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This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2006 (Index of presentations)

Toward a Definition of Freedom

Author Benjamin Mako Hill
Track Free Knowledge & Access to Information
License GNU Free Documentation License (details), Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (details)
About the author
Benjamin Mako Hill is a technology and intellectual property researcher, activist, and consultant. He is currently working full time on research into asynchronous collaboration technologies as a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Laboratory in the Electronic Publishing Group. He has been an leader, developer, and contributor to the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community for more than a decade as part of the Debian and Ubuntu projects.
The free knowledge, access to information, and free culture projects are frequently compared to the free and open source movements. Both groups share a similar critique of intellectual property, a similar goal of more freedom and access to information and a similar set of legal instruments (i.e., licenses) through which they attempt to achieve these goals.

However, through its emphasis on licenses and legal, many in the free knowledge community have neglected the fact that it is not Richard Stallman's famous GNU General Public License that forms, "the constitution of the free software movement," but rather his Free Software Definition (FSD). While the free knowledge movement, and Creative Commons in particular, calls for "some rights reserved," the FSD defined free software as software that respects the four essential and unreservable freedoms to use, modify, share, and collaborate without restrictions.

To date, there exists no similar definition of freedom at the core of any free content or free expression movement. On May 1st, the authors of this paper and others in the free information community (including Lawrence Lessig and Richard Stallman) invited the Wikipedia community and rest of the free knowledge world to collaborate -- through a wiki -- to draft a Free Content and Expression Definition that aims to form the core of a new freedom movement. This presentation will argue for the need and justification of such a document, present and justify a text, and describe the process and future of such a definition.

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