also with Stephen and his colleague, Andrew, who was producing the film. We recorded a lot of footage, and the running time of the video eventually came down to around five minutes, with an extra minute for our lavish and congratulatory credit sequence in which we tried to cram in as many GNU contributors as we could name.

One criticism seen on many blogs was that by not permitting people to download and change the video, we were acting hypocritically. In reality, this is how we have treated works of opinion for many years, with our verbatim licensing. The article you are reading now, is no exception to that -- Richard Stallman outlines the reasoning behind this in his talk, Copyright vs Community, but it essentially boils down a difference between functional works, works of opinion and works of entertainment and art.

This lead me to wonder how the free culture community could work with the free software community. The free culture community is broad, with few organizations and many contributors. One effort has been to create a definition of free cultural works, with the Creative Commons Attribution and Atribution-ShareAlike licenses being listed as free licenses for creative works. This seems reasonable, and would rightly exclude our Stephen Fry video from such a classification. Many of the images displayed during the video were taken from various photo-sharing services, and made available under an Attribution license, which permits its reuse and alteration, as long as credit is given. This is similiar in nature to non-copyleft licenses, such as the X11 license.

Certainly, one way we can work together is to take the same approach to licensing as the free software community -- if you're creating artwork, for a free software project or not, license it under an Attribution or ShareAlike license. Musicians can license their music under these licenses and be included in free games like Frets on Fire. Making sources for these things available is important -- as more and more art is produced using software, the ability to make editable sources for these creative works.

Further, we should encourage artists to use free software for their works. Recently, the Dutch Ministry of Finance organized a competition to design a commemorative Euro coin. The winner, Gepostet von Stani, created his entire winning design using free software, proving, at long last, that you can make money with free software.

What can we do to support the creation of free art? What applications and software do we need to create?

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