| The opposite of “free culture” is “permission culture”, which you probably don’t need to have explained in detail because you’re familiar with it already.  In the permission culture, if I write a book and you want to translate it, you have to get my permission first (or, more likely, the permission of my publisher).  Similarly, if I wrote a song and you want to use it in your movie, you have to go through a series of steps to get clear permission to do so.  Our laws are written such that permission culture is currently the default.

In free culture, you just translate the book, use the song, etc.  If I don’t like the translation or the film, I’m free to say so, of course, but I wouldn’t have any power to suppress or alter your works.  Of course, free culture goes both ways: I’m also free to put out a modified copy of your movie using a different song, recommend someone else’s translation that I think is better, etc.  These are idealized examples, for the sake of illustration, but they give the general idea: freedom takes precedence over commercial monopolies.

There is plenty of free culture out there already.  In the past all culture was free culture; in today’s legal environment, the way people create free culture is to put their work out under a free license — a special copyright license that explicitly allows most of the activities that standard copyrights prohibit.  Free culture means you can perform it, record it, distribute it, use it in your own works, and anything else.  It does not mean you can claim credit for things you didn’t do; that would just be fraud or plagiarism (fortunately, it turns out that allowing works to spread freely is the best way to prevent plagiarism anyway).

Free culture artists make money too.  Mostly they do so in the same ways artists always have: direct audience support, commissions, patronage, government and academic support, etc.  (Copyright-controlled distribution has never been a major source of funding for art, and wasn’t designed to be.)  Free culture artists make a point of working with their audiences instead of against them.  They inhabit the Internet as natives, instead of stumbling around in awkward space-suits made of contracts and copyrights and permission forms whose real purpose is to cause enough friction that a corporation has to be paid off to reduce it. Read Entire Article

By kfogel