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Re: <nettime> a free letter to cultural institutions
Florian Cramer on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 03:17:19 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> a free letter to cultural institutions

> I'd be very interested to hear why a punk band wouldn't want to release
> music under a free license.

For example, because it doesn't want - for political reasons - its music to
end up on Spotify, Google or similar corporate services, against which free
licenses provide no means of intervention. Or because it wants to retain a
means of preventing that work is being politically misappropriated. For
example, if the punk band were the Dead Kennedys, and it would have
released "California Uber Alles" under a truly free license, it would have
no means to intervene if a Neonazi band performed the same song with no
irony intended.

The punk band example is relatively harmless. For software developers, any
kind of free license (free according to the criteria of FSF and Debian,
respectively Open Source according to the OSI criteria) gives no whatsoever
means to prevent that the software/the code is used for military purposes,
by secret services like the NSA (whose infrastructure is running on free
software to a large degree), or for the clouds of Facebook, Google &c., for
racial profiling and, in the most extreme case, genocide logistics. The
problem is that all these applications fall within the "freedom" of free
software, the right to use software "for any purpose", which ultimately
means freedom as in free market. There are many people in the hacker
community, such as Felix von Leitner from Chaos Computer Club (also
developer of dietlibc), who are now thinking critically about this aspect.

> > -, it would, under your model, be banned from all punk venues to
> > perform.
> Good.

That would fit hardcore punk and straight edge culture with their close
cultural and historical affinities to puritanism.

> This is a classic example of the kind of scarce, auratic merchandise
> that freely licensed non-scarce digital media and live performances
> can drive sales of (or see their costs offset by).
> The license on it can't make it any less desirable to anyone who isn't
> at the gig than it already is.
> It can however give it more of the iconoclastic attitude that will make
> it desirable to punks.

Your reaction exactly illustrates the problem: if "free culture" has boiled
down to licensing, it's merely a legal bureaucracy with little political
meaning. The very act of releasing something on small edition vinyl is a
statement that runs contrary to free culture as politics. As radical free
culture activists, the band would have to release its album as mp3s or oggs
and make them downloadable on their website, on an open wifi hotspot at the
concert venue, or on a terminal where people could copy the files on their
USB sticks.

In that sense, a site like Ubuweb is - in my opinion - closer to a free
culture spirit and politics (because it consists of work born out of
radical aesthetics of collage, appropriation, disruption and interrogation
of traditional musical, visual and textual forms) than most works that
nowadays bear a Creative Commons sticker.


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