Monthly Archives: September 2008

Free Culture and DRM

Ben Jones has a piece about my book, Free Culture, being made available on Kindle, a platform that uses DRM.
In my view, the “free culture” test for a work is whether it is available freely — not whether it is also available not freely. “Free Culture” is available freely — meaning, it is licensed freely here. One can put that freely licensed version on a Kindle, freely. I hadn’t known my publisher was going to make Free Culture available on the Kindle, but now that they have, I’d be very keen to have a version I can make freely available on the “Free Culture” remix page.
“But shouldn’t,” one could well argue, “you not support DRM technologies at all?” That’s a valid position taken by many I respect. My view, however, is that one supports the campaign to avoid debilitating DRM by making culture freely available. New technologies will try all sorts of new deals to make things competitive. So long as free, open format versions are available to compete with that, I am not concerned about the DRM’d version existing as well.
Ben’s post claims that one would violate “the DMCA by circumventing the DRM, it is hard to put the pdf version of the book on the Kindle.” I don’t get this. There’s no violating of the DMCA when one adapts the format of a work as permitted by the copyright holder. Indeed, I should think the DMCA is violated by any effort to restrict the rights granted by a license — including the CC license rights. So any problem here is not the user’s — it is Kindle’s.
Anyway, I may be wrong about this. And I’ll be listening to see. Continue reading

Posted in free culture | 8 Comments

Free Culture @ Berkeley

From Students for Free Culture:

Free Culture 2008 Conference
October 11-12, 2008
Chevron Auditorium, International House
2299 Piedmont Ave, Berkeley CA
What’s Free Culture?
Free Culture is a movement focused on creativity and innovation, communication and free expression, public access to knowledge and civil liberties. Students for Free Culture at Berkeley is proudly hosting the Free Culture 2008 Conference over Columbus Day weekend.
Conference Details
The conference will be held October 11th at the Chevron Auditorium at UC Berkeley. Anyone interested in politics, tech policy, art, and culture will find something to like—we’ll be featuring keynote presentations from Pam Samuelson of Boalt Hall, Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law, and Mozilla Corporation CEO John Lilly. We are also convening panels on transparent politics, remix culture, copyright reform, and open access to knowledge and medicine. Richard Rinehart of Berkeley Art Museum will present the groundbreaking OpenMuseum project and Berkeley’s OKAPI group will demonstrate its virtual recreation of Çatalhöyük island for the Open Archaeology project. Filmmaker Nina Paley will be present for a screening of her groundbreaking film Sita Sings the Blues. And on October 12th, SFC will present a slate of intimate “unconference” style workshops on the Berkeley campus. Join guests from Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others!
We’re asking attendees to donate what they think the conference is worth, whether that’s $1 or $100. Register today at!

As advertised, I’m speaking. I’ll introduce my new book, Remix, which will be released that week. (And fear not, there’s a very cool Creative Commons surprise to be announced then (iow: please don’t sweat copyright pages)). Continue reading

Posted in free culture | 6 Comments

Websters' Dictionary (as in WEBsters')

From the CC blog:

The Websters’ Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World is a newly released book on “how to create communities of thousands […] and channel their energy to effect political, social and cultural transformation.” Written by tech-advocate and political theorist Ralph Benko, The Websters’ Dictionary aims to educate on the web’s potential to motivate groups and enact change on broader issues, all while keeping in mind the complexities inherent in organizing movements online.

While the book is aimed at those with mid-level web experience, The Websters’ Dictionary has salient points that should resonate across technical prowess and familiarity. The Websters’ Dictionary is available for free PDF download – after taking the “Websters’ Oath” – and is being released under a CC BY-NC license, meaning that it can be reused in any number of ways, as long as future works credit Ralph Benko and are noncommercial in intent. Hardcover and paperbacks versions of the book should be available in October.

Continue reading

Posted in good code | 8 Comments

Free Debates: Round Two

As reported on the LA Times blog, During the primaries, a bunch of us (both Democrats and Republicans) called on the parties to demand that the networks adopt “open” or “free debate” principles, to assure that the debates would be available to everyone to use or reuse as they choose.
We’re back. In the extended entry below is another letter, signed by another bipartisan mix, calling on McCain and Obama to commit to “open debate principles.” You can get a PDF of the letter here. Continue reading

Posted in good code | 38 Comments

on the corrupting of lessig

A number of great and interesting comments were made in response to my privacy-compromising (and as some said, ad-placement) confession. I’ve posted some replies. Thanks for the comments. Continue reading

Posted in eye | 4 Comments

On Palin's "experience"

I was intrigued by Governor Palin’s hint in her ABC interview that her experience was comparable to other VPs across history. I was surprised by how incorrect she was.
Here’s a mp4 version.
Here’s the version at
Here’s a version at the Internet Archives. Continue reading

Posted in presidential politics | 35 Comments

the latest bailout (for the rich, the only entitled bailout group in America) exposed

The ever-fantastic Sunlight Foundation has a launched a Public Markup of the Financial Industry Bailout Bill. Check it out here. Continue reading

Posted in good code | 10 Comments

more against the Orphan Works Bill

Mark Dery has a nice piece in PRINT magazine against the Orphan Works Bill. Continue reading

Posted in bad code | 2 Comments



Susan Crawford’s fantastic idea — One Web Day — happened today. I participated in New York. My five minutes is in the extended entry. PDF is here. Continue reading

Posted in good code | 4 Comments

Fantastic new (cc) book — Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters

Trust: Reaching The 100 Million Missing Voters, originally released in 2004 as a collection of essays, has been re-released online under a CC BY-NC license, by (my friend) the author, Farai Chideya, is credited and it is for non-commercial purposes.
You can download the first chapters here, with more to follow as the election continues. Continue reading

Posted in creative commons | Leave a comment