Definition of Free Cultural Works

Peter Suber points to new Definition of Free Cultural Works, that, adapting the Free Software Definition, says:

[…] works of authorship should be free, and by freedom we mean:

  • the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
  • the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  • the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  • the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

Doing exactly this same exercise, I wrote back in October 2003 what I thought were The four kinds of freedom of free knowledge, namely:

  • The freedom to use the knowledge, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the knowledge applies, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source information is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute knowledge so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the knowledge, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source information is a precondition for this.

Same thing with only a different approach: Benjamin Mako Hill and Erik Möller focus on content, and I do in knowledge :)


If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “Definition of Free Cultural Works” In ICTlogy, #41, February 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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2 Comments to “Definition of Free Cultural Works” »

  1. We are a little bit more specific in articulating these freedoms by distinguishing between licenses and works. Licenses can be used to secure freedoms, but works can be non-free even if covered by a free license (e.g. a closed source computer program that can be freely copied, but is effectively not modifiable).

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