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FCX/Unconference/Charter for Innovation, Creativity, A2K

This workshop versed about the already (I hope famous) Charter authored during the 2009 Culture Forum in Barcelona. While we often are tempted to point out the bad and worse stuff of the current legislative initiatives, this Charter aims to be a positive reference document for discussing Copyright, A2K and Net Neutrality topics.

It is the work of more than one hundred experts and it’s always being improved. The current version 2.0 has been endorsed by dozens of individuals and organizations, some of the most popular listed at the end of the Charter.

Michael Johnson pointed out the existence of a similar document, the Libre Society Manifesto, by David M. Berry and Giles Moss. While (IMO) the purpose of this last document is different, I’m sure we can take ideas from it to include in the Charter, and of course welcome the manifesto’s authors to join us.

During the presentation we had a very interesting conversation with one of the attendees, a photographer who was publishing her work under CreativeCommons licenses. She told us that she usually faces problems with her clients since they’re not used to this (new?) way of publishing photos, and they often look for sole rights.

We arrived at the conclusion that this open-licensing is opening a new model of payment orientation: whereas the closed-licensing (all rights reserved, can’t copy nor redistribute, etc.) built the value around the content, the open-licensing is building the value around the work itself. Instead of paying for a piece of content, you pay the people who create this content to create it.

While it can sound rather new, this has been the most natural model in the Free Software world for a long time now. Since most Free Software is provided free of charge, as a consultant you can only charge a client for the work you have to do in order to adapt and customize it to his needs. One usually releases the resulting product, when appropiate, as Free Software, so instead of having to reinvent the wheel over-and-over again, other people can just pick up your work and extend it, which is much more efficient.

For example, I work with Plone, a Content Management System widely used in government-related and NGO sites. The amount of time the Plone contributors have spent on it must be really impressive, but it’s provided free of charge, gratis! This is sustainable because we use Plone to build websites, and the better and more powerful Plone itself is, the easier it is to adapt it to the customer needs, and so the more clients that are willing to hire these skillful developers.

This also encourages a new strategy to develop products: instead of developing the product and hoping to be able to sell it to enough clients to compensate the investment, you wait until customers have commited enough funding for the development. This way you have sold the product before developing it and therefore reduces the risk of supreme failure.