While the ideals of the Free Culture Movement are by no means new nor rooted in the west, the Free Culture Foundation was initially launched as FreeCulture.org on April 23rd, 2004. FreeCulture.org was instrumental in the advancement of the free culture movement by supporting the establishment of dozens of free culture chapters around the world.

On May 1st 2006, the first draft of the definition of free cultural works was announced with a call for feedback and edits. The definition was inspired by the free software definition, and expanded the ideals of the GNU project to all media. Today, the definition of free cultural works is used to identify free and open content by the Free Software foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, and others. It’s also increasingly being used to identify open educational resources or courseware, open access publishing, and more.

On April 21st, 2013, the second day of the annual Free Culture conference ended with an announcement that the organization would be superceded by the Free Culture Foundation. The name change reflected a renewed obligation to free cultural works, and a commitment to broader anti-oppression coalition building.

The organization’s roots go as far back as an initial organizing meeting of the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons (SCDC) on September 14th, 2003.  Founded by students Luke Smith and Nelson Pavlosky, the SCDC originally focused on issues related to free software, digital restrictions management, and treacherous computing, inspired largely by the Free Software Foundation. One year after its founding, SCDC became Swathmore Free Culture, which would be the first chapter of FreeCulture.org. Later that month, they won their suit against voting machine manufacturer Diebold for abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to censor leaked emails revealing the vulnerability of their electronic voting machines.

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