Guest Post: An Open Letter to Matt Lee Regarding freesw.org

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 12:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By figosdev

Matt Lee
Via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC BY 4.0

Summary: “I realise you and I probably don’t agree on very much. What I think we do agree on is the importance of getting Free Culture and Free Software right.”

Here is a great idea: https://freesw.org/

The webpage states: “Starting today we are going to start an effort to unite our community around our shared values and to document, promote and publicize any and all software, artwork, documentation, and supporting material that meets the Debian Free Software Guidelines.”

There are hints that this won’t just be about software:

“Thanks to the work of hundreds of thousands of individuals and dozens of organizations, we now have free and open music, movies, books, and encyclopedias, as well as software.”

The Free Media Alliance promotes this sort of idea and encourages people (including Lee) to pursue building such collections.

I would personally recommend that such a collection be licensed CC0, to maximise its usefulness to a global network of such libraries. Library-like Listings of works do not add value by restricting what other people can do with them; on the contrary, the more we build these libraries online the more we can contribute substantially to each others’ libraries — simply by managing our own.

I don’t have any details on the plans regarding freesw.org, nor do I assume that anybody will make use of any of this advice, but if they don’t then I would offer the same advice to anybody else creating a library online.

The choice to provide “supporting material that meets the Debian Free Software Guidelines” is a particularly good one. In the past, the DFSG was used to discourage people from choosing a “documentation license” over one suitable to OER; I support the GNU GPL but the “Free Documentation License” restricts paper copies.

For OER, restrictions on paper copies are not ideal, and the FDL was unsuitable enough that Wikipedia worked to migrate from that license to a proper Free Culture license for its encyclopedia project. Fortunately for us, the FSF helped them.

If textbooks are better off with Free Culture licenses, then we are better off scrapping special licenses for “documentation” and just use the better (also more free) OER standards. If those OER standards do not offer the 4 freedoms, then we should create a “Libre Education Resource” standard that does. GPL compatibility is a serious bonus.

As for this library, the easier we make it to find works (both software works and cultural works) under free licenses, the better these licenses and their associated freedoms will be known — the better promoted and considered by all as a means of communication and spreading intellectual freedom.

It was my hope, years ago, that Students for Free Culture would both change their name to the Free Culture Foundation and create a library such as the one Lee describes. Today, the Free Culture Foundation website seems to be missing, the freeculture.org wiki seems to be vandalised and even the Creative Commons wiki has deleted valuable data on freely-licensed books that they used to host.

What is it about Free Culture that makes people walk away?

As each iteration of a major Free Culture resource has risen and wavered, my hope is that we will finally build a collaborative network of libraries that together serve the many different needs, desires (and perhaps demands) of different people. Each year, more Free Culture and Free Software works are created. Free Software has a directory; Free Culture still lacks one (though I continue to find new things to add to the Alliance Library, and people are gradually contributing more works.)

I cannot even find the Free Culture Foundation’s collection now, but I predicted that what would keep them from growing was a very narrow definition of what they were looking for — the licenses weren’t the issue; it was their expectations of people and of works that I found too exclusive.

Speaking of which, I believe you still work for the FSF; would you ask whomever is in charge of email to stop censoring Daniel Pocock? Thanks.

I realise you and I probably don’t agree on very much. What I think we do agree on is the importance of getting Free Culture and Free Software right. That leaves a lot of things to differ on, but make no mistake — I would like freesw.org to succeed. My hope is that it gets the most important things right.

Long Live Stallman and Happy Hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:


If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New

  1. Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit: Right to Repair

    Uploaded earlier this month was this talk and accompanying slides; summary below

  2. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, May 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, May 15, 2021

  3. [Meme] When All That Matters is 'Production' and 'Timeliness'

    The EPO has gone down the same route as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) when it comes to patent quality; as if the goal is to grant 11 million patents (most of them in just a few decades) rather than assess the impact of such patents

  4. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 8: The Radical Student “Brotherhood”

    The latest part in this series explores the roots of Judge Josefsson; that can help explain how Benoît Battistelli constructed his stacked EPO ‘court’, which he and António Campinos basically control to rubber-stamp whatever illegal practices they engage in (in pursuit of money and power, at the expense of the law)

  5. Christoph Ernst Lecturing Us on “Transparency” and EPO Corruption (as Well as Assault on the EPC) Becoming a “New Normal”

    The EPO’s administration continues rushing ahead with an unlawful agenda, exploiting a pandemic that’s gradually coming under control regardless to shred apart the EPC

  6. Richard Stallman's Talk About New/er Risks to Free Software (Free as in Freedom-Respecting, Libre)

    Richard M. Stallman (RMS) gave the above talk not too long before the attacks on him intensified greatly, serving to silence him for nearly 2 years

  7. Jacques Michel and Willy (Guillaume) Minnoye: Stakeholders in EPO Lawlessness

    Former EPO Vice-Presidents who wish not to be held accountable for what they did in the Office (or be chased after leaving their duties, finishing/ending terms there) are adding fuel to the illegal agenda of an EPOnian regime

  8. Links 15/5/2021: Godot 3.3.1 RC 2 and Pine64 Hardware in Focus

    Links for the day

  9. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 7: Calle's Strange Metamorphosis

    Sources believe the “legal anarchy” that EPOnia became notorious for, especially when it comes to handling referrals at the EPO‘s BoA, will become a dark legacy — a legacy that would, if he was alive, disappoint even Josefsson’s source of inspiration

  10. Making up Law at the EPO

    Another video about the ongoing EPO series and some news/commentary from around the Web

  11. Over a Thousand Videos (or Audio Files) and More Protocols Supported

    From just a Web site (ordinary HTTP/S protocol) we've expanded to alternative channels of communication; this is a quick roundup, with focus on last night's development work (already pushed into our self-hosted Git repository)

  12. IRC Proceedings: Friday, May 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, May 14, 2021

  13. Nathan Proctor: Right to Repair and the DMCA

    LibrePlanet 2019 video

  14. [Meme] Calle Calling...

    The values of the Habermasian EPO judge depend on who’s paying the salary

  15. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 6: The Habermasian Who Warned About “Legal Anarchy”

    The political orientation of a Benoît Battistelli-appointed EPO judge who has the audacity to talk about legal anarchy and bemoan abuse of the law; the António Campinos administration extended his term until (at least) 2027

  16. Paid-for Plugs and Coordinated Marketing Fluff (PR Campaigns) Are Ruining 'Linux' Sites

    Junk 'articles' (just marketing disguised as 'news') spoil the World Wide Web; companies repeat the same sales pitch over and over again, sometimes leveraging what they perceive to be avenues read by geeks

  17. Links 15/5/2021: GCC 8.5, Fedora Community Revamp

    Links for the day

  18. Links 14/5/2021: FreeBSD on the Pine H6, Red Hat Hiring

    Links for the day

  19. Protecting Freenode is Protecting the Free Software Movement

    Freenode may seem like a negligible corner of the Internet, which media never bothers mentioning at all; but Freenode, which many have come to take for granted, is core infrastructure for many Free software projects and protecting the network is essential for the Free Software Movement

  20. EPO Justice

    Justice in Europe's second-largest institution, where the law itself is a second-class citizen

  21. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 13, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, May 13, 2021

  22. Understanding How Freenode (IRC) Works -- or Doesn't Work -- in 2021

    There is a conflict going on behind the scenes at Freenode, but there are also sincere and well-meaning attempts to undo the damage and get back to normal

  23. [Meme] Judges the Office Cannot Control Are Just Nazis With Weapons in Their Office...

    The EPO hasn’t been run by grown-ups for over ten years; Benoît Battistelli, António Campinos and their confidants cannot grasp the concept of law, just blind loyalty

  24. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 5: Battistelli's “Swedish Chef”

    The EPO's 'courts' are controlled by the people whom they're supposed to judge on; this has been the case for at least half a decade

  25. Links 14/5/2021: KDE Plasma 5.22 Beta and GNOME 40 in Gentoo

    Links for the day

  26. Audio: “Unjust Computing Clamps Down” by Richard Stallman

    The FSF has finally uploaded the LibrePlanet talk of Richard Stallman

  27. Links 13/5/2021: KDE Gear 21.04.1 and LibreOffice 7.0.6

    Links for the day

  28. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 4: The President of the Boards of Appeal

    A deeper look into the ‘sausage factory’ that is EPO tribunals certainly helps us understand the inherent bias of many decisions, including a recent decision on European software patents like a controversial simulation patent

  29. Judging the Judges

    Today we shall take a closer look at Carl Josefsson, a person who shall become a figure of interest if he sends EPO courts to the United States in clear violation of the EPC (looking to rubber-stamp an unlawful decision already made before this case even started)

  30. When EU Authorities Tell You to Complain to the EPO Itself About EPO Privacy Violations...

    “Kafkaesque” at the EPO; Kafka could do a whole novel about the flirtations with or affairs of ‘justice’ at the EPO

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts