Free content

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Free Cultural Works logo Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg
Free Cultural Works logo

Free content, libre content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work. [1]

Contents

Definition

A free cultural work (free content) is, according to the definition of Free Cultural Works, one that has no significant legal restriction on people's freedom to:

Free content encompasses all works in the public domain and also those copyrighted works whose licenses honor and uphold the freedoms mentioned above. Because the Berne Convention in most countries by default grants copyright holders monopolistic control over their creations, copyright content must be explicitly declared free, usually by the referencing or inclusion of licensing statements from within the work.

Although there are a great many different definitions in regular everyday use, free content is legally very similar, if not like an identical twin, to open content. An analogy is a use of the rival terms free software and open-source, which describe ideological differences rather than legal ones. [3] [4] [5] For instance, the Open Knowledge Foundation's Open Definition describes "open" as synonymous to the definition of free in the "Definition of Free Cultural Works" (as also in the Open Source Definition and Free Software Definition). [6] For such free/open content both movements recommend the same three Creative Commons licenses, the CC BY, CC BY-SA, and CC0. [7] [8] [9] [10]

copyright Copyright.svg
copyright

Copyright is a legal concept, which gives the author or creator of a work legal control over the duplication and public performance of his or her work. In many jurisdictions, this is limited by a time period after which the works then enter the public domain. Copyright laws are a balance between the rights of creators of intellectual and artistic works and the rights of others to build upon those works. During the time period of copyright the author's work may only be copied, modified, or publicly performed with the consent of the author, unless the use is a fair use. Traditional copyright control limits the use of the work of the author to those who either pay royalties to the author for usage of the author's content or limit their use to fair use. Secondly, it limits the use of content whose author cannot be found. [11] Finally it creates a perceived barrier between authors by limiting derivative works, such as mashups and collaborative content [12]

Public domain

public domain PD-icon.svg
public domain

The public domain is a range of creative works whose copyright has expired or was never established; as well as ideas and facts [nb 1] which are ineligible for copyright. A public domain work is a work whose author has either relinquished to the public or no longer can claim control over, the distribution and usage of the work. As such, any person may manipulate, distribute, or otherwise use the work, without legal ramifications. A work in the public domain or released under a permissive licence may be referred to as "copycenter". [13]

Copyleft

copyleft Copyleft.svg
copyleft

Copyleft is a play on the word copyright and describes the practice of using copyright law to remove restrictions on distributing copies and modified versions of a work. [14] The aim of copyleft is to use the legal framework of copyright to enable non-author parties to be able to reuse and, in many licensing schemes, modify content that is created by an author. Unlike works in the public domain, the author still maintains copyright over the material, however, the author has granted a non-exclusive license to any person to distribute, and often modify, the work. Copyleft licenses require that any derivative works be distributed under the same terms and that the original copyright notices be maintained. A symbol commonly associated with copyleft is a reversal of the copyright symbol, facing the other way; the opening of the C points left rather than right. Unlike the copyright symbol, the copyleft symbol does not have a codified meaning. [15]

Usage

Projects that provide free content exist in several areas of interest, such as software, academic literature, general literature, music, images, video, and engineering. Technology has reduced the cost of publication and reduced the entry barrier sufficiently to allow for the production of widely disseminated materials by individuals or small groups. Projects to provide free literature and multimedia content have become increasingly prominent owing to the ease of dissemination of materials that are associated with the development of computer technology. Such dissemination may have been too costly prior to these technological developments.

Media

Creative Commons Cc.logo.circle.svg
Creative Commons

In media, which includes textual, audio, and visual content, free licensing schemes such as some of the licenses made by Creative Commons have allowed for the dissemination of works under a clear set of legal permissions. Not all of the Creative Commons’ licenses are entirely free: their permissions may range from very liberal general redistribution and modification of the work to a more restrictive redistribution-only licensing. Since February 2008, Creative Commons licenses which are entirely free carry a badge indicating that they are "approved for free cultural works". [16] Repositories exist which exclusively feature free material and provide content such as photographs, clip art, music, [17] and literature,. [18] While extensive reuse of free content from one website in another website is legal, it is usually not sensible because of the duplicate content problem. Wikipedia is amongst the most well-known databases of user-uploaded free content on the web. While the vast majority of content on Wikipedia is free content, some copyrighted material is hosted under Fair-use criteria.

Software

OSI logo Opensource.svg
OSI logo
FSF logo FSF-Logo part.svg
FSF logo

Free and open-source software, which is also often referred to as open source software and free software, is a maturing technology with major companies using free software to provide both services and technology to both end-users and technical consumers. The ease of dissemination has allowed for increased modularity, which allows for smaller groups to contribute to projects as well as simplifying collaboration. Open source development models have been classified as having a similar peer-recognition and collaborative benefit incentives that are typified by more classical fields such as scientific research, with the social structures that result from this incentive model decreasing production cost. [19] Given sufficient interest in a software component, by using peer-to-peer distribution methods, distribution costs of software may be reduced, removing the burden of infrastructure maintenance from developers. As distribution resources are simultaneously provided by consumers, these software distribution models are scalable, that is the method is feasible regardless of the number of consumers. In some cases, free software vendors may use peer-to-peer technology as a method of dissemination. [20] In general, project hosting and code distribution is not a problem for the most of free projects as a number of providers offer them these services free.

Engineering and technology

Open source hardware logo Open-source-hardware-logo.svg
Open source hardware logo

Free content principles have been translated into fields such as engineering, where designs and engineering knowledge can be readily shared and duplicated, in order to reduce overheads associated with project development. Open design principles can be applied in engineering and technological applications, with projects in mobile telephony, small-scale manufacture, [21] the automotive industry, [22] [23] and even agricultural areas. Technologies such as distributed manufacturing can allow computer-aided manufacturing and computer-aided design techniques to be able to develop small-scale production of components for the development of new, or repair of existing, devices. Rapid fabrication technologies underpin these developments, which allow end-users of technology to be able to construct devices from pre-existing blueprints, using software and manufacturing hardware to convert information into physical objects.

Academia

open access Open Access logo PLoS white.svg
open access

In academic work, the majority of works are not free, although the percentage of works that are open access is growing rapidly. Open access refers to online research outputs that are free of all restrictions on access (e.g. access tolls) and free of many restrictions on use (e.g. certain copyright and license restrictions). [24] Authors may see open access publishing as a method of expanding the audience that is able to access their work to allow for greater impact of the publication, or may support it for ideological reasons. [25] [26] [27] Open access publishers such as PLOS and BioMed Central provide capacity for review and publishing of free works; though such publications are currently more common in science than humanities. Various funding institutions and governing research bodies have mandated that academics must produce their works to be open-access, in order to qualify for funding, such as the National Institutes of Health, RCUK (effective 2016) and the EU (effective 2020). [28] [29] [30] [31] At an institutional level some universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have adopted open access publishing by default by introducing their own mandates. [32] Some mandates may permit delayed publication and may charge researchers for open access publishing. [33] [34] Open content publication has been seen as a method of reducing costs associated with information retrieval in research, as universities typically pay to subscribe for access to content that is published through traditional means [10] [35] [36] whilst improving journal quality by discouraging the submission of research articles of reduced quality. [10] Subscriptions for non-free content journals may be expensive for universities to purchase, though the article are written and peer-reviewed by academics themselves at no cost to the publisher. This has led to disputes between publishers and some universities over subscription costs, such as the one which occurred between the University of California and the Nature Publishing Group. [37] [38] For teaching purposes, some universities, including MIT, provide freely available course content, such as lecture notes, video resources and tutorials. This content is distributed via Internet resources to the general public. Publication of such resources may be either by a formal institution-wide program, [39] or alternately via informal content provided by individual academics or departments.

Legislation

Any country has its own law and legal system, sustained by its legislation, a set of law-documents documents containing statutory obligation rules, usually law and created by legislatures. In a democratic country, each law-document is published as open media content, is in principle a free content; but in general, there are no explicit licenses attributed for each law-document, so the license must be interpreted, an implied license . Only a few countries have explicit licenses in its law-documents, as the UK's Open Government Licence (a CC-BY compatible license). In the other countries, the implied license comes from its proper rules (general laws and rules about copyright in government works). The automatic protection provided by Berne Convention not apply to law-documents: Article 2.4 excludes the official texts from the automatic protection. It is also possible to "inherit" the license from context. The set of country's law-documents is made available through national repositories. Examples of law-document open repositories: LexML Brazil, Legislation.gov.uk, N-Lex of EU countries. In general, a law-document is offered in more than one (open) official version, but the main one is that published by a government gazette. So, law-documents can eventually inherit license expressed by the repository or by the gazette that contains it.

See also

Notes

  1. The copyright status of uncreative aggregates of basic data may differ by region, for the USA see Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service , for Australia, see Telstra v Desktop Marketing Systems

Related Research Articles

Free software software licensed to preserve user freedoms

Free software or libre software is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, not price: users—individually or in cooperation with computer programmers—are free to do what they want with their copies of a free software regardless of how much is paid to obtain the program. Computer programs are deemed free if they give users ultimate control over the software and, subsequently, over their devices.

Open content creative work that others can copy or modify

Open content describes any work that others can copy or modify freely by attributing to the original creator, but without needing to ask for permission. This has been applied to a range of formats, including textbooks, academic journals, films and music. The term was an expansion of the related concept of open-source software. Such content is said to be under an open licence.

An open-source license is a type of license for computer software and other products that allows the source code, blueprint or design to be used, modified and/or shared under defined terms and conditions. This allows end users and commercial companies to review and modify the source code, blueprint or design for their own customization, curiosity or troubleshooting needs. Open-source licensed software is mostly available free of charge, though this does not necessarily have to be the case. Licenses which only permit non-commercial redistribution or modification of the source code for personal use only are generally not considered as open-source licenses. However, open-source licenses may have some restrictions, particularly regarding the expression of respect to the origin of software, such as a requirement to preserve the name of the authors and a copyright statement within the code, or a requirement to redistribute the licensed software only under the same license. One popular set of open-source software licenses are those approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) based on their Open Source Definition (OSD).

Viral license is an alternative name for copyleft licenses, especially the GPL, that allows derivative works only when permissions are preserved in modified versions of the work. Copyleft licenses include several common open-source and free content licenses, such as the GNU General Public License (GPL) and the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license (CC-BY-SA).

The Open Publication License (OPL) was published by the Open Content Project in 1999 as a public copyright license for documents. It superseded the Open Content License, which was published by the Open Content Project in 1998. Starting around 2002-2003, it began to be superseded, in turn, by the Creative Commons licenses.

Creative Commons license licence for use of a work

A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work". A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. CC provides an author flexibility and protects the people who use or redistribute an author's work from concerns of copyright infringement as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license by which the author distributes the work.

Openness is an overarching concept or philosophy that is characterized by an emphasis on transparency and collaboration. That is, openness refers to "accessibility of knowledge, technology and other resources; the transparency of action; the permeability of organisational structures; and the inclusiveness of participation". Openness can be said to be the opposite of closedness, central authority and secrecy.

A software license is a legal instrument governing the use or redistribution of software. Under United States copyright law, all software is copyright protected, in both source code and object code forms, unless that software was developed by the United States Government, in which case it cannot be copyrighted. Authors of copyrighted software can donate their software to the public domain, in which case it is also not covered by copyright and, as a result, cannot be licensed.

Free-culture movement social movement promoting free content

The free-culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify the creative works of others in the form of free content or open content without compensation to, or the consent of, the work's original creators, by using the Internet and other forms of media.

A permissive software license, sometimes also called BSD-like or BSD-style license, is a free-software license with minimal requirements about how the software can be redistributed. Examples include the GNU All-permissive License, MIT License, BSD licenses, Apple Public Source License and Apache license. As of 2016, the most popular free-software license is the permissive MIT license. Permissive licenses do not try to guarantee that future versions of the software will remain free and publicly available, in contrast to copyleft licenses, which have reciprocity requirements which try to enforce this. Software under a permissive license can later be made proprietary.

Open-source religions employ open-source methods for the sharing, construction, and adaptation of religious belief systems, content, and practice. In comparison to religions utilizing proprietary, authoritarian, hierarchical, and change-resistant structures, open-source religions emphasize sharing in a cultural Commons, participation, self-determination, decentralization, and evolution. They apply principles used in organizing communities developing open-source software for organizing group efforts innovating with human culture. New open-source religions may develop their rituals, praxes, or systems of beliefs through a continuous process of refinement and dialogue among participating practitioners. Organizers and participants often see themselves as part of a more generalized open-source and free-culture movement.

WTFPL License for permissive use of intellectual property rights

WTFPL is a GPL-compatible permissive license most commonly used as a free software license. As a public domain like license, the WTFPL is essentially the same as dedication to the public domain. It allows redistribution and modification of the work under any terms. The title is an abbreviation of "Do what the fuck you want to Public License".

Open Source Judaism

Open-source Judaism is a name given to initiatives within the Jewish community employing Open Content and open-source licensing strategies for collaboratively creating and sharing works about or inspired by Judaism. Open-source efforts in Judaism utilize licensing strategies by which contemporary products of Jewish culture under copyright may be adopted, adapted, and redistributed with credit and attribution accorded to the creators of these works. Often collaborative, these efforts are comparable to those of other open-source religious initiatives inspired by the free culture movement to openly share and broadly disseminate seminal texts and techniques under the aegis of Copyright law. Combined, these initiatives describe an open-source movement in Judaism that values correct attribution of sources, creative sharing in an intellectual Commons, adaptable future-proof technologies, open technological standards, open access to primary and secondary sources and their translations, and personal autonomy in the study and craft of works of Torah.

License compatibility is a legal framework that allows for pieces of software with different software licenses to be distributed together. The need for such a framework arises because the different licenses can contain contradictory requirements, rendering it impossible to legally combine source code from separately-licensed software in order to create and publish a new program. Proprietary licenses are generally program-specific and incompatible; authors must negotiate to combine code. Copyleft licenses are deliberately incompatible with proprietary licenses, in order to prevent copyleft software from being re-licensed under a proprietary license, turning it into proprietary software. Many copyleft licenses explicitly allow relicensing under some other copyleft licenses. Permissive licenses are compatible with everything, including proprietary licenses; there is thus no guarantee that all derived works will remain under a permissive license.

Free software license license allowing software modification and redistribution

A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that software. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright law, but the rights-holder of a piece of software can remove these restrictions by accompanying the software with a software license which grants the recipient these rights. Software using such a license is free software as conferred by the copyright holder. Free-software licenses are applied to software in source code and also binary object-code form, as the copyright law recognizes both forms.

Copyleft Alternative to copyright

Copyleft, distinguished from copyright, is the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work with the stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created later. Copyleft software licenses are considered protective or reciprocal, as contrasted with permissive free-software licenses.

The open-source model is a decentralized software development model that encourages open collaboration. A main principle of open-source software development is peer production, with products such as source code, blueprints, and documentation freely available to the public. The open-source movement in software began as a response to the limitations of proprietary code. The model is used for projects such as in open-source appropriate technology, and open-source drug discovery.

GNU Free Documentation License copyleft license primarily for free software documentation

The GNU Free Documentation License is a copyleft license for free documentation, designed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU Project. It is similar to the GNU General Public License, giving readers the rights to copy, redistribute, and modify a work and requires all copies and derivatives to be available under the same license. Copies may also be sold commercially, but, if produced in larger quantities, the original document or source code must be made available to the work's recipient.

A free license or open license is a license agreement which contains provisions that allow other individuals to reuse another creator's work, giving them four major freedoms. Without a special license, these uses are normally prohibited by copyright law or commercial license. Most free licenses are worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and perpetual. Free licenses are often the basis of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding projects.

A public license or public copyright licenses is a license by which a copyright holder as licensor can grant additional copyright permissions to any and all persons in the general public as licensees. By applying a public license to a work, provided that the licensees obey the terms and conditions of the license, copyright holders give permission for others to copy or change their work in ways that would otherwise infringe copyright law.

References

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  2. Stallman, Richard (November 13, 2008). "Free Software and Free Manuals". Free Software Foundation . Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  3. Stallman, Richard. "Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software". Free Software Foundation.
  4. Kelty, Christpher M. (2008). "The Cultural Significance of Free Software - Two Bits" (PDF). Duke University press - Durham and London. p. 99. Prior to 1998, Free Software referred either to the Free Software Foundation (and the watchful, micromanaging eye of Stallman) or to one of thousands of different commercial, avocational, or university-research projects, processes, licenses, and ideologies that had a variety of names: sourceware, freeware, shareware, open software, public domain software, and so on. The term Open Source, by contrast, sought to encompass them all in one movement.
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  6. Open Definition 2.1 on opendefinition.org "This essential meaning matches that of "open" with respect to software as in the Open Source Definition and is synonymous with "free" or "libre" as in the Free Software Definition and Definition of Free Cultural Works."
  7. licenses on opendefinition.com
  8. Creative Commons 4.0 BY and BY-SA licenses approved conformant with the Open Definition by Timothy Vollmer on creativecommons.org (December 27th, 2013)
  9. Open Definition 2.0 released by Timothy Vollmer on creativecommons.org (October 7th, 2014)
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  22. Honsig, Markus (January 25, 2006). "The most open of all cars". Technology Review (in German). Heinz Heise . Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  23. "Australian drive for green commuter cars". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
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Further reading