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Free content

free content for websites, free content management software
Free content, libre content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work


  • 1 Definition
  • 2 Legal matters
    • 21 Copyright
    • 22 Public domain
    • 23 Copyleft
  • 3 Usage
    • 31 Media
    • 32 Software
    • 33 Engineering and technology
    • 34 Academia
    • 35 Legislation
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading
  • 8 External links


A free cultural work free content is, according to the Definition of free cultural works, one that has no significant legal restriction on people's freedom to:

  • use the content and benefit from using it,
  • study the content and apply what is learned,
  • make and distribute copies of the content,
  • change and improve the content and distribute these derivative works

Free content encompasses all works in the public domain and also those copyrighted works whose licenses honor and uphold the freedoms mentioned above Because the Berne Convention in most countries by default grants copyright holders monopolistic control over their creations, copyright content must be explicitly declared free, usually by the referencing or inclusion of licensing statements from within the work

Although there are a great many different definitions in regular everyday use, free content is legally very similar, if not like an identical twin, to open content An analogy is the use of the rival terms free software and open source, which describe ideological differences rather than legal ones For instance, the Open Knowledge Foundation's Open Definition describes "open" as synonymous to the definition of free in the "Definition of Free Cultural Works" as also in the Open Source Definition and Free Software Definition For such free/open content both movements recommend the same three Creative Commons licenses, the CC BY, CC BY-SA, and CC0

Legal matters


copyright Main article: Copyright

Copyright is a legal concept, which gives the author or creator of a work legal control over the duplication and public performance of his or her work In many jurisdictions, this is limited by a time period after which the works then enter the public domain Copyright laws are a balance between the rights of creators of intellectual and artistic works and the rights of others to build upon those works During the time period of copyright the author's work may only be copied, modified, or publicly performed with the consent of the author, unless the use is a fair use Traditional copyright control limits the use of the work of the author to those who either pay royalties to the author for usage of the authors content, or limit their use to fair use Secondly it limits the use of content whose author cannot be found Finally it creates a perceived barrier between authors by limiting derivative works, such as mashups and collaborative content

Public domain

public domain Main article: Public domain

The public domain is a range of creative works whose copyright has expired, or was never established; as well as ideas and facts which are ineligible for copyright A public domain work is a work whose author has either relinquished to the public, or no longer can claim control over, the distribution and usage of the work As such any person may manipulate, distribute, or otherwise utilize the work, without legal ramifications A work in the public domain or released under a permissive licence may be referred to as "copycenter"



Copyleft is a play on the word copyright and describes the practice of using copyright law to remove restrictions on distributing copies and modified versions of a work The aim of copyleft is to use the legal framework of copyright to enable non-author parties to be able to reuse and, in many licensing schemes, modify content that is created by an author Unlike works in the public domain, the author still maintains copyright over the material, however the author has granted a non-exclusive license to any person to distribute, and often modify, the work Copyleft licenses require that any derivative works be distributed under the same terms, and that the original copyright notices be maintained A symbol commonly associated with copyleft is a reversal of the copyright symbol, facing the other way; the opening of the C points left rather than right Unlike the copyright symbol, the copyleft symbol does not have a codified meaning


Projects that provide free content exist in several areas of interest, such as software, academic literature, general literature, music, images, video, and engineering

Technology has reduced the cost of publication and reduced the entry barrier sufficiently to allow for the production of widely disseminated materials by individuals or small groups Projects to provide free literature and multimedia content have become increasingly prominent owing to the ease of dissemination of materials that is associated with the development of computer technology Such dissemination may have been too costly prior to these technological developments


Creative Commons Main article: Creative Commons

In media, which includes textual, audio, and visual content, free licensing schemes such as some of the licenses made by Creative Commons have allowed for the dissemination of works under a clear set of legal permissions Not all of the Creative Commons’ licenses are entirely free: their permissions may range from very liberal general redistribution and modification of the work to a more restrictive redistribution-only licensing Since February 2008, Creative Commons licenses which are entirely free carry a badge indicating that they are "approved for free cultural works" Repositories exist which exclusively feature free material provide content such as photographs, clip art, music, and literature,

While extensive reuse of free content from one website in another website is legal, it is usually not sensible because of the duplicate content problem Wikipedia is amongst the most well known databases of user uploaded free content on the web While the vast majority of content on Wikipedia is free content, some copyrighted material is hosted under Fair-use criteria


OSI logo FSF logo Main article: Free and open-source software

Free and open source software, which is also often referred to as open source software and free software, is a maturing technology with major companies utilising free software to provide both services and technology to both end users and technical consumers The ease of dissemination has allowed for increased modularity, which allows for smaller groups to contribute to projects as well as simplifying collaboration

Open source development models have been classified as having a similar peer-recognition and collaborative benefit incentives that are typified by more classical fields such as scientific research, with the social structures that result from this incentive model decreasing production cost

Given sufficient interest in a software component, by using peer-to-peer distribution methods, distribution costs of software may be reduced, removing the burden of infrastructure maintenance from developers As distribution resources are simultaneously provided by consumers, these software distribution models are scalable, that is the method is feasible regardless of the number of consumers In some cases, free software vendors may use peer-to-peer technology as a method of dissemination

In general, project hosting and code distribution is not a problem for the most of free projects as a number of providers offer them these services for free

Engineering and technology

Open source hardware logo

Free content principles have been translated into fields such as engineering, where designs and engineering knowledge can be readily shared and duplicated, in order to reduce overheads associated with project development Open design principles can be applied in engineering and technological applications, with projects in mobile telephony, small-scale manufacture, the automotive industry, and even agricultural areas

Technologies such as distributed manufacturing can allow computer-aided manufacturing and computer-aided design techniques to be able to develop small-scale production of components for the development of new, or repair of existing, devices Rapid fabrication technologies underpin these developments, which allow end users of technology to be able to construct devices from pre-existing blueprints, using software and manufacturing hardware to convert information into physical objects


open access Main article: Open access publishing

In academic work, the majority of works are not free, although the percentage of works that are open access is growing rapidly Open access refers to online research outputs that are free of all restrictions on access eg access tolls and free of many restrictions on use eg certain copyright and license restrictions Authors may see open access publishing as a method of expanding the audience that is able to access their work to allow for greater impact of the publication, or may support it for ideological reasons Open access publishers such as PLOS and Biomed Central provide capacity for review and publishing of free works; though such publications are currently more common in science than humanities

Various funding institutions and governing research bodies have mandated that academics must produce their works to be open-access, in order to qualify for funding, such as the National Institutes of Health, RCUK effective 2016 and the EU effective 2020 At an institutional level some universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT, have adopted open access publishing by default by introducing their own mandates Some mandates may permit delayed publication and may charge researchers for open access publishing

Open content publication has been seen as a method of reducing costs associated with information retrieval in research, as universities typically pay to subscribe for access to content that is published through traditional means whilst improving journal quality by discouraging the submission of research articles of reduced quality

Subscriptions for non-free content journals may be expensive for universities to purchase, though the article are written and peer-reviewed by academics themselves at no cost to the publisher This has led to disputes between publishers and some universities over subscription costs, such as the one which occurred between the University of California and the Nature Publishing Group

For teaching purposes, some universities, including MIT, provide freely available course content, such as lecture notes, video resources and tutorials This content is distributed via Internet resources to the general public Publication of such resources may be either by a formal institution-wide program, or alternately via informal content provided by individual academics or departments


Any country has its own law and legal system, sustained by its legislation, a set of law-documents — documents containing statutory obligation rules, usually law and created by legislatures In a democratic country, each law-document is published as open media content, is in principle a free content; but in general there are no explicit license attributed for each law-document, so the license must be interpreted, is a implied license

Only few countries have explicit licenses in its law-documents, as the UK's Open Government Licence a CC-BY compatible license

In the other countries, the implied license comes from its proper rules general laws and rules about copyright in government works The automatic protection provided by Berne Convention not apply to law-documents: Article 24 excludes the official texts from the automatic protection

It is also possible to "inherit" the license from context The set of country's law-documents is made available through national repositories Examples of law-document open repositories: LexML Brazil, Legislationgovuk, N-Lex of EU countries In general a law-document is offered in more than one open official version, but the main one is that published by a government gazette So, law-documents can eventually inherit license expressed by the repository or by the gazette that contains it

See also

  • Content media
  • Definition of Free Cultural Works
  • Free and open source software
  • Free culture movement
  • Free software movement
  • Freedom of information
  • Libre knowledge
  • Open Content Alliance
  • Open publishing
  • Open-source hardware
  • Permissive free software licence
  • Project Gutenberg


  1. ^ The copyright status of uncreative aggregates of basic data may differ by region, for the USA see Feist Publications v Rural Telephone Service, for Australia, see Telstra v Desktop Marketing Systems


  1. ^ Erik Möller, ea 2008 "Definition of Free Cultural Works" 11 freedomdefinedorg Retrieved 2015-04-20 
  2. ^ Stallman, Richard November 13, 2008 "Free Software and Free Manuals" Free Software Foundation Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  3. ^ Stallman, Richard "Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software" Free Software Foundation 
  4. ^ Kelty, Christpher M 2008 "The Cultural Significance of free Software - Two Bits" PDF Duke University press - durham and london p 99 Prior to 1998, Free Software referred either to the Free Software Foundation and the watchful, micromanaging eye of Stallman or to one of thousands of different commercial, avocational, or university-research projects, processes, licenses, and ideologies that had a variety of names: sourceware, freeware, shareware, open software, public domain software, and so on The term Open Source, by contrast, sought to encompass them all in one movement 
  5. ^ "Goodbye, "free software"; hello, "open source"" Catborg Retrieved 2012-10-25 
  6. ^ Open Definition 21 on opendefinitionorg "This essential meaning matches that of “open” with respect to software as in the Open Source Definition and is synonymous with “free” or “libre” as in the Free Software Definition and Definition of Free Cultural Works"
  7. ^ licenses on opendefinitioncom
  8. ^ Creative Commons 40 BY and BY-SA licenses approved conformant with the Open Definition by Timothy Vollmer on creativecommonsorg December 27th, 2013
  9. ^ Open Definition 20 released by Timothy Vollmer on creativecommonsorg October 7th, 2014
  10. ^ "The Importance of Orphan Works Legislation" 
  11. ^ Ben Depoorter; Francesco Parisi 2002 "Fair use and copyright protection: a price theory explanation" International Review of Law and Economics 21 4: 453 doi:101016/S0144-8188#0100071-0 
  12. ^ Raymond, Eric S "Copycenter" The Jargon File Retrieved August 9, 2008 
  13. ^ Dusollier, S 2003 "Open source and copyleft Authorship reconsidered" Columbia journal of Law and the Arts 26 296 
  14. ^ Hall, G Brent 2008 Open Source Approaches in Spatial Data Handling Springer p 29 ISBN 3-540-74830-X Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  15. ^ Linksvayer, Mike February 20, 2008 "Approved for Free Cultural Works" Creative Commons Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  16. ^ "iRate Radio" SourceForgenet Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  17. ^ "Gutenberg:No Cost or Freedom" Project Gutenberg April 23, 2007 Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  18. ^ Mustonen, Mikko "Copyleft – the economics of Linux and other open source software" PDF Discussion Paper No 493 Department of Economics, University of Helsinki Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  19. ^ Pawlak, Michel; Bryce, Ciarán; Laurière, Stéphane May 29, 2008 "The Practice of Free and Open Source Software Processes" PDF Rapport de recherche inria-00274193, version 2 Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique INRIA N° 6519 April 2008 ISSN 0249-6399 Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  20. ^ Hendry, Andrew March 4, 2008 "RepRap: An open-source 3D printer for the masses" Computerworld Australia The Industry Standard Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  21. ^ Honsig, Markus January 25, 2006 "The most open of all cars" Technology Review in German Heinz Heise Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  22. ^ "Australian drive for green commuter cars" The Sydney Morning Herald Sydney 14 June 2010 Retrieved 5 June 2015 
  23. ^ Stewart, Jr, C Neal December 2005 "Open-source Agriculture" PDF ISB News Report Information Systems for Biotechnology ISB Retrieved March 22, 2009  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  24. ^ Suber, Peter "Open Access Overview" Earlhamedu Retrieved on 2011-12-03
  25. ^ Alma Swan; Sheridan Brown May 2005 "Open access self-archiving: An author study" PDF Key Perspectives Limited 
  26. ^ Andrew, Theo October 30, 2003 "Trends in Self-Posting of Research Material Online by Academic Staff" Ariadne UKOLN 37 ISSN 1361-3200 Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  27. ^ Key Perspectives "JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey Report" PDF Joint Information Systems Committee JISC Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  28. ^ Haslam, Maryanne "NHMRC Partnership Projects – Funding Policy" PDF National Health and Medical Research Council NHMRC Archived from the original PDF on March 17, 2009 Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  29. ^ "Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research" Retrieved July 12, 2009 
  30. ^ "Open access - RCUK Policy and revised guidance" 
  31. ^ "Outcome of Proceedings, 9526/16 RECH 208 TELECOM 100, The transition towards an Open Science System" 
  32. ^ "MIT faculty open access to their scholarly articles" MIT news 20 March 2009 
  33. ^ "Policy of the Society for General Microbiology towards author self-archiving on PubMed Central and institutional and other repositories" Retrieved April 10, 2009 
  34. ^ "OnlineOpen" Retrieved April 10, 2009 
  35. ^ Mayor, Susan April 19, 2003 "Libraries face higher costs for academic journals" BMJ: British Medical Journal BMJ Group 326 7394: 840 PMC 1125769  |access-date= requires |url= help
  36. ^ "AMS Journal price survey" Retrieved May 23, 2009 
  37. ^ a b "Costs and business models in scientific research publishing: A report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust" PDF Retrieved May 23, 2009 
  38. ^ "Response from the University of California to the Public statement from Nature Publishing Group regarding subscription renewals at the California Digital Library" PDF June 10, 2010 Archived from the original PDF on June 26, 2010 Retrieved September 13, 2015 
  39. ^ Hawkes, Nigel November 10, 2003 "Boycott 'greedy' journal publishers, say scientists" The Times London Archived from the original on April 29, 2011 Retrieved September 13, 2015 
  40. ^ "About OpenCourseWare" Retrieved April 10, 2009 

Further reading

  • D Atkins; J S Brown; A L Hammond February 2007 A Review of the Open Educational Resources OER Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities PDF Report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 
  • OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Giving Knowledge for free – The Emergence of Open Educational Resources 2007, ISBN 92-64-03174-X

External links

  • Definition of Free Cultural Works – A definition of "free content" or "free cultural works" similar to the free software definition
  • "Episodes of collective invention" PDF Peter B Meyer; August 4, 2003 – article on several US-oriented historical examples of free content in technology
  • Open Definition – project by the Open Knowledge Foundation which provides a definition of "open" suitable for content and data
  • What is free content on WikiEducator

free content, free content articles, free content calendar template, free content curation tools, free content delivery network, free content for websites, free content generator, free content management software, free content management system, free content on roku

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