Difference between revisions of "Archive:FAQ"

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We get a lot of e-mail with questions that are generally a result of misconceptions and a lack of awareness of the issues that FreeCulture.org and Free Culture groups were designed to respond to. We want to take those questions head-on and have something to point people to when they bring up these questions.
We get a lot of e-mail with questions that are generally a result of misconceptions and a lack of awareness of the issues that FreeCulture.org and Free Culture groups were designed to respond to. We want to take those questions head-on and have something to point people to when they bring up these questions.
If you're looking for a bunch of text that used to be here, see [[Misconceptions]].
==About Us==
==About Us==
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* donations
* donations
* ideas & comments
* ideas & comments
==Misconceptions and Myths==
* Isn't this just communism repackaged?
===Abolish copyright===
* You want to eliminate copyright altogether.
::FreeCulture.org supports and advocates for reasonable and balanced copyright law. We believe that artists and authors should be fairly recognized and compensated for their work.
::We believe copyright is good to the extent that it encourages the creation and diffusion of new works. But to the extent that copyright law constricts the creation and diffusion of new works, we believe it can be improved upon.
::PK [http://www.publicknowledge.org/resources/askpk/againstcopyright says]: Public Knowledge is not against copyright. We are for a shorter copyright term, for a length of time that better balances the public interest with the exclusive rights of the creator.
===No money for artists===
* You want artists to work for free?
** No. Free culture does not mean unpaid culture, or "artists must starve."  As Richard Stallman puts it, we mean "free as in freedom, not as in beer."  Think free speech, or free markets, not "free decoder ring with every purchase."  Thousands of people (and more every day) are getting paid to work on [http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html free software], whether through personal donations (as Bram Cohen, the author of BitTorrent does), non-profits like the Mozilla Foundation, or companies like IBM.  In fact, for much of computing history, the hardware was considered the primary product, with software merely a gratis add-on.  You can make information and art freely available and still sell accompanying goods and services -- for instance, support subscriptions for software, concert tickets for musicians, or merchandise such as T-shirts.  Musicians like Jim's Big Ego (who released their last album "They're Everywhere" under a Creative Commons license) and authors like Cory Doctorow have recognized this, and do quite well for themselves.
* Why can't I copyright my work? I still want to get paid.
* Today's copyright term is necessary to encourage artists to create.
** Holding copyright on a work that you've created may encourage you to create, but you can't create after you're dead.  Copyright in the United States is now life of the author plus 70 years.  This means that a lot of work ends up in the hands of souless corporations or estates that enforce the author's copyrights in ways that the author would not have approved of.  See the "This Land is Your Land" parody case, [http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/JibJab_v_Ludlow/ JibJab v. Ludlow], in which the copyright holder acted quite contrary to the spirit of its original author, the late Woody Guthrie.  Guthrie once wrote: "This song is copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."
* My copyright is my property; I should have it forever.
:: [http://www.blackmask.com/thatway/books150c/freeculture.htm#2_2 Professor, give us a hand, if you will.]
===Free software===
* Some of the best and industry-standard software is proprietary. What's so special about free software?
* How can I trust something that's free?
* Why would someone give away their work? (How do programmers get paid?)
* ''Proprietary program X'' (e.g. Internet Explorer) is free. Why shouldn't I use that?
===Open content===
* Can't someone just put their name on it and sell it as theirs?
* Why would someone give away their work? (How do creators get paid?)
* Why do you defend pirates who steal from artists?
* There's no legitimate purpose for peer-to-peer filesharing.
*"Aren't peer-to-peer (P2P) networks only good for illegally downloading popular music and movies?"
Like any Internet protocol --  for instance, the web or e-mail -- P2P networks can be used for both legal and illegal uses. Legal uses of P2P networks include the distribution of works that are in the public domain (e.g., [http://www.p2pcongress.org congressional hearings]) or are Creative Commons licensed (e.g., [http://www.undeadart.org zombie remixes]). MORE
"Yeah, but if we outlaw P2P networks, people will still be able to share public domain stuff over the web."
But P2P networks are unique in that they virtually eliminate the cost of distribution. And while it doesn't cost much to serve your personal thoughts on your blog, it can be quite expensive to share your personal videos and audio recordings over the web. Technologies like BitTorrent allow supply to scale with demand, so that the burden of distribution is spread out among all those downloading the file. This means it is now possible for ''anyone, anywhere'' with an Internet connection to distribute Podcasts and home videos and amateur documentaries at zero cost. In this way P2P provides an outlet for speech that might otherwise not be heard.
* Filesharing causes decreased record sales.
* Filesharing is used for child pornography / other obscenity.
** So are printing presses and cameras.  Are you suggesting that we should ban all technology that can be used for bad purposes?  I can kill people with a hammer, but I can also build houses with it.  Don't ban hammers.
* Is it really creativity if you're just remixing what already exists? Can't you do this with fair use already?
::We believe creativity can be embodied in many forms. Certainly some of the best and most beloved writers, singers, and directors of our time are known for their originality and innovation, however, even they had influences and inspiration from those who came before them. The ability to draw upon the work of those who have preceded you is not only necessary for innovation, but is the basis for a surprisingly wide range of popular works today. Walt Disney made an entire career out of adapting traditional fairy tales to. Creativity is as much a function of creating something new out of nothing as it is creating new and original ideas out of the old.
::Fair use is certainly an important aspect of copyright that allows for many academic and creative uses of works. However, there have been increasing threats to copyright, especially in the digital arena, that are significant enough to have a chilling effect on innovation and creativity in a variety of situations. When the 6th circuit court of appeals declared "get a license or do not sample," on September 7, 2004, it struck down years of precedent that has allowed artists to draw from our common culture and adapt and reuse even the smallest sound in a new way.
* The public domain is already pretty big. Why does it need to grow?
* You guys seem all over the place: free software, filesharing, open content, copyright law, patents, trademarks, free speech online... What's the connection?
:: We believe that culture -- speech, writing, art, music, film, dance, and so on -- is integral to an individual's relationship with society. Through culture, you define yourself -- what you think, what you feel, what you identify with, what you disagree with. Being able to participate in culture is an important part of being able to participate in society.
::# '''The laws.''' The laws of what is known as "intellectual property" -- in particular, copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secret -- are society's way of regulating culture. In the United States, the Constitution authorizes Congress to establish a monopoly for creators for a limited period of time in order to promote progress. We agree: exclusive rights for creators, when properly balanced with other societal demands, yields maximal cultural progress -- more creation, discussion, critique, and participation. However, in recent history, business interests have dominated the public dialogue on how best to balance these rights. As a result, IP law, in some cases, has become less effective at promoting progress -- sometimes even inhibiting it, sometimes running roughshod over other human and civil rights. We aim to provide voices to represent a broader range of interests, with the goal of creating more balanced laws, to ensure the laws work to benefit the public good rather than special interests, and to ensure that people can participate in their culture. We further aim to increase public understanding and discussion of how the law operates; after all, if a law falls in the forest and no one knows how it works, what good is it?
::# '''The technology.''' Technology plays a key role in culture, from the printing press to the radio to the Internet. Recent advances in technology have greatly widened the possibilities for people to participate in culture. However, the possibilities of technology to empower participation are wasted if that technology remains inaccessible, whether because it is difficult to understand, because availability is limited by price, or because use is restricted by law. Therefore, we aim to keep these new frontiers as free as possible, open to competition and innovation. Furthermore, we aim to increase public understanding and discussion of the possibilities and ramifications of new technologies, and encourage widespread participation in using and directing them.
:: These parallel interests manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Often, they intertwine: for instance, free software uses the law to ensure its code cannot be locked down by any party, expanding the commons in order to encourage the best uses of technology; the lawsuit which resulted in FreeCulture.org involved a company attempting to use copyright law to silence speech online. We aim to be open, best harnessing the traits of grassroots organizing; therefore, our interests may be diverse, but should always be guided by these principles.

Revision as of 03:58, 2 June 2005

We get a lot of e-mail with questions that are generally a result of misconceptions and a lack of awareness of the issues that FreeCulture.org and Free Culture groups were designed to respond to. We want to take those questions head-on and have something to point people to when they bring up these questions.

If you're looking for a bunch of text that used to be here, see Misconceptions.

About Us

Some of this information needs to go on a separate About page. In fact, I think we should stick to fixing misconceptions in the FAQ, and put most of this on the About page.

What is FreeCulture.org?

  • "students and supporters"
    • mostly college/university students, some high school & non-students
  • volunteers
  • not for profit
  • non-partisan
  • activists
  • community solutions
  • not communists (how do we say this? "pro-free market"? "pro-capitalism"?)
  • not radicals
  • not just nerds: nerds, artists, political types, etc.
  • relationship between FC groups, FC.o

What is free culture?

What do you do?

How are you organized?

  • FC.o
    • Core Team
    • other teams
    • Executive Director
  • Local groups

What is the history of FC.o?

What is your partisan bent?

FreeCulture.org is a non-partisan group. We are not officially affiliated with any political party. Our members are Republicans as well as Democrats, Libertarians as well as independents.

What is your relationship with other groups?

FreeCulture.org is not officially affiliated with any other organization. Groups we have worked with in the past include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Creative Commons, and Downhill Battle.

Who pays for this?

Our Web hosting is provided by X. The costs for our campaigns are paid for out of our own pockets as individuals or raised by seeking donations. [Say something about accepting donations / grants? ]

Are you a non-profit?

FreeCulture.org is not a for-profit organization, but we have not [yet?] incorporated as a non-profit. Donations made to FC.o are not currently tax-deductible.

How can I start a group at my school?


  • What do FC groups / FC.o believe? or What do FC.o members believe?
  • What do I need to believe to be a member? or What are the official positions on certain topics, so I can see whether I agree with you?
  • How dogmatic are you?

How can I help?

  • mailing lists & blog
  • join a team
  • join or start a group at your school
  • donations
  • ideas & comments