Archive:Discussion 2: Code, Freedom, and Control

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Schedule: Discussion 1 | Discussion 2 | Infinite Smallness | Lunch National FC discussion | Discussion 3 | Chapter & project reports
Workshop Session 1: Open Access | Free Software | Free Music & Remix Culture | Free Video & Open Media
Workshop Session 2: Digital Disobedience | Communication and Collaboration | A Vision for | Models for Creators
2007 workshop reports +/-

John Sullivan, Free Software Foundation

...My background is more free culture than free sotware, since I used to do a lot of art.

It's not alright to let MS off the hook b/c others might have worked with big media to enable DRM. If MS had said no, who eles would big media have gone to?

Any time we talk aout goin gafter proprietary media, ew also ened to talk about going after MS and Apple, the companies that make tech that enables these restrictions to be used. We think software is the lens through which a lot ofa rt is viewed now. If you are making art that depends on proiprietary software to be appreciated, it is like what RMS used to call the Java trap...

We really rely on volunteer help. If you're doing something along these lines, we'd love to promote that as well.

Q - is there any reason to use Vista?

A - they do try to market DRM as a feature; if you want to have a 'next-generation content experience' you need to run Vista.

Q - what is the novelty in the DRM used in Vista? Maybe ther eare other mac usersw in the audience who don't know that.

A - they do a lot more signing of the driver,s controlling video output; there are more interfaces b/t the software and the hardware. This is why many peopl eneed to upgrade hardware to run Vista; they extend the scheme farther into hardware than it was before. The HD vid technologies also are enabled in Vista with restrictions (down to the hardware level).

Q - is the threat more related to software than hardware?

A - a peripherla designer who wants to make it for vista has to provide facility for intervfacing with vista, which poses a threat to fee software drivers... or they may be disqualified from the vista certification process.


Peter Brown, Defective By Design

I have some fun images of the campaigns from this past year. Some of you may have seen the DBD stickers.. we launched this in response to what we got from the first release of the GPLv3. Were alwasy trying to find ways to ensure free software stays free. It is designed to prevent proprietization of free software.

Therefore if after releasing GPLv3 someone came up with another way to limit free software, we would come out with GPLv4 or v3.1.

There was a lot of anger about DRM; if we could turn that into a more consumer perspective on DRM, it would help us ensure GPLv3 was created not only for the development community. There seemed to be a suggestion that we created gpl to empower development, to give them the keys to do with software what they wish but imprison users; and the FSF wants to give developers and businesses but also all computer users freedom; and the only way to do that was to guarantee it at that level.

The campaign was created with these concepts, as John mentioned -- activism around software, transferring it to a more general population. One of the key questions we were asking ourselves: could the more general poplation become social activists? My backgrond is social activism; I'm not a programmer, I've worked at other nonprofits doing social activist work. The question was, could technologists get off the couch and actually particpiate?

We launched an event at a windows dev conference in Seattle in 2006. We turned up in Hazmat suits... it's important that we do own the Itnernet; you are the internet; technologists tend to be the vocal ones; the issue around DRM ahs quickly beome a key Internet and blog issue. Traffic surrounding these topics is huge. As we later saw in the year, digg had this revolt around DRM. From the beginning, we launcehd DBD to have some sort of event every two weeks, to build up momentum for the idea that DRM is anti-consumer.

We targeted Apple because they were making DRM popular; the iPod and iTunes. It would seem as though this was the way we were going. A lot of pepole said 'they're not really bad... it's the fault of the media companies'. We've also been having this diuscussion naround corporations about that license. Disney wanted to get involved by pushing parties within the gplv3 process; as time went on, technology companies saw that technologists didn't want DRM, and their products were being seen as broken because of it.

Now Apple's committed to providing an online store with no DRM at all; when you have the largest onlin retailer saying this, you know there's no going back. But we still have groups clainming they are going to do this for video. So part of our aim is to now focus on that video site, to make sure you and your friends don't buy that DVD, don't use Blu-Ray, and don't download from iTunes. It is a consumer issue... and people just seem not to want to buy it.

We were just in the Boston Commons... the reason we care is that if DRM is out there, the film and music industry will not distributre for us, and adoption will not happen for the average computer user . B/c the average user wants to listen to their music and use their videos using free software. if MS and Apple can close us off b/c they don't support those platforms, free software won't take off.

There's a good reason to use Vista -- it's because everyone else is using Vista, and will use Vista at some point. So now's a key point to break [through?] that -- we are now talking to Dell and HP, trying to get them to produce hardware for us.

Mako Hill, Ubuntu/Freedom Defined

I'm Mako Hill, and I've been involved with the Free Software Community; and I think that a lot of the discussions here are about things that are being done in the free software community that could be done in the free culture community. It's not a coincidence they're both called... they both start with free, and both uses licenses that are similar. I can talk a bit about that.

Maybe the best way to talk about this is... I'll talk a bit about a project I've worked on, the Definition of Free Cultural Works - and hwy I think it addresses an important problem that comparing free software and free culture might lead us to.

I might star tiwht a discussion of what free culture is 0- this is something I've ythought about for a long time. It's clear what free software is. There's a Free Software Definition, you can look at it. (the right to use, modify, copy, and collaborate).

Defining free culture is harder.

...the free culture I defend in this book is a balance between anarchy and control. - Lessig, from Free Culture

Free culture insofar as CC is interested in it is, the freedom to choose how a work is licensed. You can choose to license a work in a way that might not allow too many freedoms at all, and many people do. Maybe a good way to contrast this is: in the free software movement... CC says "some rights reserved". FSF says "essential rights are unreservable. because if you take those rights away, people won't be free. It's maybe thinking a little bit about how this was able to happen. If you look at some of the places where groups like creative commons and many student free culture groups have said they were inspired by free software, I think therein lies the problem.

A lot of people in the FC movement and FS movement refer to the GPL as the constitution of the fs movement. It's a great license - used by 75% of all works under fre elicenses. But it's just ONE fre elicense. That's not what a constitution is. It isn't just a law, it is the law to which other laws are held up. And the FS movement has this - the FS definition (or related mods of that type of definition).; There is a standadr of freedom to which all are upheld.

There have been many licenses promoted by CC that a lot of people don't consider to be very free. People aren't challeneged to release their works very freely. The Developing Nations License... the fact that now licenses don't require that the entire work can be used in a non-commercial context (which used to be universal).

75% of people who use creative commons licenses use the two most restrictive licenses available. People invited to participate in the FC movement do it in ways that share the least amount of freedom possible. In the FS movement people are constantly being challenged to release things more freely. If you want to put your materials in sourceforge or svannah, you have to do it in certain terms. The result have been more freedom.

There used to be this thing called shareware 20 years ago; if you look at these packages now, there is a good chance they have been released as free software - under the GPL for that matter.