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Re: <nettime> a free letter to cultural institutions
Aymeric Mansoux on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 15:52:10 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> a free letter to cultural institutions

Florian Cramer said :

> > 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.

"No means" is a bit extreme here. A better way to describe this
situation is to say that there would be a risk. The impact of fair use,
withdrawal and moral rights in general, in the context of free cultural
production, is under researched and hard to predict due to the way such
rights would be dealt with in the jurisdiction(s) that would be
concerned in case of dispute.

However this touches to another issue of free culture licensing, that is
in case of abuse, the mechanism to enforce or challenge a particular
use, meaning going to tribunal and starting lawsuits, is prohibitively
expensive. It might work for the Dead Kennedys who are already
accustomed to such situations, including moral rights issues regarding
the use of their work, but is out of reach for the vast majority of
people distributing works under free culture licenses.

Nowadays, if dispute there is, public shaming via social media seems to
be the only alternative to this lack of access to enforcing legal
rights, as shown with regular David vs. Goliath stories on copyright
related matters. 

> 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.

Yes, there have been cases that drove away some artists from
free culture licenses. For instance noise musician and software
programmer Yves Degoyon moved away from free culture licenses after
being, one would say, almost bullied, regarding the fact that he was
opposing the use of his software for military and torture purposes, yet
was distributing the latter with the GPL. As a result, he stopped
distributing the software with a free software license and eventually
wrote his own, non-free license. This was also addressed in the eGPL
project, ethical or exception GPL, that aimed to bring awareness of such
problems. The copyfarleft principle of the PPL also obviously belongs to
this attempt to redefine freedom so that it matches more closely a
specific belief or political position as opposed to the all encompassing
freedom of free culture licenses.

Free culture proposes an egalitarian generalisation and simplification
of the transformation and distribution of cultural expressions,
regardless of their nature. It is a one-size-fits-all offer and it is
bound to create tensions and conflicts precisely because of that.


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