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Re: <nettime> a free letter to cultural institutions
"ÃzgÃr k." on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 01:18:07 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> a free letter to cultural institutions


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dear nettimers,

thanks to olivier, jaromil and marc for responding to this so qucikly,
which encourages me to elaborate on the issue more.

i find free art license of the copyleft attiude very important since
it is (AFAIK) the first and consistent implementation of the free
software ideas to the field of culture. however it has been rendered
invisible by the neo-liberal politics of creative commons(cc) creating
a simulacr of free culture with non-commercial(nc) and
non-derivative(nd) licenses. i will not go into the detail here but i
have been experiencing the confusion cc created among people about the
free culture in all my discussions. so thanks for referring to free
art license, the politics of which is the one i appreciate most among
the "legal" free culture licenses also listed in freedomdefined.org.
even though the politics i appreciate the most is the libre commons of
libre society, which is not based on law but ethical values.

i have a personal experience with the work of furtherfield that showed
me how valuable the support of such an institution is as a bonus
encouragement for someone working on fc. i will not share it here but
would like to take this opportunity to marc garret for their work and
politics at furtherfield.

i totally share jaromil's points, whose works and politics i also
adore, and i think the problem with the common practice like you and
all of us who share similar world views and trying to make a living in
harmony with those views have been experiencing is because of the
perception/not perception of free culture by those who are not
familiar with it. and in the context of this post, those who are
addressed here are the decision makers in cultural institutions who
are not familiar with/not interested in the politics and ethics of
free culture.

unlike many people, i believe everybody in this list knows that free
refers to freedom here, not the price, referring to the free software
definition. i believe that free/libre culture (fc) promises the
possibility of an alternative economics based on free/libre donation.*

for example if there are two books i am interested in; one is a free
cultural work and the other is non-free cultural one asking me to pay
a predetermined price to read it while not even giving me the freedom
to build on it, i choose the fc work but i also donate the author of
it by hearth, double the price i would pay for the proprietary one.
not because i am rich, but because i share the ethics of fc and
respect the author of the fc work more. so i choose to spend willing
on 1 fc work instead of paying doubtfully/unwillingly for 2 non-fc
work. if i can do/afford this, a cultural institution would also, if
they are aware and share the philosophy of fc.

it is unfortunately true that most people working for/with cultural
institutions are precarious. while spending great amounts of their
funds to publicity etc, many cultural institutions employ interns
without paying them, artists (no matter their work is fc or not) are
not always paid etc... even though those institutions are part of the
culture industry, i do not believe in that all the directors of these
institutions share the ethics of profit driven capitalists. if they
have funding for 2 works, they would choose to fund 1 fc work instead
of 2 non-fc work, if they are aware and share the politics of fc. if i
can do it, they can also do it.. if they are aware and share the
politics of fc.

new models can be developed; for example they can start with founding
a free culture branch along with their existing infrastructure. in
this branch, they would only fund/exhibit/distribute/promote fc works
and donate the author at least (better double:)) what they pay for
other artists.

if they really want to show a work from an artist whose practice is
non-fc, then they would negotiate to show it only if the artist
licenses the work with a fc license (preferably donating them less
than what they would donate to a fc artist:)). there are many artists
who would be ok with this if they want to take a chance to work with
that institution. would this also cause another precarious situation
for the artist? if it does not for a free culture artist, then it
wouldn't for them either. the point is, some intuitions are really
powerful and they would use their power in favour of free culture
instead of culture industry. not directly translatable to this
situation, but richard stallman, the founder of free software movement
explains the relation between power and freedom in the copyleft
attitude here: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/freedom-or-power.html
this is just a small detail about the philosophy of free software but
my experience shows me that, to understand fc, one should first
understand the free software philosophy in detail. then these ideas
can be translated into culture and i hope eventually they would
inspire our socio-economical life in general..(if you appreciate what
stallman writes, which is under a free culture license, you may
consider donating to fsf:))
https://crm.fsf.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=14


a third situation is, if the institution would really really really
want to show a non-fc work since they think it is culturally very
important work and everyone (everyone is, everyone as an artist:))
should be encouraged to build on it, they would even make the economic
negotiations with the artist to acquire the work by licensing it with
a fc license. for example buying all editions of that work by covering
artist's all future economic expectations from it. but if you share
the (at least my:)) ethics of free culture, then you wouldn't "pay"
this artist more than you would donate to a fc artist. no? so? if all
the funds of an institution goes to this non-fc artist, without
leaving a space for fc artists, who should be ashamed? what should be
done? in fact this situation demonstrates a part of the current
problem regarding to the cultural institutions.

in fact before the role of the cultural institutions, fc is the
responsibility of the artists. we cannot blame walter benjamin for not
publishing his essay on the political promises of the availability of
mechanical reproduction of artworks for being have to cooperate with
what adorno&horkheimer later conceptualized as the "culture industry",
which required it to be copyrighted, to make the wide reproduction and
distribution of that text possible. but we can (and also should)
question someone talking about similar ideas like benjamin today but
producing non-fc works. culture industry for the communication of
cultural works to wider audience was the issue before the
possibilities of information technologies which now renders useless
the intermediation of culture industry for a work that can be produced
and multiplicated/distributed as free/libre digital information in a
p2p way.**

so, the artists don't to play with the rules of the culture industry
anymore to communicate their works, if they have a problem with
culture industry: the culture being an industry operation according to
the capitalist mode of production). the institutions which are ok with
the cultural industry and would like to continue to be a part of it
are out of the target of this post. sorry for taking time of the
decision makers of those institutions. but if the perspective of your
institution is to be a "progressive" one, and one of your concerns is
the culture industry and proprietary/permission/fan culture, and even
though you are already doing some works on these issues, i would also
ask you to consider the call on this free letter.

with my respect to cultural institutions which are already operating
with a free culture perspective.


- -
*i also feel an urgency to discuss the politics of the donation. with
donation i do not refer to the charity practice, if we take it as the
powerful helping the needy, but a non-hierarchical, even
non-reciprocal, even anonymous giving practice which is a sign of
appreciation. letting the authors know that there is someone who
appreciates their work, even if they do not know who, even if that
donation wouldn't be enough to cover their living. i also find micro
funding practice, which would benefit from the long tail, important,
but micro donations require a mechanism to minimize transaction costs,
like that of flattr. or the digital currencies are promising, like the
first phase of bitcoin along with its anonymizing capabilities. the
hype of the so called crowdfunding requires discussing the politic of
donation. why do people fund a work with a non-fc license, where they
wouldn't have crucial freedoms on the resulting work? as the idea of
crowdsourcing depoliticized the commons-based peer production, the
idea of crowdfunding depoliticized the idea of what i would like to
call peer-funding. not public, nor private funding. peer-funding where
the peers who appreciate the idea do fund by donations and where the
resulting work would be a free cultural work for everybody, who would
find to show the way of their appreciation to the author and initial
peer-funders later on.

**when the information became communicateble independent of physical
means for the first time in history in the form of the software,
hackers very among the first who realized, another mode of production
than the capitalist and even all previous existing ones, was possible.
i prefer calling this peer production as conceptualized by michel
bauwens. neither private, nor public and also not commons, which
originally referred not to something produced by human against nature,
but to refer to naturally available resources. calling it
commons-based peer production is ok to make an anology for those who
are not familiar with the nature of possibilities which were implied
to be "impossible" since last 30 years. but these new possibilities
require new vocabulary and concepts to discuss, like in the example of
p2p. p2p renders a new form of gift economy, what derrida
deconstructed as "the impoosible", possible. shortly, p2p is a social
contract as highlighted by marcel mauss for the gift concept. there is
a conciousness of giving and taking but there is no personal
obligation to reciprocate. you are anonymous if you reciprocate, but
you still do. this is the possibility, even the practice, of the pure
gift today, even though derrida deconstructed it as "the impossible"
for that time. but he might have still put it that way today unless he
is aware of the practice and politics of p2p, i believe.





On 06/11/2014 12:38 PM, Jaromil wrote:
> 
> dear Ozgur,
> 
> On Tue, 10 Jun 2014, ozgur k. wrote:
> 
>> a free letter to cultural institutions,
>> 
>> please do not fund/exhibit/distribute/promote any non-free
>> cultural works.(see freedomdefined.org for the definition of free
>> cultural works)
>> 
>> please approach your audience as peers and give them the freedom
>> to build on what you make them experience.
>> 
>> please mediate building a free/libre culture where everyone is
>> an artist. do not promote proprietary/permission/fan culture.
>> 
>> 
>> http://httpdot.net/txt/AFreeLetterToCulturalInstitutions.txt
> 
> This is a very good mission and focus. I've been (almost
> literally) preaching this to public institutions in EU (cultural
> sector) and also NGOs (snake pits) for the past 15 years of my
> life. As a result: I've been included inside these very
> institutions (mostly at an inferior payroll because "free
> culture"...) and ultimately flushed by financial cuts after
> devoting more than a young decade of my life to them.
> 
> Such institutions need to be able to move on to "the next topic",
> being their final goal that of catering the masses, which justifies
> most means to reach them with the help of some irony and tapestry.
> After all, most people on earth are made consumers: they don't care
> if they can study re-use re-adapt re-distribute something - and the
> demand public sector faces is not exempt by this logic, not even
> academy is. Paradoxically, the best people to support "free
> culture" are the very private companies that can re-use the
> results, yet their tax money can't be directly related to free
> culture policies.
> 
> Today I'm not so faithful anymore that is really possible to
> change existing public institutions to make the principles of "free
> culture" as part of their constituency, no matter how rational that
> is. You can lobby for it, sure, but that's part of the game and
> your higher selfless goals will consume you in there. Maybe we
> really need "new institutions based on new forms of rationality".
> And while waiting for an API for that :^) "free culture" has been
> best cultivated in those private sector initiatives that have used
> it also to their own advantage (mostly predating it) and creating
> new forms of capitalism in which the very act of re-sharing is
> itself an asset.
> 
> By criticising specifically the latter as "free culture" I believe
> Geert Loving misses the point. Yet this is the most visible outcome
> of it, while public institutions are weaker and weaker and they are
> made to serve the private interest rather than the public.
> 
> My recommendation is to "play free" :^) and look for and help
> create new alliances (subjectivity, constituencies) that can
> operate in a transversal way across contexts and most importantly
> can vehicule the potential of free culture to the masses (tools,
> not just ideals, and direct access): the masses will eventually
> read the manual and know what to do with it.
> 
> ciao
> 
> p.s. speaking of which, this is what I'm left with these days: 
> http://dyne.org/chest rate up those project if you can, that will
> help the cause :^) pity the website registration is all borked and
> the login with facebook app will access all your contact lists.
> kind of weird for a public sector initiative isn't it?
> 

- -- 
ÃzgÃr k.
gpg:A3E6 57AD E14D 1F66 A546 6101 BA42 0724 E750 C5AE
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