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Free as in Free Culture

5 November, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Frei wie in freie Kultur

Free Culture Forum (FCF), organized by the Spanish NGO Exgae together with Networked Politics and the Free Knowledge Institute turned Barcelona in the capital of free culture for 3 days. Of course, Free as in Free Speech.

The official Introduction of the 3 day event was a dazzling show, called the Oxcars, where "free" music and video where blended with a showcase of awards for the ones that changed the current situation of the digital culture through their actions

This Free Culture Awards Festival, organized for the second time this year, gathered more than 1000 people in Sala Apollo in Barcelona to see the parody of the SGAE (Spanish music collective society) actions. The festival awarded several people or events that were considered crucial in defending the free flow of information and culture on the Internet.

One of the awardees, writer Alberto Vazquez-Figueroa, said in a public statement "I prefer to be read for no money than not to be read". The author published his latest book "Por Mil millones de dólares" not only on a paper format, but also gave it free on his blog.

Remi Gaillard, a French comedian, also won a prize for his extremely funny videos distributed freely on the Internet. Among the winners there was also the Electronic Frontier Foundation for the parodies after "bunker scene" from the 2004 film "Downfall." In the version presented at the OXcars, Hitler is ranting about troubles with DRM and the failure of DMCA takedowns to prevent fair uses. And the Spanish Campaign "Molina Pirate" received a public ovation for the Grand Twitter Contest that encouraged Internet users to express their creativity in 140 characters or less and to demand the resignation of the Spanish Minister for Culture Cesar Molina who seemed set on taking the rights to access information away from individuals and give them to multinationals and private companies for free.

The fiesta was ended by a "Symphonic illegality" a free karaoke exercise with the Original Jazz Orchestra of Barcelona (Original Jazz Orquestra del Taller de Músics de Barcelona).

The next day was dedicated to a public event hosted by the Barcelona University, with speakers from all mediums, from Felix Stalder who talked about "The political implications of free culture" to the collective identity Isaac Hacksimov or from US Students for Free Culture to Consumers International. The subjects ranged also on a large scale starting with Education and Access to Knowledge and ending up with the immediate threats: TRIPS Plus, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) or the Telecom package. The entire event was broadcasted live, with live microblogging on in Catalan, Spanish and English.

In the next days over 100 high-profile specialists from 20 countries participated in the Forum of Free Culture with the declared purpose of starting a civil society offensive in the defense of fundamental rights in the digital era. This includes rights of freedom of expression or access to culture and knowledge.

The experts were divided, in the next days, into 5 different thematic working groups:
- Legal Perspectives and User Access
- Economies, New P2P Models and Sustainable Distribution
- Education and Access to Knowledge
- Free Software and Open Standards
- Knowledge Sharing Hacker Philosophy and Action Technical Ware

After open discussions and explanations on sometimes different positions and nuances, a "Charter for a free culture" has been agreed upon. The document that will be finalized in the next 10 days will be dedicated to influence the Spanish Presidency of the European Union, by defining the basic principles for a 21st century society that makes use of new Technologies Information for a free and fair supportive and fair digital environment,. The document aims to have an international impact with a lot of participants from US and with official observers from the Ministry of Culture of Brazil assisting at the event, with just a few weeks before the Brazilian Digital Culture Forum where the Culture Ministry will launch a new strategy on copyright.

Draft charter

Working documents from the 5 working groups

Live microblogging on Free Culture Forum

The free distribution of content has its rewards in oXcars (only in Spanish, 28.10.2009)

FCForum, the rebel alliance (only in Spanish, 29.10.2009)

P2p escapes from Internet (only in Spanish, 30.10.2009)

AntiSGAE Gala in Barcelona: P2P or death (30.10.2009)

Press release



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