Internet as a free access to the culture
Internet was designed as a space to share information and it has no centralized governance. We can difference between two ideas: the technological implementation (how the network is built) and the policies of access and usage (how to do things with it). A great decision was made up with the use of open standards. It is known that an open standard is just a standard which all its documentation and the rights of usage is available to everyone.
I am going to make a reflection about how the design principles influence the policies of access and usage of the Net. These design principles spread four basic rules that make up a whole philosophy around the Internet concept:
- Universatility: you can link to anything – without any kind of ban. It also means that people are able to put anything on the web.
- Decentralization: there is no central authority; the network is every one who connects to it.
- Open standards: you can use communication protocols and other implementation as your own and you can have a look to the full specification of these protocols and implementations.
- Keep the web separate from the Internet: the Web is just an application, and the Internet is the platform which runs Web applications.
I considerate – and many others – that the Internet is the biggest public space today and it represents the freedom and the will of human beings to create a space of collective production. On the other hand, every day it is questioned by governments and huge companies, and they keep the idea that the Internet needs a regularization to enforce the law. Furthermore, the two main reasons to make a regularization of the Internet are:
- To protect copyrights, especially of the cultural products
- To make the Internet a ‘safer place’
According to this two affirmations, it is worth remembering that many artists and free thinkers often use other works to get new ideas, as a source of inspiration. This is not a crime (by the moment), but sometimes you have to spend a lot of money to get a cultural product and you only have a few rights over it. In fact, you have really payed for a license to use a copy or implementation of a cultural product. This approach is known as the economy of scarcity because you are not free to do whatever you want with this piece of culture; you access to your culture throughout intermediaries and mediators and all of this generates an industry that exploits its workers and its users: artists and creators in one extreme and the final user on the other, but in the middle exists a lucrative business that is led by huge companies which influence governments to create laws to close artists and final users in a industry which restricts the freedom and the innovation.
On the other hand, there is the free culture which is inspired in the free software philosophy – see http://www.fsf.org/about/ – and it consists on sharing our cultural works in a license which its terms of conditions allow everyone to make changes, improve and share them with others without any kind of restriction, as long as you allow others to do the same with the new version you have made – see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.en.html -. In other words, you are free to get cultural products from the community, and the community hopes you will contribute with other works, donations, improvements or any kind of collaborations. This approach is known as economy of abundance. Despite of the fact that the copyright is either a wall or a barrier for innovation, the copyleft is a ecosystem for creativity and freedom.
To sump up, I personally think we should not see art works, cultural products, etc as a business. Instead, we must change our mind and make free our works because we can establish a relationship peer to peer with the final user without limits and contribute in a global community which innovation based on creativity is its first aim. If we really want to save culture and authors, we will have to go to the free culture, and the Internet is the best way the humanity has ever had to do so.
Tomás, Carlos & others (2012) ‘Cultura Libre Digital: Nociones básicas para defender lo que es de todxs‘: Barcelona, Icaria Editorial S.A.