The Free Culture Trust project aims to create a land trust model for artists leaving a legacy of freely-licensed works, either during their lifetimes or afterwards. It is an informal collaboration of Question Copyright, Creative Commons and Free Culture Foundations folks, and Wikimedians.
What Is It?
The Free Culture Trust's mission is to help artists make their works available to the public for free sharing, reuse, derivation, and remix. It provides an easy way for artists to "opt out" of restrictive copyright, by simply assigning their copyrights (or the relevant rights therein) to the FCT, which then uses those rights to encourage sharing rather than restrict it. The Free Culture Trust will strive to undertake activities to forward this mission, including:
- Receive and hold copyrights from artists who want assurance of continued public access to their works
- Help ensure that works remain perpetually available through free licensing (including updating licenses as needed), or through permanent public domain status, depending on the author's preference
- Encourage accurate attribution and accurate representation of both freely-licensed and public domain works within FCT stewardship
- Help ensure that share-alike requirements for derivative works are met
- Protect works against censorship and copyfraud (e.g., mistaken YouTube takedowns and other retroactive restrictions both malicious and accidental)
- Provide a registry of FCT-protected works so the public (including producers of derivative works) can be assured of a work's unrestricted status
The Free Culture Trust will continually look for new ways to enhance the relationship between artists and audiences, including making free works more available and finding ways to support creators.
Why Is It Necessary?
We hear from many artists that they are interested in exploring free licensing, or in some cases already decided on it, but the bureaucracy and general hassle associated with actually licensing a work are prohibitive. Artists have questions about which free license to use, or how to put a work in the public domain, and even after they figure that out they still don't know how to apply that license or PD dedication in a legally clear way. They often do not have the time nor resources to deal with issues like copyfraud-based takedowns (which are surprisingly common, especially on large video sharing sites), failures in attribution, etc. The FCT can specialize in these issues so artists don't have to, and by benefiting from economies of scale the FCT can do them more efficiently than individual artists could anyway. The FCT can also provide institutional support for freedom-minded artists negotiating with publishers or other distribution channels, helping somewhat to reduce the asymmetry inherent in such situations.
- Accurate attribution can be encouraged and socially enforced even for public domain works. Using a CC BY or CC BY-SA license provides a legal tool for encouraging accurate attribution, but even without such a tool there are many ways to accomplish the same goal. Similarly with technological restriction measures: a public domain work is still subject to DRM in a given distribution channel, and there is no license-based protection from that, but there may still be means of discouraging DRM (perhaps by responding to DRM by providing non-DRM-restricted means of accessing the work, on an as-needed basis).
- We've discussed FCT assisting artists with "time-delay" free licensing, e.g., providing standard contract language for authors negotiating with publishers, etc. Should we mention that explicitly above, or is that too much implementation detail to go in a mission statement?
- Although FCT is not trying to be the physical repository for the works -- that's what the Internet Archive is for -- there is one bit of property that the FCT might be the appropriate place to hold: Internet domains associated with the work. Should FCT help ensure the persistence of such domains?
- "freeculturetrust" mailing list - join to discuss progress and be notified of calls
- Free Culture Trust call - semi-regular call to plan and progress the project
- Freeculturetrust.org - started by Questioncopyright folks, stalled due to resources/time
- Pledge Form by QuestionCopyright included: Artist Name; Artist Contact (email, phone); Works they might be interested in donating (or ALL)
- Digital Self Preservation Toolkit - mocked up by volunteers at Mozfest 2013
Potential model licenses
Potential approaches/areas of focus
- transport notes from first call