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What is free culture?

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What is "Free Culture?" Perhaps one could begin by asking, what does a free culture look like? If you like our answers to that question, or at least find them intriguing, then maybe you'll be interested in reading our attempts at nailing down some concrete parts of a definition of free culture. Like everything else on this site, it is a work in progress... feel free to contribute!

  • A culture of freedom - The internet and digital technology can be tools of liberation. They have the potential to put tremendous power into the hands of the average person, if they are not perverted into a means of control. However, with great power comes great responsibility. To a large extent, free culture is about building a healthy, robust culture of freedom, where the people understand how freedom works and are comfortable with their liberty.
  • Free software - A lot of our philosophy is an attempt to apply the ideology of free software and the open source model to the rest of society.
  • Free markets - Free culture is about free competition, in the best sense of the term. Free culture offers you choices, rather than a single monopoly that can dictate its terms to you if you want to use any piece of modern technology. The freedom to innovate encourages the production of quality, not the crushing of competitors, as the best way to success.
  • Cheap Art - Free Culture has some parallels with Bread and Puppet Theater's Cheap Art Manifesto. There are some important differences, however...
  • Blogging - On the internet, anyone can be a publisher, and blogs offer two-way, person-to-person communication, raising the possibility of emergent democracy.
  • Free networks - Communication is an essential freedom that should be available to everybody, no matter if the person is rich, poor or an inhabitant of the developing world.
  • Web of issues - a draft of issues Free Culture may address as an organization.
  • A seemingly simple question - Nelson repeatedly fails to answer a simple question for the benefit of a reporter: what is free culture? Why does it matter?


Read the Free Culture Manifesto.

Downhill Battle's draft of a statement

Hey folks, check out this draft of a "What is FreeCulture.org?" for the website... my only problem with it is that although the intersection of technology and art is huge, our movement is still larger than that. It's about a bottom-up, participatory structure to society and culture, with an emphasis on the new possibilities that technology opens for us. This covers every aspect of life, not just art. What do y'all think? How can we expand the definition so that it is more inclusive and covers the rest of the movement?

Free Culture Intro

Freeculture.org is the organizing center for a new student political movement, sitting at the intersection of technology and the arts. We are working to:

  • Defend and expand fair use rights and the cultural commons.
  • Advocate for free and open-source software on college campuses and in government.
  • Advocate for Free text, music, art, images, videos, films, and other Free Culture.
  • Fight the encroachment of digital rights management and so-called "trusted computing".
  • Support filesharing and open exchange of art and music, while defending the rights of artists and musicians against corporate control.

This is a defining moment for the future of technology and culture. Society can move in one of two directions: towards open standards, transparency, and artistic freedom or towards proprietary software, limited rights, and restrictions on creativity.

College students are in a uniquely powerful position to redefine the future of our cultural commons. They have access and natural understanding of technological tools at hand, and they have incredible influence over some of the largest and most important institutions in society.

Art and technology have never been more intertwined. The direction towards an open culture is clear, the intellectual foundations are strong, and the only thing missing is an organized political force aimed at creating change. Over the next year, the student free culture movement will expand onto college campuses around the world, and could quickly become the most influential force in shaping the digital commons.