Barcelona Charter for Innovation Creativity and Access to Knowledge - Libre Interpretation

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Barcelona Culture Forum Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge Citizens' and artists' rights in the digital age

Immediate and urgent solutions

The official version is available here:

This is the Extended version 1.0-libre – Libre Interpretation for learning about Libre Knowledge (see libre knowledge declaration and Say "Libre"). This version is based on version 1.0 of the original charter of the Free Culture Forum.

We invite all citizens to make this Charter theirs, spread it and practice it.

We invite all the governments, multinationals and institutions urgently to read it, understand it, embrace the principles, adopt and implement it.

This document is a plea to governments, fellow citizens in all sectors at all levels, to recognise the importance and value of the digital commons and of a libre culture in the emerging post-crisis economy. It is a guide to policy intervention and action to safeguard the digital commons and establish essential foundations for a sustainable knowledge society.

A libre culture is free of restrictions on collaboration on knowledge and cultural production. Knowledge and cultural resources are used liberally, and customarily shared, adapted and co-produced. Such freedom encourages diversity, interaction across divides, and enables knowledge to flow freely in society, facilitating cultural development. New opportunities arise, accommodating multiple perspectives, cooperation and innovation towards global sustainability.

These opportunities are under threat from powerful and influential organisations with a vested interest in enclosing the commons, pre-empting this vision. The document elaborates on the opportunities and threats, and presents a guide to securing a sustainable knowledge society. Rights of citizens are stated alongside technical implications and requirements for legal reform. Education and access to knowledge are highlighted as priority areas for strategic action and policy intervention.

This is also an open invitation to rise to the challenges of our time in a spirit of cooperation, sharing and collaborative action.


Global Concerns


  • climate change
  • biodiversity
  • pollution
  • water


  • poverty
  • financial crisis


  • health
  • peace and security
  • education


  • food security
  • disaster management

Humanity is facing unprecedented challenges in terms of sustainability, on a planetary scale. Global economic, social and environmental issues are affecting each and every one of us in real terms. The issues are interrelated and inherently complex requiring attention at international and local levels harmonising diverse perspectives across cultures and divides for innovative sustainable solutions.


At the same time, we are in the midst of a revolution in the way that society's collective knowledge and cultures advance and co-evolve. The Internet, on account of its foundation on open standards, enabling interoperability and higher level innovation, has become a platform for just that. Irrespective of location or persuasion, individuals are collaborating and participating in cultural production and decision making. Ideas and knowledge are flowing freely in ways and on scales never before possible. Such social production has already resulted in software for all to use and adapt, knowledge resources covering all subject areas, and rapid innovation in network environments and practices. Innovative forms of social, economic and political organisation are emerging. This revolution is comparable to that brought about by the printing press.

Today's institutions, industries, structures and conventions will not survive into the future unless they adapt to these realities. Those that embrace change and seize the new opportunities will thrive.


Social equity

Equality and freedom are fundamental principles of democracy, and of a libre culture. A libre culture encourages freedom of expression and civil engagement. The new information and communications technologies enable access to knowledge and higher levels of inclusivity, enriching the diversity of individuals and groups able to contribute and participate.

A libre culture is conducive to innovation and the emergence of new models for citizen engagement in the provision of public goods and services based on a ‘commons’ approach. ‘Governing of the commons’ refers to negotiated rules and boundaries for managing the collective production and stewardship of and access to, shared resources. A libre culture honours participation, inclusion, transparency, universal access, and is fundamental to realising the social and economic potential and sustainability of the commons. A libre culture is not necessarily linked to the state or other conventional political institutions and accommodates multiple self-organising socio-economic systems. Such freedom facilitates social equity, self-determination and social solidarity.

Products and Services Examples

Sotware libre

  • software development
  • systems integration
  • support services
  • migration services
  • documentation and training

Libre knowledge resources

  • Learning resources
    • learning design
    • accreditation
    • teaching
  • Libre publishing
    • Open Access Journals
      • e.g. PLOS
        • publication fees

Libre cultural resources

  • Net labels
  • Nanocasting
    • self-regulation.

Economic innovation

The commons and associated connected and collaborating communities extend “the economy” with an important source of value for all sectors through social production.

The financial crisis has exposed severe limitations and flaws in some of the most dominant contemporary economic models. Libre culture, an extension of the ethically founded free software movement, demonstrates alternative ways of doing business which may be inherently more sustainable. Production is based on crafts or trades where the producers retain control of the production and delivery processes and are freed from intermediaries. Knowledge, education and innovation are democratised, and production is driven by autonomous initiative and solidarity. Communities self-organise and self-govern. Exchange occurs according to each person’s abilities and offerings to service mutual needs. Earnings are distributed fairly according to the work carried out.

In general, artists, researchers, authors and producers of other cultural and knowledge resources are the primary subjects of concern in this charter.

For knowledge and cultural production, community-driven social economy models are already providing a number of increasingly viable options for enterprises which use and sustain the digital commons.

The GNU/Linux operating system, the countless libre software utilities and applications, the associated innovative enterprises and communities attest to the viability of these models. Beyond software, on the level of knowledge, Wikipedia, WikiEducator, Open Courseware, Connexions, other OER initiatives, libre licensed Net Labels, shareable access publications and many other examples show that innovative models, in tune with the values and aspirations of a libre culture, are equally viable.

The models vary according to the types of products and services required or offered. For example, the investment and services required to produce and deliver a full length feature film or documentary differ from those required for an online collaboratively (and continually evolving) encyclopaedia. The first may require significant up-front investment and tight management of the production process and continuity by teams with well defined skills profiles. The second relies primarily on the energy of volunteers with specific knowledge in their diverse areas of interest working relatively independently without expectations on time lines; continuity is only required within each article (or small set of related articles), and consistency is achieved via a simple set of guidelines.

The models also vary in maturity from “experimental” to established de facto standard practices.

Investment and Revenue Streams
Non-monetary donations & exchange
  • gifts
  • time banking
  • barter

Direct financing

  • subscriptions
  • donations, awards, grants
    • general or specific use
      • e.g. infrastructure
  • public funding
    • basic incomes
    • subsidies
    • contracts & commissions

Shared capital

  • matching funds
  • cooperatives
  • crowd funding
  • open capital
  • community investment
  • collective investment
Reciprocal service exchange
  • time banking


  • Peer-to-peer banking

Private funding

  • venture investment
  • shares
  • private patronage
  • business investment

Commercial activities

  • products
  • services

Cost reduction

  • peer production
  • disintermediation
    • e.g. p2p and low cost streaming

Common principles of the more successful approaches include an emphasis on community building, diversity of service offerings, disintermediation and establishing multiple sources of investment and revenue streams to reduce dependencies.

Combinations of these options are increasingly viable both for independent producers and the content industry as a whole with clear benefits for society.


Terms to avoid or use with care

Intellectual property ...

The term “intellectual property” carries a hidden assumption—that the way to think about all these disparate issues is based on an analogy with physical objects, and our conception of them as physical property.


To avoid spreading unnecessary bias and confusion, it is best to adopt a firm policy not to speak or even think in terms of “intellectual property”.

Piracy ...

If you don't believe that copying not approved by the publisher is just like kidnapping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word “piracy” to describe it. Neutral terms such as “unauthorized copying” (or “prohibited copying” for the situation where it is illegal) are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as “sharing information with your neighbor.”

In spite of these opportunities, powerful players in the entertainment industry, among communications service providers and centres of political power, persist with outmoded strategies and business models based on property, ownership and contracts associated with rivalrous resources. Digital resources are non-rivalrous. If you give me a copy, you still have have yours, and, where applicable, we can now collaborate on enhancing the resource. Forms of exclusive appropriation and enclosures of culture and knowledge have already emerged under the control of restrictive monopolies or oligopolies, often with the support of ill-advised governments, or misguided international agencies and organisations.

To maintain and grow their power base or sources of profit, these parties seek to perpetuate the illusion of scarcity and enforce control of the Internet and its users. Strategies include use of terms such as “piracy” and “intellectual property”, lobbying for legislation and support for the development of tools to control society and create artificial scarcity of digital cultural and knowledge resources.

These practices severely undermine the potential of an inclusive and sustainable knowledge society. Restricting the flow of knowledge in society stifles innovation and suppresses socio-cultural evolution. Citizens become disempowered in terms of their ability to respond to and participate in the global knowledge society. Citizens' rights to education, access to information, culture, science and technology, freedom of expression, inviolability of communications and privacy are compromised. Protection of private interests is put above the public interest, holding back the development of society in general.

This charter calls for education of policy makers. It calls for policy and legal reform which promotes, enables and supports a libre knowledge society and all that it entails. Reforms which empower and enable citizens to participate in co-creating a sustainable knowledge society.


Three intersecting circles representing economy, society and environment showing how sustainability involves cooperation at the point where they all intersect.
Definitions of sustainability often refer to the "three pillars" of social, environmental and economic sustainability[1]
Ultimately, this charter speaks to sustainable development – “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”[2], taking care of the interactions among social, economic and environmental concerns.

As the ethics and principles of diversity, transparency, fairness, cooperation and sharing permeate society, connectedness and interdependence become clear.

Three circles enclosed within one-another showing how both economy and society are constrained by environmental limits
Another representation of sustainability showing how both economy and society are constrained by environmental limits[3]

Given the current context, all our policy making, law making, decision making and actions need to be performed in cognisance of the inter-connectedness of society in terms of socio-economics and natural resources.

Widespread adoption of the principles and establishment of the foundations for a libre culture outlined in this charter are vital steps towards sustainability.

We urge governments, policy makers, major players in the public, private and civil sectors, and fellow citizens, to appreciate the value of the commons and of social production, and to recognise the potential of libre communities for innovation and collaborative action towards sustainability on all levels. We urge reform and development of policy which supports and encourages a libre culture; policies which enable and empower citizens to engage in the emerging knowledge society with the freedom to innovate in terms of how they do so.

A concise guide to establishing the foundations necessary to safeguard the opportunities of a libre knowledge society and to facilitate and enable realisation of the potential follows.

Education and Access to Knowledge


Freedom to learn and knowledge for all towards collective wisdom for a sustainable world


in its broadest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another.

Learning is a life long process of social construction of meaning. We learn together by sharing knowledge, experience and cultural nuances. Access to knowledge is a pre-requisite for learning. Culture evolves as knowledge permeates society. Education involves a wide range of educational actors, technologies, entities and activities, including public and private education, formal and informal life-long learning activities. Our mission for education is to foster a culture of sharing and educational innovation that is efficient and sustainable:

Libre Mission

Enabling communities to empower themselves with knowledge

A foundation on libre knowledge enables a free culture to flourish in which citizens may participate in realising the vision.

Free cultural values include

  • Social inclusion, participation and empowerment of all people in our society.
  • Access to knowledge and educational resources and technology.
  • Sharing and cooperation to help each other and our communities.
  • Diversity of culture and perspectives.
  • Collaboration and innovation to find appropriate and sustainable solutions.

To achieve this, we urge actions and policy intervention in the following areas.


Imitation is innate. Copying, adapting, applying and sharing knowledge are core activities of any educational process. A libre culture encourages these activities while many educators suppress them due to a lack of awareness of the options available (e.g. libre licensing). To support and raise awareness among educators and learners we urge educational institutions and communities to:

  • Formulate, promote and implement policy which emphasises freedom among educators and learners to innovate, and to collaborate in the production of shared learning resources.
  • Support activities and provide resources to raise awareness and understanding of the sharing culture and its technical and legal enablers.
  • Showcase good practices and case studies to inspire and guide new projects and approaches.


Education is a primary channel for developing our citizens and for achieving societal progress. We acknowledge the important role of educators to transfer the values of a sharing culture while facilitating learning. To perform this role effectively, educators need support in becoming exemplars who routinely use free software and libre knowledge in their work, and engage in peer production of learning resources.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

To so empower educators we urge institutions and leaning communities to:

  • Assure training and technical support for educators in the use of software libre and in the use, modification (e.g. localisation), collaborative development and sharing of libre knowledge resources.
  • Ensure educators are able to dedicate part of their time to learn, maintain, author and share learning resources, and thereafter reap the benefits of peer production (e.g. efficiency and quality).
  • Introduce reward mechanisms which evaluate and recognise contributions in educational peer production.
  • Stimulate and support networking and community building among educators and learners so that they can help each other. Connect them to existing networks and encourage the establishment of new communities, perhaps with local relevance.

Learning resources

Access to knowledge and learning resources is an essential enabler of education. Adapting resources for a specific classroom is always required. Libre resources facilitate access and localisation and cater for cultural diversity. Quality improves through use of the resources as educators and learners collaborate on refining them. Efficiency is maximised through reuse of learning designs and other resources which may or may not require modification. We urge educational institutions, learning communities and educators to:

  • Encourage the release of existing and new learning resources into the public domain, or under libre licenses which encourage sharing and collaborative development.
  • Similarly, release publicly funded materials into the public domain or under a libre license without legal and technical restrictions on use, modification or sharing.
  • Ensure multiple distribution channels:
    • Through the Internet, using well structured, open standards compliant protocols, and easy to use repositories.
    • On other media such as CD/DVD or printed copies (e.g. using existing university-based publishers) available in public libraries and other facilities available to all citizens.
  • Emphasise that libre knowledge resources may be modified as required for universal access; i.e. adapted to be accessible to all irrespective of social class, educational level, language, ethnicity, background, physical challenges, etc..
  • On a needs-driven basis, initiate and support projects to make the required modifications to specific resources for (or preferably by) specific groups.

Scientific and academic knowledge

Shareable access publications provide access to the results of scientific research. The sharability of these resources enhances learning opportunities and enables knowledge transfer within and across disciplines among parties who may not otherwise have discovered each other.

In order to streamline scientific production and peer review, strengthen the dynamics of scientific debate and the immediacy and quality of feedback, we urge universities, research centres and other educational institutions to:

  • Adapt their policies on research so that they recognise the benefits of sharing.
  • Embrace a shareable access model for the publication of research results.
  • Establish facilities to streamline archiving and sharing of resources by researchers, including data, analyses and results.
  • Stimulate and inspire innovative ways of supporting peer production and release of reviewed materials by educators, learners, libraries and publishers.
  • Refrain from applying for patents on the results of publicly funded research.
  • Irrevocably release patents held by public institutions under royalty-free terms and free of any other restrictions.
  • Release research data sets into the public domain or under libre licenses without compromising ethical concerns (e.g. privacy).

Educational innovation

The role of the teacher is becoming a facilitator of learning, rather than the “sage on the stage”. With the mainstreaming of learner-centred approaches, the distinction between learner and teacher is becoming blurred. We are all teachers and learners. New technologies are being introduced into education (e.g. community networks, laptops, mobile phones, and other devices), enabling innovative approaches. Connecting libre communities enables the benefits of peer production (e.g. efficiency and quality), and by connecting a diversity of perspectives, creates ideal conditions for educator and learner led innovation. Thus, we urge educational institutions and communities to:

  • Incentivise and reward inter-institutional collaborative work between teachers and students in the production of knowledge.
  • Encourage student involvement in peer learning and social production of learning resources.
  • Share credit between educators and students with respect to such social production and educational innovation.
  • Promote inter-institutional collaborative and multi-disciplinary work among educators in different fields.

Recognition and certification

New forms of technology-enhanced and collaborative learning are emerging and spreading throughout the formal and informal education systems. Resources produced and knowledge acquired through alternative channels, need to be recognised and assessed. Thus, we urge educational institutions and authorities to:

  • Establish accreditation schemes for peer produced libre knowledge resources which are not necessarily associated with any particular institution.
  • Adapt institutional policies to permit use and co-development of such accredited resources.
  • Institute assessment and recognition of knowledge and skills acquired through alternative channels (e.g. self-learning with libre knowledge resources which are not necessarily associated with any particular institution).
  • Integrate these practices with official and existing educational curricula.

Software, standards and policy

Software libre enables transparency of information processing. It stimulates local ICT industries in “developing” countries by enabling self-determination and independence from multi-national companies with limited capability to service local needs. There is cooperation on improving the core software while participants service their clients with customisation and other services. The use of libre standard file formats and protocols ensures technical interoperability, stimulates innovation and competition on a level playing field for products and services, enables platform independent access to digital information, and facilitates availability of knowledge and learning now and into the future.

In education, software libre encourages experimentation with alternatives and the learning of concepts, as opposed to being intensively “trained” in the use of a specific piece of proprietary software with no awareness of alternatives or opportunities to delve deeper into the workings of the program. Above all, use of software libre is consistent with the free culture values that we wish to transfer to successive generations in the emerging libre knowledge society.

Thus we urge educational institutions and learning communities to (as a matter of policy):

  • Use software libre learning tools in all subjects, administration systems and as a basis for their ICT infrastructure.
  • Support projects to further develop these tools.
  • Offer software libre as a subject in itself.
  • Release all software developed in an educational environment and/or publicly funded under a libre license.
  • Promote the use of software libre in textbooks to perform computer-assisted learning activities such as arithmetic, algebra, numerical calculus, image editing, document composition, mapping, spatial analysis, visualisation, simulation, tests, etc.
  • Develop, provide and promote software libre for education[4].
  • Adhere to libre and open standards in general but particularly those pertaining to education and the sharing of learning resources (e.g. IMS[5], SCORM[6], ...).
  • Reject restricting technologies such as DRM to assure long term access to learning resources and the freedom to adapt and share them.

Freedom and Public Knowledge

As digital communication and the Internet become pervasive and an integral part of public services provision, all citizens have the right to have at their disposal the technology, systems, products and infrastructures that enable access. Many countries have other priorities or sources of “unfreedom” (sensu Sen, 1999[7]) to address first, such as lack of nutrition, water, health, education, equality, …, before universal access to the Internet becomes relevant to all their citizens. Nevertheless, the most efficient and sustainable way to bridge the divides is to free society to participate.

This section presents citizens' rights and the required technical, public policy and legal foundations of a libre knowledge society. Required services and service levels on the part of network service providers are also touched upon. We urge governments and international agencies to develop and implement policy which protects these rights and lays the foundations.


Citizens have the right to:

  • browse the Internet and access resources anonymously
  • know in advance how their personal information is to be used
  • decide at any time to move, modify or remove their user data from any online service
  • protect their privacy and encrypt their communications
  • not receive unsolicited messages.

Net Freedom, Services and Regulation

In a libre knowledge society:

  • Civil society and public administrations are free to provide and implement network services, most notably standards compliant services which don't impose conditions on citizens.
    • Connection is possible with one's choice of hardware and with software libre.
  • Net neutrality is guaranteed. Within the network there are no restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, or on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, or on the modes of communication allowed, provided such communication does not significantly degrade other traffic.
  • Internet access providers offer symmetrical connections or a reasonable download/upload ratio. Broadband access is a universal service for all citizens.
  • Citizens are protected against unfair practices by monopolies in telecommunications infrastructures and service provision. Citizens have the right to have access to more than one provider (public or private) and that the offer of this service is not subject to the acquisition of other products or services. Citizens are free to establish new providers.
  • Network providers fulfil agreed-upon access speeds. In pre-payment contracts, only the traffic explicitly transferred or demanded by the user are charged. Providers always offer users a flat rate tariff system.

Public Administration

In a libre knowledge society:

  • Public sector, publicly funded projects and those that commit citizens by law or in a manner affecting their fundamental rights, require a level of transparency only possible with software libre and open standards. When an open standards compliant software libre solution does not exist, a project to develop the software and/or standard is initiated. In the interim only solutions that are publicly auditable are used in order to guarantee transparency.
  • The results of development funded by public money are always licensed under a libre license, and all developed patents are released under royalty free terms and free of any other restrictions.
  • Governments guarantee non-exclusive free Internet access to every citizen independently of their places of residence, at least to the level required to access public services, exercise their rights as citizens, and take part in the knowledge society.

Software Procurement in public administration

In a libre knowledge society:

  • Public procurement processes for software evaluate the total costs, including support and change management, and the costs of stopping the use of the software and migrating to alternative systems. The investment required to develop a software libre solution where none exists is included in these assessments.
  • Accounting of public ICT expenditure indicates investment in hardware separately from software costs including licenses, maintenance, support and other services.

Legal Reform

We have identified shortcomings in national regulations and international treaties regarding the dissemination of culture and knowledge, in both private, contractual relations and international public policy. We suggest reforms necessary to overcome these problems. The conservative and defensive behaviour of the content production and distribution industries has led to a situation where creators and their audiences are pitted against each other. This conflict benefits largely the media conglomerates and government organisations by giving them control over global flows of information at the expense of citizens (users and producers of the information). This is detrimental to the public interest.

In this context the public interest is best served by supporting and ensuring continued creation of intellectual and cultural works of significant societal value, and to ensure all citizens have unfettered access to such works for a wide variety of uses.

Reverse three-step test

Innovation, creativity, and access to knowledge may only be limited or constrained when and if the three conditions below are met simultaneously:

  1. exceptional circumstances of public interest;
  2. when methods are used that do not undermine or discriminate against the general use, modification and sharing of knowledge, creative works and technology infrastructures, services and software;
  3. when such restrictions do not violate human and civil rights in the information society and are not otherwise inconsistent with a libre culture.

Knowledge commons and public domain

Non-copyrightable Works:

  1. Laws, government reports, political documents and speeches, or regulatory compliance information should be in the public domain, or released under libre licenses where public domain is not an immediate option.
  2. Sui generis database rights should not be introduced, and should be repealed in jurisdictions where they exist.

Public domain Works:

  1. There has to be a guarantee that all public domain works are accessible.
  2. Every jurisdiction should allow a work to be released directly in the public domain prior to the expiry of the general copyright term.
  3. The results of developments funded by public money should always be licensed under a libre license and all developed patents should be released under royalty free terms and free of any other restriction.
  4. Research funded through educational institutions should be published on a libre or shareable access model. Policy makers should implement the recommendations of the Paris Accord[8] on scholarly publishing.

Licensed Works:

Every legal system should facilitate and promote libre and open licensing to the same extent as proprietary licensing.

Orphaned Works:

There should be freedom to use a copyrighted work if the copyright owner cannot be located after a due diligence search.

Freely available Works:

There should be no restriction on the freedom to access, link to and index any work that is already freely accessible to the public online, even if it is not under a libre or open license.

Proprietary Works:

Copyright term should not exceed the minimum Berne term. In the longer term, we support the reduction of existing copyright terms. Copyright terms that are too long do not benefit artists, authors, their audiences or readers, citizens, or society.

Access to technology and net neutrality

  1. Internet access is essential for learning and for the practical and meaningful exercises of freedom of expression, communication and participation in the knowledge society.
  2. Citizens and consumers are entitled to an Internet connection that enables them to send and receive content of their choice, use services and run applications of their choice, connect hardware and use software of their choice that do not harm the network.
  3. Citizens and consumers are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of any form of discrimination - whether blocking, limiting or prioritising - with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address.
  4. IP addresses of citizens and consumers are potentially identifiable data and the data subject has a right of access to correct, delete, or prevent the transfer of their personal information.
  5. Filtering of Internet content is a threat to fundamental rights, and is an invalid, ineffective and disproportionate solution for enforcement. No limitation or filtering should be carried out without a prior judicial ruling.
  6. Citizens are entitled to access to a free, unlicensed band of the spectrum for digital communications, such as the analog TV range and, in general, at least a 25% of any new range of the spectrum that is released in its current use.

Rights in a digital context

Author rights, patents, royalties and similar creativity incentives should not be considered as ends in themselves, but rather as mechanisms to promote public interest, innovation, access to science, technology and the arts.

Right to quote:

Quotation, defined as the extraction of a part of, but not the entirety, of a work must be defended in all cases as a vehicle for the democratic development of the information society. This must apply in all cases in which the material quoted has already been made public in advance, whether it is quoted for educational or scientific reasons, or for purely informational, creative purposes or any other purpose.

Private copying:

  1. The rights of the individual in the private sphere and for personal use should not be undermined by the exclusive rights of the author.
  2. There is no need for a copyright holder to authorise or be compensated for any reproduction, in any form, when dealing with works that have already been made public, when the reproduction is done for private use or sharing and when no direct or indirect economic profit is obtained from it.

Fair use:

  1. There should be no requirement to seek an author’s permission for the reproduction or dissemination of artistic, scientific or technical works that have already been presented publicly, when the purpose is educational, scientific research, information, satirical or incidental to the principal creative objective, as long there is attribution and all moral rights are respected.
  2. The defence of the right to private copying and fair use of works should be firm and absolute, given that copying is the very basis for learning and culture. Authors/creators are indebted to shared culture and for this reason their contributions to culture should not be subject to any form of compensation beyond commercial use of their work (sales, fees and royalties related to said sales or performances).
  3. There should be a strong emphasis on defending the right to information.
  4. There should be a strong emphasis on preserving the right to parody.
  5. In addition, we subscribe to the delineated list of fair uses compiled in “Article 3-1 - General Limitations and Exceptions to Copyrights” of draft document Access to Knowledge 2005.
  6. Remedies should be limited to proven monetary damages for actual counterfeiting. Lost sales and statutory damages cannot be applied to private copying and personal use. Injunctions shall not be issued if they constitute a prior restraint.
  7. Non-Original or Creative Works: Facts and Works lacking in creativity (“a de minimus quantum of creativity”) should not be subject to copyright or copyright-like protections.

Freedom to innovate:

Freedom and innovation are strongly related. Repressive legal regimes that reduce freedom also tend to harm innovation. People need the freedom to change, modify, improve and test inventions, devices, and systems, and to freely engage in critical speech regarding such innovations.


Refer to A2K draft, Part 4.

Stimulating creativity and innovation

We declare our concern for the well-being of artists and authors. We therefore propose various methods for collectively rewarding artistic creation and innovation with the following criteria:

  • There should be diverse sources of support for creative communities including commercial use, direct fiscal support by consumers and public investment
  • In order to promote the fare remuneration of artists, the role of intermediaries should all be limited. The role of currently existing intermediaries should be reduced to critical functions such as collecting usage data and the just distribution of remunerations to authors.

Author rights and royalties distribution:

  1. Creators should receive a fare reward for their work. In works where Royalties cannot be guaranteed in a reasonable quantity and time, fees should be guaranteed. The objective should be the creation of a stable employment environment in the cultural industry that would not necessarily be totally dependent on the ups and downs of royalties.
  2. Differences in bargaining power produce unfair outcomes between creative individuals and the commercial entities that invest in, market and/or sell culture and knowledge goods and lead to many creative works being withheld from the public. Authors/creators should be paid equitably for the activity they are involved in, whether or not they are members of a collecting society. Unfair contracts between authors and publishers should not be enforced by courts. Within 30 years of signing a contract with a publisher or employer, the author or her heirs should have an opportunity to regain the rights to the work under copyright. This shall not affect the validity of any existing licenses to use works, or open licenses to use works granted to the public, including those which have conditions that protect the commons.
  3. When there is commercial exploitation of a work, rules regarding economic rights should protect the economic interests of creative communities, and ensure that third parties such as distributors do not prevent creative communities from having a fair share of the rewards, including fair royalties for creative persons.
  4. All “digital levies” that indiscriminately sanction everybody in the name of “compensation for artists” and that attempt to penalise activities that are in no way criminal should be abolished.

Royalties management and collecting societies:

  1. Authors/creators shall always be able to revoke the mandate of the collecting societies.
  2. Collection societies are private entities that only and exclusively manage the “accounts” of their members which are never the entire creative community.
  3. Free competition should be permitted as with all private entities. Legal monopolies for collection societies should be abolished.
  4. Authors and editors should not be represented by the same entity, as in the days of vertical organisations.
  5. Above all, collection societies should only collect money and manage works that are registered with the collecting society, and should not collect money for uses of works that are explicitly licensed under free licences. No collection society should be allowed to prevent artists or authors from using free licenses.

Access for works for persons with reading disabilities

When accessible formats of works for persons who have reading disabilities are created under copyright limitations and exceptions, the global legal systems should enable cross border import and export of such works.


In order to avoid the breach of any fundamental rights (e.g. invasion of privacy, freedom of expression, etc.) there is a need for transparency in enforcement. This must include information on the authorities in charge of the law’s application and on the nature of the obligatory procedures. The government should ensure, through a transparent and public process, the existence of systems of evaluation of how the norms are applied. The results published by the independent experts hired for the evaluation (see – database directive) should be taken into consideration in the norm-setting process. A meaningful way to ensure the transparency process is to have obligatory transparency audits.

We are promoting a three strikes systems for violators of the public right to be informed. There is a public interest in transparency of lobbying activities. A transparent process in national and international norm setting needs to include at least:

  1. Public access to documents related to this process, the possibility to attend meetings (including via the Internet) and to be to able to read the meeting minutes. These minutes will include the names of the attendees, advisers, and the casted votes.
  2. Details on the persons that are making the decisions.
  3. Meaningful opportunities to submit comments to the norm-setting process. The comments from all the contributors shall be made public. A dialogue between all parties is necessary, especially in responding to comments in writing. Public voices should be part of the public record.
  4. Information on any evidence that is presented to promote or justify policies, including their sources and their reliability. Independent evaluation or peer review of data relevant to the copyright and patent systems is needed.
  5. Democratic access to statistics that are needed to evaluate the way that copyright and patent systems work, including for example the impact of such measures on prices, the royalties that are paid to creators for access to works or the impact on fundamental rights and freedoms.


  1. Adams, W.M. (2006). "The Future of Sustainability: Re-thinking Environment and Development in the Twenty-first Century." Report of the IUCN Renowned Thinkers Meeting, 29–31 January, 2006. Retrieved on: 2009-02-16.
  2. United Nations General Assembly (1987) Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. Transmitted to the General Assembly as an Annex to document A/42/427 - Development and International Co-operation: Environment.
  3. Ott, K. (2003). "The Case for Strong Sustainability." In: Ott, K. & P. Thapa (eds.) (2003).Greifswald’s Environmental Ethics. Greifswald: Steinbecker Verlag Ulrich Rose. ISBN 3931483320. Retrieved on: 2009-02-16.
  4. e.g. eXe and see FLOSS4Edu:
  7. Sen, A. 1999. Development as Freedom, Anchor Books, New York.

Related to education and access to knowledge

Related to politics

Related to legal reform



In general, this term refers to physical access to ICT infrastructure. However, in this document, it is used synonymously with universal access (below).

Berne Convention

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention, is an international agreement governing copyright, which was first accepted in Berne, Switzerland in 1886.


The term broadband can have different meanings in different contexts. In this document, broadband generally refers to high capacity Internet access. The text refers to Recommendation ITU-i113 which defines broadband as a “transmission capacity that is faster than primary rate Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) at 1.5 or 2.0 Megabits per second (Mbits)”.
The term's meaning has undergone substantial shifts as advances in technology permit higher and higher capacities.

Closed standard

A closed standard is a file format, protocol or program which has wide public acceptance, but which does not comply with the requirements for a free/libre or open standard. Examples include file formats or protocols whose specifications are not publicly available, software whose source code is not available, and patent-encumbered technologies. Closed standards are typically developed by private companies with limited public or even industry participation.


The Commons refers to resources that are collectively owned.[1] This can include everything from land to software.[2] The process by which the commons are transformed into private property is often termed enclosure.
In this document, we refer to the digital cultural and knowledge commons, which consist of Internet resources (e.g. texts, sound or video clips, software, etc.) which may be used for any purpose, adapted and shared for collective benefit. Associated communities self-organise to manage the commons, respecting participation, inclusion, transparency and long-term sustainability.

Commons-based peer production

Commons-based peer production is a term coined by Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler to describe a new model of economic production in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated (usually with the aid of the Internet) into large, meaningful projects mostly without traditional hierarchical organization (and often, but not always, without or with decentralized financial compensation). Often used interchangeably with the term social production, Benkler compares commons-based peer production to firm production (where a centralized decision process decides what has to be done and by whom) and market-based production (when tagging different prices to different jobs serves as an attractor to anyone interested in doing the job).

Computer Implemented Invention

"an invention whose implementation involves the use of a computer, computer network or other programmable apparatus, the invention having one or more features which are realised wholly or partly by means of a computer program."[3]


Co-opetition occurs when companies work together for parts of their business where they do not believe they have competitive advantage, and where they believe they can share common costs.


A copyleft license is a free license that requires all further distribution with or without modifications to be made under the same conditions.

De facto standard

A de facto standard is a custom, convention, product, or system that has achieved a dominant position by public acceptance or market forces (such as early entrance to the market). De facto standards have not been through rigorous inclusive and participative standardisation processes, and therefore cannot qualify as open or libre standards. Also see Standard (below) for a definition of technical standard.

Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)

In this document we this term as a substitute for Digital Rights Management, a generic term for access control technologies that can be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to try to impose limitations on the usage of digital content and devices.


In economics, disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain: "cutting out the middleman".


Education, in its broadest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another.


See social equity below.


Firmware is software that internally controls various electronic devices.

FLOSS (Free / Libre and Open Source Software)

An acronym covering both free software and open source software. The ethical foundations of the free software definition distinguish it from the open source definition which is grounded in the efficiency of the associated software development methodology and acceptability of the term "open source" in the software industry.

Free cultural works

Free Cultural Works are defined as works or expressions which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose. It also describes certain permissible restrictions that respect or protect these essential freedoms. The definition distinguishes between free works, and free licenses which can be used to legally protect the status of a free work. The definition itself is not a license; it is a tool to determine whether a work or license should be considered "free."

Free culture movement

The free culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify creative works, using the Internet as well as other media for collective benefit. The movement consists of a variety of communities (e.g. free software, free knowledge and free art) who value inclusivity, transparency, social equity, social solidarity and sharing.
The movement objects to overly restrictive copyright and patent laws which they argue hinder creativity and lead to a "permission culture", rather than a free culture.

Free knowledge

See libre knowledge (below). Also see the definition of free cultural works (above) which is essentially equivalent.

Free license

See libre license.

Free software

Free software is software for which users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, as a user you have four essential freedoms:
  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.


Interoperability is the capacity of the information systems, and the procedures to which they support, to share data, export functionality and to possibility to the exchange of information and knowledge between them and their users.

Level playing field

A level playing field is a concept about fairness, not that each player has an equal chance to succeed, but that they all play by the same set of rules. A metaphorical playing field is said to be level if no external interference affects the ability of the players to compete fairly. Although some may view "government interference" to slant the field in reality the level playing field is created and guaranteed by the implementation of rules and regulations. Building codes, material specifications, Open Standards and zoning create a starting point, a minimum standard, --- a "level playing field".


Free as in freedom, as opposed to gratis (free of charge). Specifically, in this document, the adjective implies all the freedoms associated with free software and libre resources: freedom to make copies, to modify and share unmodified or modified versions, and to use them for any purpose.

Libre file format

A libre file format is an open file format which is (additionally) not encumbered by any copyrights, patents, trademarks or other restrictions so that anyone may use it at no monetary cost for any purpose.

Libre hardware

Hardware that is designed and offered in the same manner as software libre. In this document we are referring to computer and networking components.

Libre knowledge

Free/Libre Knowledge can be acquired, interpreted and applied freely, it can be re-formulated according to one's needs, and shared with others for community benefit. In today's world, where knowledge may be captured and shared electronically, this freedom is not automatically preserved, and we elaborate this definition for explicit knowledge:
(explicit) Free/Libre Knowledge is knowledge released in such a way that users are free to read, listen to, watch, or otherwise experience it; to learn from or with it; to copy, adapt and use it for any purpose; and to share derived works similarly (as free knowledge) for the benefit of the community.
Representations of free knowledge must be conveniently accessible for modification and sharing. For example, using Free software and Free file formats.
"Explicit knowledge" is knowledge captured on some medium, usually in a form representable on a computer (e.g. text, sound, video, animation, executable program, etc.).
Users of libre knowledge are free to
(0) use the work for any purpose
(1) study its mechanisms, to be able to modify and adapt it to their own needs
(2) make and distribute copies, in whole or in part
(3) enhance and/or extend the work and share the result.
Freedoms 1 and 3 require free file formats and free software as defined by the Free Software Foundation.

Libre knowledge resource

A libre resource which holds knowledge.

Libre license or free license

A Libre License is a license which grants users the freedom to read, listen to, watch, or otherwise experience the particular work; to learn from or with it; to copy, adapt and use it for any purpose; and to share derived works for the benefit of the community.
Libre licenses include:
More on free licenses at

Libre resource

A libre resource is a (typically digital) resource (such as text, source code, an image, sound, multimedia, etc. or combinations of these) represented on a device or medium in a free/open file format, which is accessible and modifiable with free software, and released under a license which grants users the freedom to access, read, listen to, watch, or otherwise experience the resource; to learn with, copy, perform, adapt and use it for any purpose; and to contribute and share enhancements or derived works.

Libre software

See software libre.

Libre standard (or free standard)

A libre standard is a standard whose specification is publicly available. Users of a libre standard have the same freedoms associated with software libre (below), and the freedom to participate in its development process. The standardisation process typically requires a complete free software reference implementation which demonstrates that it is implementable and renders it usable. A libre standard is not patent-encumbered.

Net neutrality

A principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, or on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, or on the modes of communication allowed, provided such communication does not significantly degrade other traffic.

Open access

Three initiatives in particular have helped grow Open Access - the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, - and are recognised as historical, defining moments in the growth of this movement. There are several definitions of Open Access, see for an introduction and an extensive overview. However, the main requirements for a contribution to be Open Access are:
  1. it removes all price barriers for the users to access it (given the user has an Internet connection) and
  2. it removes enough permission barriers to support all the uses customary in legitimate scholarship. The only constraints an author can pose should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited. These requirements can be defined more precisely as follows.
Open Access contributions are those works that satisfy two conditions:
  1. The author(s) and right holder(s) of such contributions grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship (community standards will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now), whether in print or online.
  1. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in an appropriate standard electronic format is deposited (and thus published) in at least one online repository using suitable technical standards (such as the Open Archive definitions) that is supported and maintained by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving.
See also Shareable access below.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER are learning materials that can be freely used, modified and redistributed. They should be published under a free license, be available in an open standard format and be free of DRM or other restricting devices.

Open file format

An open file format is a file format whose specification is available to the public. The specification is typically maintained by a standards organisation which engages with the relevant industry entities and runs a transparent, participative process to develop the standard specification. Also see libre file format (above).

Open knowledge

The Open Knowledge Definition sets out principles to define the 'open' in open knowledge. The term knowledge is used broadly and it includes all forms of data, content such as music, films or books as well any other type of information.
In the simplest form the definition can be summed up in the statement that "A piece of knowledge is open if you are free to use, modify, and redistribute it". For details read the latest version of the full definition.

Open source software

Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:
  1. Free Redistribution: The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.
  2. Source Code: The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.
  3. Derived Works: The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.
  4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code: The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.
  5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups: The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
  6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavour: The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavour. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.
  7. Distribution of License: The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
  8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product: The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.
  9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software: The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.
  10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral: No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.

Open standard

There are various definitions of Open Standards, such as the definitions in the European Commission's European Interoperability Framework (EIF), the motion B 103 of the Danish Parliament, the definition by Bruce Pehrens, the definition developed by the SELF Consortium, the one by the Spanish Estandares Abiertos, the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure's recommendations on the EIF 2.0 and the Free Knowledge Institute. Aligned with the above initiatives, we understand Open Standards as follows.
The following are the minimal characteristics that a specification and its attendant documents must have in order to be considered an open standard:
  1. The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organisation, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties (consensus protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector or majority decision etc.).
  2. The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available either freely or at a nominal charge. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute and use it for no fee or at a nominal fee.
  3. The intellectual property - i.e. patents possibly present - of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis.
  4. There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.
  5. However, the first condition does not have to be fulfilled in the case that a complete reference implementation of the specification exists in Free Software (a.k.a Open Source or Libre Software), i.e. under a license approved by either the FSF or OSI.

P2P (Peer To Peer)

P2P (Peer To Peer) refers to a network architecture in which each node in the network may communicate directly with any other without having to go through a central hub. The nodes may share resources such as disk storage space, processing power and bandwidth). One advantage of this architecture is the possibility of distributing the load when transferring many large files potentially to more than one destination in the network. Bottlenecks in the network are reduced as parts of files find their way to their destination(s) via different routes. The parts are reassembled on arrival.
"Peer-to-peer file sharing networks have inspired new structures and philosophies in other areas of human interaction. In such social contexts, peer-to-peer as a meme refers to the egalitarian social networking that is currently emerging throughout society, enabled by Internet technologies in general."

Paris Accord

The Paris Accord is an ongoing effort to negotiate an agreement between creative communities and the public. Such an agreement would include recognition of (and suggestions for improving) (1) access to and (2) income for the knowledge goods produced by creative communities.


See Sofware patent (below) and Computer implemented invention (above).

RAND standard

A RAND standard is a standard developed under RAND licensing conditions. Reasonable and Non Discriminatory Licensing (RAND) is a term for a type of licensing typically used during standardisation processes. The normal case is that when joining the standardisation body, companies agree that if they receive any patents on technologies which become essential to the standard then they agree to allow other groups attempting to implement the standard to use those patents and they agree that the charges for those patents shall be reasonable. RAND licenses allow a competitive market to develop between multiple companies making products which implement a standard.

Recognition of prior learning

Standards and procedures to assess and evaluate knowledge acquired by means other than formal education or certified training courses, including work/life experience and self-learning with libre knowledge resources, etc.


Rivalrous goods are goods whose consumption by one consumer prevents simultaneous consumption by other consumers. In contrast, nonrivalrous goods may be consumed by one consumer without preventing simultaneous consumption by others. Digital resources (or goods) are by nature non-rivalrous as identical copies can be.


A legal remedy (also judicial relief) is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes some other court order to impose its will.


Services include human actions to 'service' the needs of fellow citizens. These may be gratis or professional services such as training, support, custom software development, etc. 'Services' also refers to network or web services which are automated services delivered by computer programs via the web or virtual private networks (etc.). These involve interaction among computers and humans.

Shareable access

Shareable access indicates that a resource may be accessed anonymously without restriction on making copies and sharing. The resource bears a license which is no less restrictive than the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license. In some cases, the resource will be released in this way on a web site some months after its original publication in a (usually) printed journal.

Social equity

Social Equity implies fair access to livelihood, education, and resources; full participation in the political and cultural life of the Community; and self-determination in meeting Fundamental Needs.

Social production

In this document we use the term “social production” as a synonym for commons-based peer production (above).

Software auditing

Auditing of software includes the revision of code, the modification of code, the compilation of code and the execution of the code. Auditing of software must include the auditing of the tools on which such software is based (compilers, libraries, operative systems on which it runs, etc.)

Software libre/free software

An alternative term for "free software" used in this document to make it clear that we mean free as in freedom (as opposed to free of charge). A more precise definition appears above under free software.

Software Patent

A patent intended to prevent others from using some programming technique.
There is intense debate over the extent to which software patents should be granted, if at all.


In this document we mean "social solidarity", an ethic of collaboration in freedom, recognising our interconnectedness and interdependence.


In this charter, the term refers to technical standards. A technical standard is an established norm or requirement. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices.
Also see: closed standard, de facto standard, libre standard, open standard, and RAND standard.

Sui generis database right

In European Union law, a database right is a legal right, introduced in 1996. Database rights are specifically coded (i.e. sui generis, or standalone) laws on the copying and dissemination of information in computer databases.


Sustainability, in a broad sense, is the capacity to endure. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which in turn depends on the wellbeing of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources.

Technological Neutrality

Technological neutrality is the right of the citizens and the administrations to not be discriminated because its rightful choosing of IT applications when these applications use open standards to interoperate.

Three Steps Test

Members shall confine limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to certain special cases which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder.

Universal access

Accessible to all irrespective of social class, educational level, language, ethnicity, background or physical challenges.

Vested interest

A special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to one's own personal advantage.

  1. Reclaiming the Commons, David Bollier, Boston Review, 2003
  2. 'The Commons', Free Software Magazine
  3. Computer-Implemented Inventions (CII) cited at (2009/12/7).


  • Participants in the Free Culture Forum 2009
    • please add and elaborate ... e.g. if specific individuals, organisations, etc. are worthy of special recognition ....


This Charter is published under a dual license; you can republish under either one or both of these licenses: