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Some people have been calling for a bulletin board. This is it. Talk amongst yourselves! Learn how to get started on this wiki if you don't already know. Basically, click on "edit this page" in the left-hand menu and add to the discussion. If you don't like the wiki, check out the other ways to contact us.

Hey folks! I'm Nelson Pavlosky from the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons, one of the founders and sysadmins for Why don't you start off by telling us what you think of the site? -- Nelson 20:13, 11 May 2004 (PDT)

How did you manage to set up such a simple and well-organized site? But, I was just wondering about your position on free culture and peer-to-peer technology. Do people have a right to share information? If there is a limit, where does that limit fall? (anti-sciolist student)

I think that "intellectual property" is a necessary evil at best, and a disastrous assault on civil liberties at its worst. This does not mean that I'm necessarily for the abolishment of copyright law or for widespread intentional infringement. I am against using "warez" (proprietary software which is illegally traded online), as it helps keep you addicted to closed, proprietary solutions; I think it is clear that the moral high ground is to use and support copylefted/free software.
As for sharing copyrighted music, it is clear that (in the USA) the Constitution established copyright to encourage creativity and benefit the public in a utilitarian fashion, not to protect some natural right of authors/creators. Keeping this in mind it is clear that if copyright begins to hinder creativity rather than helping it, it needs to be reduced in power and scope. Given that nobody is sure whether filesharing of copyrighted music is helping or hurting the recording industry as a whole (including indie labels, not just the RIAA), I think it is rather hasty and irresponsible to attempt to prohibit the practice. Ultimately, however, I believe it is ideal to participate in a gift economy and only listen to/support/share copylefted music. --Nelson 01:05, 3 Jun 2004 (PDT)
It should be pointed out that not all who label themselves free-culture advocates are in favor of total revocation of copyright and instituting a true gift economy of information. Lawrence Lessig is in support of a shortened copyright length similar to the length of copyright in the 19th or early 20th century (I believe the example he liked was 20 years with 20-year renewal).
And even those who do favor absolute revocation of copyright are fond of quoting Richard Stallman's "free as in free speech, not free beer", and look for means by which content creators can be compensated for their work through distributional or marketing leverage and so on. Abstractart 23:22, 3 Jun 2004 (PDT)
You have to make an argument about the production of culture. If copyright, the way it is defined by big media today, is weakened, will there be less incentive to produce culture. Let's talk in specifics - in terms of a medium. Will people produce less songs because there is not a strict enforcement of copyright? This is just speculation - but I bet that if you considered the number of songs released for free on the internet compared with the number of songs released by the big labels, the former would be greater than the latter - thereby discarding the widely held belief (or at least promoted by big media and portrayed as such) that less copyright enforcement implies less culture. (anti-sciolist student)
What is a sciolist, and why are you anti-it? I'm guessing that you mean socialist, but since you've made the exact same error twice, I'm wondering if that spelling is in fact intentional. Google doesn't know what a sciolist is. -- Nelson 18:14, 7 Jun 2004 (PDT)
A sciolist is someone who superficially shows off pseudo-knowledge. If Google doesn't know it, that does not mean it is an error or made up. Try a dictionary like the Merriam-Webster at People who use Google for information to show off knowledge are sciolistic ;-) By the way, do you think software is culture? Would you classify it along with music, films, and literature? (anti-sciolist student)
Wow, I'm really dumb. Google knows what a sciolist is, it does not know what an "anti-sciolist" is. But that's a very interesting question about whether software is culture. We've been including it when we talk about "free culture", but what exactly do we mean by that? I don't think that software itself is necessarily culture, but the process that creates it is a culture. Microsoft's software production process is an example of a proprietary "permission culture", while the Linux production process is an example of "free culture". I'm not sure that we've been using the phrase "free culture" in a consistent manner. I don't think that a copylefted song is necessarily "free culture" in itself, it was produced by a free culture and it encourages and aids the further development of a free culture. I need to back and read Lessig's book all the way through to see how he uses the phrase... I can't believe I still haven't finished reading it, but hey, that's what summer is for :-) -- Nelson 22:31, 12 Jun 2004 (PDT)
Well, the way Lessig uses the term is based primarily on the notion of culture as building blocks. Pieces of existing music can be put together to create (what Lessig deems as) original new music. Similarly, pieces of video can be put together to create a new video. Sure, pieces of software can be put together to create new software. But, that does not necessarily imply software has the same cultural status as music or film. Software is used primarily as a a means to build, share, edit existing culture (e.g. music/film). Yet, if software is only a means for culture, it is not culture itself. Lessig uses the term free culture too loosely. And one is left pondering exactly just what is culture. At least one chapter should have been dedicated on defining culture on a book about Free Culture. For a broader perspective on what culture is, why it was free, how it became unfree, and why it should be made free again - read Siva Vaidyanathan's Copyright and Copywrongs. (anti-sciolist student)

Nice articles at Everything2 about "Internet piracy and the working writer", worth checking out. MikeCapone 10:59, 2 Jun 2004 (PDT)

Nice article on the concept of a "gift economy". MikeCapone 14:27, 5 Jun 2004 (PDT)

Hey folks, can y'all chip in on writing up a transcript of Lessig At Swarthmore? And put anything else relevant at Lessig At Swarthmore I guess.

I've just found this nice quote in an article at The Reigster abut biometric DRM.

"But back to the original question. How can you understand this mind? It's simple really - it just depends on how you define the problem. Gary Brant's iVue is a good solution to a particular problem: it's just that many people identify the problem quite differently. The two have very different solutions. As your reporter sees it, music is created to be shared, so there's little sense in finding technological solutions that try to stop people sharing. The real problem is that the artists aren't being compensated, so rather than engaging in futile attempts to make people not share music, something we have always done and will not stop doing, the much simpler task of compensating the artist can then be addressed."

It's a nice reminder of where the real problem with music sharing is, as opposed to what the RIAA always brings up. MikeCapone 16:04, 11 Jun 2004 (PDT)


Feel free to add your ideas in the WhatToDo page, taht lists things that can be done to support free culture!

call to action

Hullo, I'm working on the FreeGames Wiki, among others on how to organize the free games movement. Of interest : pages on Creative Commons and Involving communities. I've been doing some propaganda for Creative Commons around that ... is there anything on that subject (games and free culture) that I could do around here ?

By the way ! Is there a place where I could put responses from people (mainly artists) I talked about Creative Commons to ? If there isn't, what would yout think of a "list of common answers" ?