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Preamble

We are a society obsessed with ownership, wealth, and litigation. Ownership would not be such a problem if we did not live in a world of limited resource. Unfortunately, we are bound by a system of resource distribution that draws wealth from the poor to the wealthy, who protect their ownership through the obtuse arcana of our legal system. To make matters worse, this system rewards and sanctions doing what is wrong for the common good, rather than doing what is right.

It is the world of ideas that is, perhaps, the only resource that is limitless. Its boundaries are the sum of all minds and their experiences throughout time and so, unlike our material resources, it is ever increasing instead of decreasing. Furthermore, the present world of ideas owes a debt for its existence to the past, as the future will owe the present. Any particular new idea stands upon the shoulders of its predecessors.

It is this difference between intellectual resource and material resource which requires a rethinking of the economics of ideas. Ideas belong to a culture; they are not owned by an individual or corporation. Ideas increase in value with their abundance, not their scarcity. Ideas should be freely available as seeds for more ideas, and not bound and haggled over by lawyers and politicians.

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Article 1

Any idea claiming to be FreeWritten is truly free speech. Its Author expects nor demands neither credit, reward, nor compensation for its use by others; nor grants permission for its use, as such permission is inherent in the claim of FreeRight.

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Article 2

Any User of FreeWritten material may do so for any purpose she or he chooses, so long as that use is for the gain of all and not solely for her or himself.

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Article 3

While FreeWritten material is made available without thought of compensation, it is still morally incumbent upon the User to take such measures as are appropriate and fitting within the spirit of this manifesto. To wit:

  1. Claims of FreeRight link either back to this page or to a local copy of the page, so that others may be informed of the meaning and intent of the claim1.
  2. Credit should be given where credit is due; Authors should be acknowledged and linked to their material used by others2.
  3. Reward should not be taken where it is not deserved; Users utilizing content claimed under FreeRight as part or the whole of a for-profit product should donate an appropriate percentage of any profits to charity.

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Article 4

It is reasonable for Authors of FreeWritten material to suggest to potential Users appropriate means of recognition, to ask not to be recognized, or to suggest charitable organizations for profit donations.

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Article 5

Claim of FreeRight is done with absolute freedom of speech and the common good in mind. It is meant to inspire and expediate the free exchange of ideas. But, as all freedoms, it still needs protection. It is not a surrender of copyright. Those Users seeking to exploit FreeWritten material soley for personal gain are still subject to copyright infringement and all accompanying penalties3.

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Article 6

FreeRight can be claimed for any expression in any form of media, whether text, graphic, video, audio, or any non-computer-based medium of expression.

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Post-ramble

Why claim FreeRight?

Maybe presenting my reasons for authoring this page may inform you, inspire you, bore you, or give you a clue or a chuckle.

I have always been an advocate for free speech. Pure, absolute, unadulterated free speech. Even in the case of hate speech: I'd rather such people open their mouths and identify themselves as hateful bigots rather than having them work secretly behind my back. Lies are best revealed as such in the open, anyway.

The time I spent in pursuit of four various college degrees also taught me a valuable lesson about the notion of ideas as a commodity. As a scientist, I find such a view morally repugnant and antithetical to the primary aim of science -- gaining a greater understanding of our world. Unfortunately, it is this notion of ideas-as-commodities that is contributing greatly to the intellectual and creative decline of academe nowadays ... in order to get tenure, you have to publish; in order to publish, you have to be original; in order to prove originality, you have to create your own terminology and theory instead of building upon the works of others, leading to the fractioning of each discipline. Because we're all so worried about name recognition, we lose sight of what's important.

No, I am not rejecting the notion of producing artworks, photos, fiction, textbooks, etc. for profit. Sadly, that's how our system works and until someone comes up with a more equitable system that still provides the incentives the free market generates in terms of spurring creativity and productivity, I imagine we're stuck with it. What I am rejecting, and what I urge others to reject, is the what's-in-it-for-me, gold-rush mentality springing up on the World Wide Web (and elsewhere) that prompts people to stake their claim of ownership over that which should be freely given and shared, that which benefits the individual through improving the community.

In other words, just say no to stamping © all over your pages. Give them away freely, instead.

While this page may be the first to claim anything like FreeRight, as far as I know, it is certainly not original in total. You may find different influences and voices in it than I, but these are some of the sources of inspiration I think are behind it:

If you use this page or this idea as part of a profit-generating product, I ask that you donate an appropriate dollar amount or percent of the profit to:

An organization dedicated to preserving or protecting the environment, such as
The Nature Conservancy
The Sierra Club
Greenpeace
An organization dedicated to helping children, such as
The Children's Defense Fund
The March of Dimes
An organization dedicated to helping groups targetted by prejudice and bigotry, such as
The United Negro College Fund
God's Love We Deliver
I also ask that you refrain from donating funds generated by use of this page to any political party or campaign fund.

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Footnotes

  1. As this page is, itself, FreeWritten, you do not need to ask me if you want to put a copy of it on your own server. You do not even have to give me credit, if you do not want to! If you do post a local copy, I do ask that you include a link at the bottom of your local page pointing to this original document.
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  2. Imagine, if you will, that people take this to heart and follow the guidelines here. Imagine, as well, this going on for ten years. Now imagine, if you can, following a new claim of FreeRight through tens years of creative history by pursuing its predecessors ... some links missing, most (hopefully) still there. That would be an exciting cyberjourney!
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  3. For example, I will vigorously defend this idea's independence and freedom from those who would exploit it for profit or claim ownership of it in order to hold exclusive rights to it. To that end, I have notarized copies of both the source document and the browser-interpreted document sealed in a certified letter to verify their authority.
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