The political implications of free culture

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Author: GISS TV

Speaker: Felix Stalder




Notes taken during the presentation at the FCForum, in Barcelona,

Free culture must be defined in a broader sense than CC.

3 core components: Free Software, semiotic democracy, access to knowledge.

  • Free Software: access to the controlling layer of the infrastructure, ie. Internet
  • Semiotic democracy: enlarging the number of people speaking in public. It is not only legal, but also education: free culture doesn't make sense in a private university.
  • Access to knowledge means access to knowledge-intensive products like medicines and drugs.

Informational freedom is a precondition for social freedom

Attempt to reduce power resting in the knowledge monopoly we need an institutional ecology: structured volunteered communities: not gangs or clubs. Because unstructured communities are bad in the distribution of money. Free Software projects are competitive and brutal, but clear in the way they function. It is unfortunately a poor way of organizing.

We need to find money for long term financing in free culture (easy for software, difficult for culture)

Comparison between Free Culture projects and Web 2.0

Web 2.0 focus on consumer convenience. Interesting because more people are able to use communication technologies but has consequences: you have to accept changing terms of service that protects the owner of the platform and not the user.

Users are presented with a preset of choices; not able to change them but to chose among different flavours. Users do not have rights, they are granted priviledges that can be revoked any time. Increasing difference between the use of the front end (cc friendly, …) and the back end (closed source, centralised)

Reduction of diversity, users are concentrated on a few platforms

Rebirth of media corporations, even old corporations buying new platforms: Murdoch buying MySpace. Increase of power based on information monopoly: these platforms give real time information on the composition of society

New forms of reappropriation

Mass deception (school of Frankfurt), simulation of freedom, participation as a spectacle

If we leave participation to the market, we have web 2.0. To counter this, licenses are not enough.

In culture the problem is that you cannot re-implement a film like Open Office reimplements a free version of MS Word. Therefore, we need to legalize P2P in a way or another and to legalize remixing (add cultural exception), otherwise we will not have a free culture. We need access to back end data.

Q: scarcity is not an issue anymore ... A: There is a lot of scarcity: a scarcity of provision. How to create the first copy? The film that will be later remixed and commented?


some creative commons license, not clear which one.

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