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  • From: "Erik Moeller" <eloquence AT>
  • To: "Discussion on the Creative Commons license drafts" <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: [cc-licenses] A Free Content and Expression Definition
  • Date: Mon, 1 May 2006 17:35:33 +0200

The free culture movement is growing. Hackers have created a
completely free operating system called GNU/Linux that can be used and
shared by anyone for any purpose. A community of volunteers has built
the largest encyclopedia in history, Wikipedia, which is used by more
people every day than or Thousands of individuals
have chosen to upload photos to under free licenses. But -
just a minute. What exactly is a "free license"?

In the free software world, the two primary definitions - the Free
Software Definition and the Open Source Definition - are both fairly
clear about what uses must be allowed. Free software can be freely
copied, modified, modified and copied, sold, taken apart and put back
together. However, no similar standard exists in the sphere of free
content and free expressions.

We believe that the highest standard of freedom should be sought for
as many works as possible. And we seek to define this standard of
freedom clearly. We call this definition the "Free Content and
Expression Definition", and we call works which are covered by this
definition "free content" or "free expressions".

Neither these names nor the text of the definition itself are final
yet. In the spirit of free and open collaboration, we invite your
feedback and changes. The definition is published in a wiki. You can
find it at: or

Please use the URL <> (including the
trailing slash) when submitting this link to high-traffic websites.

There is a stable and an unstable version of the definition. The
stable version is protected, while the unstable one may be edited by
anyone. Be bold and make changes to the unstable version, or make
suggestions on the discussion page. Over time, we hope to reach a
consensus. Four moderators will be assisting this process:

* Erik Möller - co-initiator of the definition. Free software
developer, author and long time Wikimedian, where he initiated two
projects: Wikinews and the Wikimedia Commons.
* Benjamin Mako Hill - co-initiator of the definition. Debian hacker
and author of the Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible, board member of Software
in the Public Interest, Software Freedom International, and the Ubuntu
* Mia Garlick. General Counsel at Creative Commons, and an expert on
IP law. Creative Commons is, of course, the project which offers many
easy-to-use licenses to authors and artists, some of which are free
content licenses and some of which are not.
* Angela Beesley. One of the two elected trustees of the Wikimedia
Foundation. Co-founder and Vice President of Wikia, Inc.

None of the moderators is acting here in an official capacity related
to their affiliations. Please treat their comments as personal opinion
unless otherwise noted. The Creative Commons project has welcomed the
effort to clearly classify existing groups of licenses, and will work
to supplement this definition with one which covers a larger class of
licenses and works.

In addition to changes to the definition itself, we invite you to
submit logos that can be attached to works or licenses which are free
under this definition:

One note on the choice of name. Not all people will be happy to label
their works "content", as it is also a term that is heavily used in
commerce. This is why the initiators of the definition compromised on
the name "Free Content and Expression Definition" for the definition
itself. We are suggesting "Free Expression" as an alternative term
that may lend itself particularly to usage in the context of artistic
works. However, we remain open on discussing the issue of naming, and
invite your feedback in this regard.

We encourage you to join the open editing phase, to take part in the
logo contest, or to provide feedback. We aim to release a 1.0 version
of this definition fairly soon.

Please forward this announcement to other relevant message boards and
mailing lists.

Thanks for your time,

Erik Möller and Benjamin Mako Hill

  • [cc-licenses] A Free Content and Expression Definition, Erik Moeller, 05/01/2006

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