The Four Freedoms of Free Culture: Avoid Cultural Slavery

→ comment to The Four Freedoms of Free Culture on QuestionCopyright.org.

Thank you for spreading the thought of freedom in culture!

I currently don’t use creativecommons licenses on my site, because they have no source protection (you can’t exercise your right of modifying, if the work is hidden inside some non-source container, like autoscrolling flash).

Instead I use the GPLv3, for my site (draketo.delicensing) as well as for a free roleplaying book I write (1w6.org — german).

My reason for using free licenses in all my hobby work is simple: When a cultural work becomes part of my life, any restriction on using that work takes away a part of my personal freedom.

That’s why freedom is essential for all cultural works that matter.

Becoming part of my life means that I identify with it, that it means something to me. If there’s a really cool song I listen to all day, then it becomes part of my life.

If I then can’t change and share it, when my tastes change, that part of my life is locked and my freedom taken away. Works which don’t mean something to me can’t take much of my freedom away. But if a cultural work means something to someone out there — to anyone — then it has to be free to avoid stealing that one fans freedom.

So any unfree cultural work is either useless (doesn’t mean anything to anyone) or it’s a tool for cultural slavery (stealing our freedom).1

And I think Stallman is simply afraid. In Software he has the confidence that his work will be improved by others. In culture he doesn’t. I think that’s part of his life, and the only way to change that is to show that free culture is a success for political movements, too.

It’s hard to allow your child to spread its wings and fly on its own, and I think that for him, his manifests which spawned the free software movement are his children.


  1. At the same time, though, a cultural work which doesn’t get written doesn’t have the potential to help people progress. So if an unfree work helps people throw off other shackles, then the net gain for freedom might be positive. Just always keep in mind, that being unfree has a cost for every user of the work – which includes all your fans. If your work is unfree, it is worth less than if it were free licensed. 

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