We get a lot of e-mail with questions that are generally a result of misconceptions and a lack of awareness of the issues that FreeCulture.org and Free Culture groups were designed to respond to. We want to take those questions head-on and have something to point people to when they bring up these questions.
- 1 About Us
- 1.1 What is FreeCulture.org?
- 1.2 What is free culture?
- 1.3 What do you do?
- 1.4 How are you organized?
- 1.5 What is the history of FC.o?
- 1.6 What is your partisan bent?
- 1.7 What is your relationship with other groups?
- 1.8 Who pays for this?
- 1.9 Are you a non-profit?
- 1.10 How can I start a group at my school?
- 1.11 Beliefs
- 1.12 How can I help?
- 2 Misconceptions and Myths
Some of this information needs to go on a separate About page. In fact, I think we should stick to fixing misconceptions in the FAQ, and put most of this on the About page.
What is FreeCulture.org?
- "students and supporters"
- mostly college/university students, some high school & non-students
- not for profit
- community solutions
- not communists (how do we say this? "pro-free market"? "pro-capitalism"?)
- not radicals
- not just nerds: nerds, artists, political types, etc.
- relationship between FC groups, FC.o
What is free culture?
- Lessig's Free Culture
What do you do?
How are you organized?
- Core Team
- other teams
- Executive Director
- Local groups
What is the history of FC.o?
What is your partisan bent?
FreeCulture.org is a non-partisan group. We are not officially affiliated with any political party. Our members are Republicans as well as Democrats, Libertarians as well as independents.
What is your relationship with other groups?
FreeCulture.org is not officially affiliated with any other organization. Groups we have worked with in the past include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Creative Commons, and Downhill Battle.
Who pays for this?
Our Web hosting is provided by X. The costs for our campaigns are paid for out of our own pockets as individuals or raised by seeking donations. [Say something about accepting donations / grants? ]
Are you a non-profit?
FreeCulture.org is not a for-profit organization, but we have not [yet?] incorporated as a non-profit. Donations made to FC.o are not currently tax-deductible.
How can I start a group at my school?
- What do FC groups / FC.o believe? or What do FC.o members believe?
- What do I need to believe to be a member? or What are the official positions on certain topics, so I can see whether I agree with you?
- How dogmatic are you?
How can I help?
- mailing lists & blog
- join a team
- join or start a group at your school
- ideas & comments
Misconceptions and Myths
- Isn't this just communism repackaged?
- You want to eliminate copyright altogether.
- FreeCulture.org supports and advocates for reasonable and balanced copyright law. We believe that artists and authors should be fairly recognized and compensated for their work.
- We believe copyright is good to the extent that it encourages the creation and diffusion of new works. But to the extent that copyright law constricts the creation and diffusion of new works, we believe it can be improved upon.
- PK says: Public Knowledge is not against copyright. We are for a shorter copyright term, for a length of time that better balances the public interest with the exclusive rights of the creator.
No money for artists
- You want artists to work for free?
- No. Free culture does not mean unpaid culture, or "artists must starve." As Richard Stallman puts it, we mean "free as in freedom, not as in beer." Think free speech, or free markets, not "give your stuff away for free and live like a monk." Thousands of people (and more every day) are getting paid to work on free software, whether through personal donations (as Bram Cohen, the author of BitTorrent does), non-profits like the Mozilla Foundation, or companies like IBM. You can make information and art freely available and still sell accompanying goods and services. Musicians like Jim's Big Ego (who released their last album "They're Everywhere" under a Creative Commons license) and authors like Cory Doctorow have recognized this, and do quite well for themselves.
- Why can't I copyright my work? I still want to get paid.
- Today's copyright term is necessary to encourage artists to create.
- Holding copyright on a work that you've created may encourage you to create, but you can't create after you're dead. Copyright in the United States is now life of the author plus 70 years. This means that a lot of work ends up in the hands of souless corporations or estates that enforce the author's copyrights in ways that the author would not have approved of. See the "This Land is Your Land" parody case, JibJab v. Ludlow, in which the copyright holder acted quite contrary to the spirit of its original author, the late Woody Guthrie. Guthrie once wrote: "This song is copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."
- My copyright is my property; I should have it forever.
- Some of the best and industry-standard software is proprietary. What's so special about free software?
- How can I trust something that's free?
- Why would someone give away their work? (How do programmers get paid?)
- Proprietary program X (e.g. Internet Explorer) is free. Why shouldn't I use that?
- Can't someone just put their name on it and sell it as theirs?
- Why would someone give away their work? (How do creators get paid?)
- Why do you defend pirates who steal from artists?
- There's no legitimate purpose for peer-to-peer filesharing.
- "Aren't peer-to-peer (P2P) networks only good for illegally downloading popular music and movies?"
Like any Internet protocol -- for instance, the web or e-mail -- P2P networks can be used for both legal and illegal uses. Legal uses of P2P networks include the distribution of works that are in the public domain (e.g., congressional hearings) or are Creative Commons licensed (e.g., zombie remixes). MORE
"Yeah, but if we outlaw P2P networks, people will still be able to share public domain stuff over the web."
But P2P networks are unique in that they virtually eliminate the cost of distribution. And while it doesn't cost much to serve your personal thoughts on your blog, it can be quite expensive to share your personal videos and audio recordings over the web. Technologies like BitTorrent allow supply to scale with demand, so that the burden of distribution is spread out among all those downloading the file. This means it is now possible for anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection to distribute Podcasts and home videos and amateur documentaries at zero cost. In this way P2P provides an outlet for speech that might otherwise not be heard.
- Filesharing causes decreased record sales.
- Filesharing is used for child pornography / other obscenity.
- Is it really creativity if you're just remixing what already exists? Can't you do this with fair use already?
- The public domain is already pretty big. Why does it need to grow?