FREE ?!

@ Het Nieuwe Instituut

25 Museumpark, 3015 CB Rotterdam, Netherlands

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Femke hosts a table on Free Culture Tools as part of the Free Culture Brunch Club at FREE ?!, a one-day journey into the culture of sharing.

If Free Culture is the use, sharing and reuse of digital artefacts in the context of the Internet, than Free Culture Tools should find themselves somewhere in the center of the debate. But between being a white elephant in the room or in the eye-of-the storm, they easily escape our attention. In theory, Free, Libre and Open Source software should allow artists and designers to appropriate their means of production. In practice, owning a workflow is easier said than done. The ecosystem of Free Culture Tools extends from software for creative work to publishing platforms, from hardware to standards. It is a vast area of expertise and includes many different stakeholders. Do F/LOSS tools produce Free Culture more easily than proprietary ones ? What if you produce an image in GIMP and publish it under a Free License on a commercial sharing site ? What productive relationships do we imagine between ’tools’ and ’culture’ ? And what about software as a service ? Starting from an inventory of ingredients that guests around the table consider relevant for a Free Culture workflow, we will map the problem areas and potentials for Free Culture Tools.

FREE ?! investigates one of the great paradoxes of our times : While the fast paced development of digital media and the Internet has made the sharing and reuse of cultural products, like movies, music, books as well as their tools of creation, extremely easy. Yet at the same time, this same technological development allows intellectual property law to increasingly enclose culture behind privileged walls, thus tightly controlling and policing its access. Meanwhile, the debate that opposes the rights of authors and file sharing has been stifled into a virtual trench warfare.

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