What is free culture?

Free culture is a socio-cultural movement.

The idea is explained in the book, 'Free Culture - The Nature and Future of Creativity,' by Lawrence Lessig, professor at Stanford Law School.

It is about having the freedom to create, modify and distribute works, aided by new technologies, especially the Internet.

It stands opposed to "permission culture" where copyright restricts various - the movement would say essential - uses of content.

Free culture does NOT mean that the creators don't get paid. Lawrence Lessig says in his book, "A culture without property, in which creators can't get paid, is anarchy, not freedom."

“Think of free speech, not free beer.”

This famous quote by the founder of the free software movement, Richard Stallman, succinctly explains what the movement stands for. The free software movement which took off way back in the mid 80s gives us the basic ideal on which the free culture movement is based.

It aims to give the user the freedom to "share, study and modify" software. The idea behind this is that it encourages innovation.

"Free software" stands opposed to "proprietary software". Unlike free software, proprietary software makes it illegal to install more than one copy on their systems; it doesn't allow users to tinker about with the code or figure out how it works.

Free Software Foundation: What makes software free?

What is open source?

Open source is a concept that's a lot like 'free'. It too allows the users to use, share and modify content (initially this was mostly software). Quite simply, the 'source code' of software wasn't hidden.

But its main difference with free software is that it is not based on the ethical or moral notion of 'freedom'. Proponents say that it is software that's practical to use and innovate without the restrictions of copyright and without the weight of ideology.

As Richard Stallman puts it, "Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement."


The free software and the open source movements have developed their own licenses for content, in place of copyright. These licences are now modified for use with different kinds of media and content.


Creative Commons License
This website by Karunya Keshav is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License except where otherwise specified. Best viewed in Firefox 2.0, Safari or above


More FAQs

What are the types of licences under free culture?

What is creative commons?

What is file sharing?



For more about me: karunyakeshav.com