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The Free Media Project

By DontTreadOnMe in Media
Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 01:24:21 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I am currently working on the Free Media Project, an effort to facilitate artists in licensing their work under a GPL-like Free Media License. The first work being so licensed is my ongoing movie script and Novel Autonomy (currently in a very rough 1st draft form).


The Free Media Project is an attempt to apply the concepts of free software to other forms of media. It is my belief that it is wrong and harmful for our popular culture to be privately owned and in many respects held hostage to the business interests of a few large media corporations, and that the quality and diversity of our popular culture, be it music, theater, movies, novels, or any other form of entertainment, can be greatly enriched if people are allowed to freely contribute to and borrow from the works of others.

For this reason, I've written a Free Media License which has borrowed heavilly from the GNU Public License, the GNU Free Documentation License, and incorporated some ideas of my own. Its purpose is to insure the continued freedom of any material contribed to or derived from a Free Media project, as well as protect the integrity of the artist's original work and reputation by both assuring that they are properly given credit for their contribution and that they are not credited with the work of others which might diminish their own public perception. A rather sordid example of how the license is intended to protect the artist's professional integrity no matter how their material is used by another: let's say footage were to be taken from a family film created by artist A and released under the Free Media License, and then incorporated into a horror film by artist B. Artist A should be acknowledged for their work, but as important (and perhaps more so) artist B should take responsibility for any changes or additions they have made and, furthermore, make it crystal clear to any viewers that artist A had nothing to do with the graphic content in artist B's films and that, furthermore, artist A in no way approved of or endorsed artist B's use of his or her material, and that such use was made without artist A's permission but nevertheless legally and in accordance with the terms of the Free Media License.

In this way our culture is enriched by both projects and the artists are free to make use of one anothers works as they see fit (with appropriate credit given), while the reputation of neither artist is sullied by the work of the other with whome they may have philisophical or artistic differences.

Because I am a firm believer of putting one's money where one's mouth is, I am releasing an ongoing project of my own under the Free Media License, and invite others to contribute, make use of, or do whatever they like with the material so released, so long as the conditions of the Free Media License are adhered to. In addition, I invite any criticisms and suggestions for improvements to the Free Media License itself.

Finally, my project is not the only project seeking to remedy (through innovative licensing) the current stifling of popular culture. Other efforts in this regard include:

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Poll
The Free Media Project
o is a great idea 37%
o is a great idea, but needs work 40%
o I prefer another License to the Free Media License 0%
o I couldn't care less 17%
o I disagree with the entire concept 4%
o The MPAA/RIAA should be the one writing our licenses 0%

Votes: 45
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Free Media Project
o Free Media License
o Autonomy
o held hostage
o project
o Free Media License [2]
o Beckman Center
o Open Content License
o Internet Public Media Project
o Copyright Commons
o Counter Copyright
o Also by DontTreadOnMe


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The Free Media Project | 5 comments (4 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Other similar ideas (4.00 / 1) (#1)
by madams on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 01:09:38 PM EST

Your idea would go really well with Buskware. Maybe, one day, everything will be free. Isn't that the best human endeavor can do?

--
Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

Good (tm) (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by r0cket on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 01:18:10 PM EST

I think this is an excellent idea and is yet another indication of the enormous impact the Information Age will have on our lives. I think licences like this one are an indication that the internet can have a much more profound effect on the real world than many poeple imagine. It is only when ideas that originate in cyberspace are translated into meatspace that we will begin to see the full impact the internet will have n our lives. The best things about the internet aren't e-business and MP3s, the best things are the ways the internet gives us to communicate and form communities out of which grow ideas that could never have taken root in the real world.

I think the GPL is... (none / 0) (#4)
by Wah on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 03:43:42 PM EST

...the wrong way to go.

Media is simply not as derivative as code is. It is used more inpiration than actual foundation for future works. Or maybe I'm drawing to fine a line. And I don't see any real way for the creators of a work to recieve any advantage in recouping investment. Is there any benefit other that the virus?
--
Fail to Obey?
My thouts on the GPL approach and why I chose it (none / 0) (#5)
by DontTreadOnMe on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 12:41:18 PM EST

Media can be as derivative as code is, even more so. The reason it is not in our society is because the rights are so tightly locked up, to the point where fans have been forced to take down web pages about an artist, tv show, or movie they like, or have been sued for creating "fan fiction" (which by definition is a derivative work), and so on.

Indeed visual and audio media in many ways lends itself as much or more to "code reuse" than software. Consider the sampling done in Rap music, the incorporation of clips of older films in newer films, the creation of movies based on television series and television series based upon movies, movies based upon cartoons, cartoons based upon movies, and so on. Consider special effects such as the ocean scenes in titanic. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to reuse the code, or even the footage, for other films which require panoramic ocean views (with perhaps a different ship superimposed, or colors changed to show a sea benath an alien sky of another color) without having to recreate the entire effect from scratch?

The practice of locking down media and killing any unauthorized derivative works (which often translates to killing any and all derivative works) impoverishes us as a culture and a society. We have as a result less art, less entertainment, less cross polination of ideas. Worse, every film maker is forced to "reinvent the wheel" (e.g. create all special effects from scratch for each film, etc.) for each project, leading to greater costs, slower release schedules, etc.

A GPL approach is not the ONLY way to go, but it is ONE very GOOD way to go, and the method by which I prefer to license my work.

Why? I am willing to give away my work, for free, for anyone to use (college student or Hollywood mogul alike). However, I insist that any derivative works allow others the same artistic freedoms I have given. I want to enrich the public commons of popular culture and material, and if I allow another to lock up my work in another project I fail to do this. Worse, by allowing, say, Disney to make a movie based upon my work and release it in the traditioal, restricted manner I may well have made it impossible for some else to make a competing movie based upon my work. Indeed, if I wanted to shoot my own movie I could find myself getting sued by Disney for using the same title or the same story, EVEN THOUGH I WROTE IT! FreeBSD style licensing would not protect me from this, nor would it protect others. The GPL-like provisions are necessary, as they preserve this artistic freedom in derivative works, such that if a Disney were to use my work, they could not turn around and sue someone else for making a competing work, or even reusing some of their own footage.

I do not want some college student being sued for copying a film derived from a work I gave away, or worse spending time in jail.

More importantly, I do not want to see my work locked up by another organization, so that a third or fourth party who wishes to make a film, perhaps derived from another film already made based on my work, is prevented from doing so.

I wish to enrich our entire culture and allow others to build upon my ideas and my work, pilfer it for material to their hearts content, and reuse it. All I ask is that they allow others the same privelege.

With the Free Media License's GPL-like qualities this situation cannot arise, and artistic freedom is preserved from generation to generation, such that a derivative product based on a film, stage play, or whatever 15 generations removed from my material remains as free as the original work, providing a wealth of material for others to mine, enhance, or otherwise make use of. Without the GPL-style provisions of the license this would not be the case, and the public commons of material that all are able to use and build upon would be correspondingly impoverished.

Of course, the fact that my work is released under the Free Media License does not prevent you or someone else from releasing their work under a FreeBSD style license, or even into the public domain. Indeed, many chose this approach, and that is there right. However, such an approach offers no protection against a Disney or Time-Warner from taking their work and locking it up into one of their projects later.

I won't get into a GPL vs. BSD flame war with you -- both approaches have proven to be successful and to have their place in the Free Software world and, I suspect, both approaches will also prove successful in the creation of other artistic expressions, and that the choice of licenses will ultimately depend on each artist's values and goals, both as a whole and with respect to the specific project they are licensing.
--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
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The Free Media Project | 5 comments (4 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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