Week 24: Free Art License

[Scott]: So Steven and Antoine, are you guys both connected?

[Antoine]: Yeah, it works yes.

[Scott]: That might be kind of crazy.

[Steven]: We have two computers on here just in case.  Actually, we have three.  So we're like kind of...

[Scott]: Reverbing like crazy?

[Steven]: Yeah but I'm turning the sound off on two of them so we'll just be... Okay, we're all set.

[Scott]: Awesome.  Well, um, I know a few people are still being rung up on Skype.  But anyway, welcome everybody.  We're about fifteen minutes past six and we're getting rolling.  Welcome to another week of Plausible Artworlds.  We're going to be talking with Antoine Moreau about Free Art License.  Antoine, am I pronouncing your last name correctly, Moreau?

[Antoine]: Yeah.

[Scott]: Awesome.

[Steven]: Oh sorry.  Antoine, that sounds good to me.

[Antoine]: Yes, that's right.  Moreau.

[Scott]: Great.  So...

[Steven]: You know Scott, I think we're probably going to be talking about two different but linked things. One is of course the Free Art License and the other is the kind of The Collective, which is behind drafting and supporting that license which is called Copyleft Attitude.

[Scott]: Yeah, right.  Okay.

[Steven]: So those are two kind of distinguishable things.  But we're going to kind of ask Antoine to unpack them individually, I think.

[Scott]: Oh, great.  I was curious.  I initially read this text and I think everybody that saw our email announcement and had time to read it, which I'm not assuming was anybody, but so here is the link to the page with that information.  The very first link is a text.  And, there you go.  Yeah.  Anyway, I was curious about that so yeah that will be great to get a better understanding of it.  Steven, did you want to kind of give a bit of and into to this or should we just go ahead and hear directly from Antoine?

[Steven]: I'll just give like a ten second intro.  Um, I got to know Antoine Moreau through the tentacles of the Paris beinalle, which we've talked about before.  But Antoine was kind of on my radar screen and has been for about the last ten years.  About ten years ago he was involved with this group, which I think we should probably start talking with first, called Copyleft Attitude.  The idea, if I understood correctly, was to take some of the attitude of the free and open software movement, of the copy left movement, and to kind of generalize that attitude throughout all forms of creation.  Which kind of in a logical sense through this very important seminar which you guys held ten years ago now in July 2000, so almost exactly ten years ago, which led to the drafting of Free Art License 1.0.  Maybe you could just kind of like, really basically for people who have never heard any of this, tell us how it happened.

[Antoine]: Yes, it was in January 2000 in Paris and the goal was to meet each other, artists (inaudible0:04:20.2) and programmers of the free movement to see if the Copyleft, the idea of Copyleft, was pertinent.  Not only for the software, but for the art works.  And the end of those three days of talking and debates and different point of views we decided, not exactly "we", some of us because some others were not agreed to write a free license for art  A free license lacks a general public license. And some of us did not agree with this because they said that art doesn't need a license, art is a kind of practice which is free.  But, I do think the freedom needs a text, a legal text, to make the work of art free of copy.

[Steven]: Right.  You mean to make sure that it's not privatized by someone.

[Antoine]: Yes.  We could copy, distribute and transform the object.

[Steven]: So, you mean that this whole thing, Free Art License, was actually kind of born from a descensus.  It was an originaly disagreement. Well, a désaccord.

[Antoine]: Yes, between some artists.  Yes.

[Steven]: Could you say something about that because I think that is pretty important.

[Antoine]: Um, it's a way we can have (inaudible 0:06:57.8)...

[Steven]: With respect to the law?

[Antoine]: Yes, but not that we respect the law.  It is to désaccord the law.  And Copyleft désaccords the law.  It is not the negotiation of the law, it is a way of win between the law and to désaccord it.

[Steven]: Like there is the law and so there's no point in pretending that it doesn't exist and that art is free and it can do anything because, in fact, what can happen is that art can be shut down.  It can be privatized; it can be taken away from the people who claimed that it was free in the first place.

[Antoine]: Yeah.

[Steven]: Yeah.  But it's interesting that right at the beginning there was that attitude.  Before we talk about what you did, because obviously that wasn't your position.  Your position was more pragmatic and was more hard-headed, pragmatic and practical.  On the other side there were people like Francis Deck, well it doesn't matter their names, but the people who felt that art was somehow free and needed no license and must never have a license. A romantic idea.

[Antoine]: Yes, I think so.  Yes.  Art is art and it is over everything and it has no relation with this kind of reality.  I do not think this.  Like the general public license is a free software movement and can bring some freedom not by the submitting of the law but in the way of altering the law in the right way. In the left way.

[Steven]: Okay.  Yes.  Retooling the law in the left way.  Yes.  Okay.  So, there was this split within Copyleft Attitude then.  Because copyleft as an attitude everybody agreed but then when it actually came to drafting legal documents, that would be legally binding in all countries that signed the Bern Convention.  Right?  The convention that is legally binding with respect to intellectual property rights in the world.  That was where the break came.  And that was when you said we should, well, what did you do?  You created this...

[Antoine]: We need to not only doing some free objects of art, free works of art which are not free in fact, but we need to write a legal contract to realize a real free work of art.

[Steven]: What do you mean by free exactly?

[Antoine]: Ah, it is really simple.  It is free like free software.  Free to copy, free to distribute, free to transfer and those freedoms can be real by an (inaudible 0:10:43.2) of closed what is open.  When something is copyleft, we can't do it copyright.

[Steven]: Right. So that's the taboo.  There's one big taboo.  You can never privatize what is public.  You can never make private what is...

[Antoine]: Yes, right, right.  And this is the difference between open source and free software.

[Steven]: Can you tell me more about that?  The difference between...

[Antoine]: Open source doesn't, is not copyleft.  Open source doesn't care that what is open can be closed.

[Steven]: Okay.  Okay, so the idea was that with this Free Art License, it would extend and take the idea of free software and extend it to all things that could be described as art.

[Antoine]: Well, art over art.  All things can be protected by the copyright.

[Scott]: Just to clarify, it's not so much extending what exactly happened with, I'm sorry, with free and open source software right?  I mean, open source software is just the most visible and the most successful and the most visible branch, if you will, of the free culture movement.  But many things came out of those movements.  They're not really spawning all from free software right?  Free and open source software, right?

[Steven]: Scott, you're breaking up a tiny bit.  Can you repeat that question?

[Scott]: Oh yeah, and I'll try to be more distinct too.  Just to clarify, we're not talking about...  I know that you were inspired by free and open source software, Antoine, ten years or so ago.

[Steven]: Only free software.

[Antoine]: Only free software.

[Scott]: Not open source, okay.  Well the free software movement.  But we're not talking about something that is an extension of that per say.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that other free cultural projects, as well as free software, come from the free culture movement more generally.  I'm curious how you feel about this.

[Antoine]: Yes.  I don't understand what we call the Frost Movement. Free open source software.  Because the free software can be open source but the good of the copyleft is to protect the freedom.  And there is a difference between the open source where the code source is open and free, yes?  And the copyleft, the code source is open and free but the freedom is protected by the (inaudible 0:14:18.7) to close again the code source.

[Steven]: Yeah, yeah.  The code source. Right.  But what's the difference then between...Well, actually, we're moving ahead a little bit fast.  But just to ask a question, what is the difference between free or licensed and Creative Commons?  For example, it's a share alike license.  It sounds very much the same.

[Antoine]: Yes.  The equivalent of the Free Art License is a license of Creative Commons, share alike by (inaudible 0:15:02.8).  It is the same in fact.  But, the Free Art License is more simple and because it is based on the French author's rights.  We don't need to adapt the license in the country.

[Steven]: Creative Commons is country based?

[Antoine]: Yes.

[Steven]: Okay.

[Antoine]: Creative Commons is based on the copyright act but it is obliged to adapt the license when we want to use it to the law of the countries.  And in the French law, there is a Bern Convention and the chance of the Free Art License it is that we the French, we don't need or have to adapt the license.  So it is more simple.

[Steven]: Okay.  So one thing about the Free Art License that has also attracted some debate, I remember on some occasions, is that it is extremely undiscriminating in terms of what qualifies as art.  I mean, although it comes from a very particular artistic and political culture, the copyleft culture, it agrees that anything that anybody calls are or any group of people calls art can qualify. Right?  So it can be an object.  It can be paintings.  It can be sculptures. It can be immaterial work or very material work.  It can be...

[Antoine]: Yes.  Everything which can be protected by the author's rights. By example, some cooking recopies can be copyleft.

[Steven]: Really?

[Antoine]: Yes (laughing) because it is not protecting by author's right.

[Steven]: Oh really? Recipes are not protected?

[Antoine]: No. So we can't copyleft.

[Steven]: But any kind of a drawing or sounds?

[Antoine]: Yes.  Pictures...

[Steven]: And I understand a great number of works have been protected actually under the Free Art License.

[Antoine]: Yes.

[Steven]: I mean this is not like a project that could happen.  It actually, it's massive.  How many works are we talking about that are protected under it?

[Antoine]: I couldn't say exactly how many because we have some undecided (inaudible 0:18:45.0) of copyleft.  But some (inaudible 0:18:50.8).

[Steven]: Yes.

[Steven]: There's like tens of thousands.

[Antoine]: Yes.

[Steven]: For sure.  And who actually wrote the Free Art License?  Was that you?

[Antoine]: And two lawyers and another artist.

[Steven]: Who is the other artist?

[Antoine]: Isabelle Vodjdani who was very interesting by the way of the artist contract. And the first group of artists I do the meeting of the Copyleft Attitude, there were a journal called (inaudible 0:19:54.4) and they didn't want to write the license.

[Steven]: Okay.  And what do they think now? Ten years on?

[Antoine]: What do they think?

[Steven]: Yeah. Do they agree that they were right to stay away from this?

[Antoine]: No, I don't think they were right.  They don't do free art. They do things each themselves. The movement I expected at the beginning is done by other people that (laughing) that knew at first.  Like other artists and programmers and different people, yes.

[Steven]: And so the Free Art License, if I understand, can be where anybody can simply apply it.  They don't need to go through you; they don't need to ask for authorization.  They simply apply the art license to their work and it applies in any country that is a signatory of the Bern Convention.

[Antoine]: Yes, but you must put a motion, a legal motion which is very simple, which says that the work of art is free. And that's (inaudible 0:21:40.7).

[Steven]: Okay, now what happens...? Supposed you use the Free Art License and then your rights are violated. What happens then? What can you do?  Sorry, I'll let you do this and then I'll ask you a question.  Supposed you use the Free Art License for your work.  And then someone comes and abuses your right, like they tried to privatize it and they break that fundamental interdiction.  What can you do as an artist?  What is your legal recourse?

[Antoine]: We can take them to court.

[Steven]: And this happens?  Has it ever happened?

[Antoine]: No.

[Steven]: It's never happened?

[Antoine]: No.  Never.

[Steven]: But it would be interesting if it happened, to test.

[Antoine]: (Laughing) yes, of course.

[Steven]: Okay, inevitable question Antoine.  I have to ask you this.  Is this Free Art License your art work?  And if so, is it protected under the Free Art License?

[Antoine]: No (inaudible 0:23:00.9) and because...

[Steven]: It's not an art project, it is but not really.

[Antoine]: Yes.  It is not.

[Steven]: I see. In what way is...

[Scott]: I noticed that it, oh sorry.  I noticed it wasn't authored in any way online.  The only kind of thanks that they're giving is to the translators.

[Steven]: That's right.  You didn't sign this.  You're not the author.

[Antoine]: We are four persons.

[Steven]: But, it's true.  I didn't notice...

[Antoine]: But is (inaudible 0:23:43.8) because on the mailing list, some people add us to write it.  It was my position that the Free Artist License was not MY work but a collective work.  Yes.

[Steven]: To come to the collective, the collective that is Copyleft Attitude.  Copyleft Attitude remains extremely active right?  And anybody who is in Paris on the last Thursday night of any month should try and join the regular dinners that are organized by this collective at a restaurant near the canal, what's it called?

[Antoine]: St. Martin.

[Steven]: St. Martin, right. For a sort of informal kind of dinner/debate/discussion around these attitudes.  And when I say that it's a very lively discussion list, I mean, you told me when I got here tonight for example, that when you mentioned you were going to be speaking at Plausible Artworlds at BaseKamp over Skype you immediately received a reaction from one the collective members saying how ironic it is that you would be talking about Free Art License using Skype.

(Antoine]: (Laughing) free software (laughing).

[Steven]: So it's a very reactive list. It's very...yeah.

[Antoine]: Yes.  Every part of different people are on the license.

[Steven]: It's an international list, or primarily French?

[Antoine]: Primarily French.

[Steven]: So, what's the history of Copyleft Attitude?  Where did that come from?  Because it's an older collective right?  It's been around for awhile now.

[Antoine]: Yeah.  

[Steven]: When did you start?

[Antoine]: Ten years.

[Steven]: Oh!  Oh you started and then...

[Antoine]: Yes.

[Steven]: Oh, so the first initiative was Free Art License.  They're really inseparable, the two things.

[Antoine]: The first was (inaudible 0:25:55.7) how do you say? House?

[Steven]: Of the building.  Okay.  Exactly.  The building.  And what are some of the other initiatives which you've done?  What else does Copy Left Attitude do??

[Antoine]: Um, some copyleft sessions, some copyleft demo, some copyleft (inaudible 0:26:16.6).  And everybody is very free to (inaudible 0:26:26.0) to make some things which are not in the art.

[Steven]: What do you mean?

[Antoine]: Uh, some site, some blurbs, some text... Some things, productions of the mind which can be free. And there is a lot of productivity like (inaudible 0:27:05.01).  They are making some festival.  Next Sunday there will be a festival in Paris of free art.  I don't do this but I am (inaudible 0:27:31.8) and they are doing this, yes.

[Steven]: Okay.

[Scott]: Antoine, do you guys have.  I'm curious if there is any, sorry for the reverb, I'm not sure who has their speakers up really loud.  I'll try to ignore that.  Do you have any easily accessible documentation of the work that you guys do?

[Antoine]: About?

[Steven]: Your work.

[Antoine]: About my work?

[Steven]: The work of the...

[Scott]: And the work of Copyleft Attitude.

[Antoine]: Yes, yes.  There is a photo of work and it's not very easy for me to choose the kind of works I could send some are more (inaudible 0:28:25.9) than others.  Maybe by (inaudible 0:28:29.0) I could and show this one.  This one called "Atom Project" and it is a collective work with a lot of photos.  The concept is to take some photos and join and people are putting it...

[Steven]: Okay, I'm going to look at this on my computer.

[Antoine]: Two weeks ago, I did something.  I did a painting in the street.  I was invited by another artist.  I will show you.  It is (inaudible 0:29:53.4).  Zero (inaudible 0:30:03.0) face.

[Steven]: Which means? Okay.  How many people are in Copyleft Attitude?

[Antoine]: On the list we are 400.  It's not easy to...

[Steven]: How many?  400?

[Antoine]: Yes.  

[Steven]: And active members?

[Antoine]: Oh yes, all active. And (inaudible 0:31:09.3) is collective of film makers while doing some films under the Free Art License.

[Scott]: Antoine, what is Atom?

[Antoine]: Atom Project?

[Scott]: Yeah.

[Antoine]: It is a project that a member of Copyleft Attitude did for copyleft and it he did operate camera to people for them to take photos during a day.  Actually more than 12,000 photos.

[Steven]: Okay, so the ones we see here are all taken by the same person.  Maria...

[Antoine]: Yes.

[Steven]: But then we go further down and they're taking by somebody else?

[Antoine]: No.  You must click on participant.

[Steven]: Oh, okay. Wow.  And so who are these people?

[Antoine]: Some friends and some people he met.

[Steven]: And they had no particular, there was no rules.  It was just like "take any pictures of your day".

[Antoine]: Yes.  One of the wake up, and the maximum during the day.

[Steven]: Well I see that he took like 2900 all by himself.  But other people took a lot too.

[Steven]: Are the other people that were involved in (inaudible 0:34:34.7) like, what's the guy's name who has the collection of photographs where he's from.

[Antoine]: Uh, Phillip (inaudible 0:34:44.7)?

[Steven]: Yes, Phillip.  Is he involved in?

[Antoine]: No, it was not agreed. The fact of writing a license and some programs.

[Steven]: (Laughing) so you have a problem with artists is what it sounds like.  I don't mean that sarcastically, you know.  Or only partially sarcastically.  Do you find that is there some reason that artists don't agree with Free Art License?  Some essential reason?  I mean, are they caught up with... Tell me candidly.  What's the issue?  Why would they be against it?  Are they like caught up in the art world market?

[Antoine]: Yeah, I think it's a sort of ideology of art.  There is a kind of ideology of what is art and they are fond of this ideology.  My position is that art is not an ideology, it's a (inaudible 0:36:16.7) is a law. Yes.  And this is a reality.  It's a realizment like (inaudible 0:36:36.8) could paint some paintings and realistic.  The reality of the law. Not submission.  Not out of the law, but real work.  A real fight with the law.

[Steven]: We have a question here from David from Post autonomy.  David do you want to articulate your question because I wouldn't want to have to state it for you.

[David]: Hello.  Can you hear me?

[Scott]: Hi David.  Yes.  Definitely.

[David]: Most of the problems I hear about in the UK in terms of protecting the copyright of particular art works, really comes down to the ability of people to befriend their copyright.  To pay for lawyers, to go to court to protect their works. I've never heard of any artist having problems protecting their work.  Does that make sense?

[Steven]: You mean they don't have problems like people taking their work and then making money off of it.  They have problems...

[David]: No, people have problems niche-ing their ideas for sure.  And it's a very common place, but to prepare to do that in England for artists or students to protect their art works, or the copyright of their art works, costs a lot of money. And I think that's one of the main drawbacks.  As I said before, it's very common place for artists to have their ideas stolen.  People are very conscious of it.

[Steven]: Yeah, I mean, I don't want to answer for Antoine, but I think that is exactly the problem.  I think that's what Free Art License is all about.  It's about making that kind of thing more illegally difficult because it makes it possible for you to take advantage of that work.  To transform it, to exchange it, to make use of it, to engage in a very open user ship but at the same time not enabling you at all to close it down and make money at their expense.

[Antoine]: We can make money with the Free Art License.

[Steven]: But not at the other artist's expense.  Not by saying they can no longer make money right?

[David]: I don't think I was very clear, but I think you get the rough idea what I was trying to say.

[Steven]: I mean, what I was trying to say was that Free Art License makes it possible for other people to use your work that you have put into the public sphere and to modify it or do whatever needs to be done with it.  But it doesn't, one interdiction that you mentioned, the taboo, is that they cannot shut it down.  They cannot say "now it's mine.  I don't care if you Amazonian people use this type of medication for the last 20,000 years, now I as Merc have exclusive rights".

[Antoine]: No.  What is open stays open.  Yes.

(Inaudible, speaking over each other 0:41:17.6)

[Antoine]: But we can make money with this.

(Male Group Member]: After the letter, you want capitalized.

[Steven]: Sorry, we're not hearing you.  Can you say that again?

(Silence and typing noises)

[Steven]: I can't hear you guys.

[Scott]: Well, I mean, let's just assume that if someone wants to repeat the question they can. Or if someone wants to write it down, they can.  We've had a couple of other questions come up in the meantime.

[Steven]: Yeah.  I'm looking at these questions.  Okay.  So Greg says "If some corporation wants to use your work to sell products than they can but then everyone else can use the commercial produced by the corporation for the creative purpose they would like.  Big money loathes this idea" Yeah, that's the idea right?  That's why it's free.  That's what free means in this particular...

[Antoine]: Yes but this free business stays free.  What this business can do, every products are free so everybody can have their turn doing something with these free products.  Like Linux.  Everybody can do their free edition of Linux (inaudible 0:44:14.1).  If I want to do business with Linux I can and there is no problem with other descriptions.  So there is no more brands, we call it distribution.  And I think that for the artist, it's the same.

[Scott]: Uh guys, I think, you know, David said that this doesn't really apply to art in the same way or the formal license doesn't work for art works.  I think it's true that only when art works become really expensive does the legality seem to matter because normally you wouldn't take any recourse.   It just doesn't make sense unless there's a large entity that has a lot of money behind it and you can use it as some kind of landmark case to make a big deal of it.  You wouldn't sue another artist for doing something similar to what you're doing.  That doesn't really happen.  But I don't think that's really the point. I don't think the point is really to, or maybe it is for Antoine, I don't know.  I think it's the idea of creating legal protection more so than the discussions that come out of that than it is actually worrying so much about protecting one's self.

 I see David's concern and it's a concern that a lot of people have because they feel they work really hard and them some younger, or maybe even some older, artist with more developed connections already takes what you do and puts a small gloss on it and gets a lot of exposure. Not only diverting the attention that you deserve but maybe even diverting the ideas or watering them down, the importance of the ideas themselves.  Maybe their taken out of context or made more palpable or easy to swallow.  I think that's really frustrating for a lot of people.  But these questions, I think, are much bigger.  I don't think the answer is "oh well, it sucks that people are stealing my ideas so I really have to protect them".  And I also don't think the answer is "well, we need a legal document so that we can sue somebody if they do something." I think, really, these questions bring about other issues about how we should really do what we do.  About how we should or shouldn't professionalize ourselves as artists.  Basically, who owns what we do?  What's it for?  Are we mainly building this immaterial thing, this sort of nebulous idea of a career, that's so fragile that we need to protect it viciously?  I think that put it down and you can't wish it away so the discussion is really fascinating to me.

[Antoine]: In fact, there are two things.  Copyleft is one contract and to earn money it is another contract.  Here in France we are trying to think about a living wage for everybody, artist or not.

[Steven]: A living wage in this political sense means a wage to which any human being, by virtue of existing on this earth, would be entitled to each month.  And then if you wanted to make more money than that, that would be an option that you would have.  But that living wage would be sufficient already to meet all of your needs.  It wouldn't be welfare.

[Antoine]: Yes.  And I put, the site is under Free Art License. I really think, and some are thinking this, the living wage is the other side of the free movement because to do some free art or some free software, we need free time.  And to have free time, we need to have some money for means to existence.

[Steven]: Means to existence.  Not only to exist but to live.

[Antoine]: The idea is to institute to take a political decision to institute a living wage because the copyleft can't really be the way to very rich.  Even some business can be done with free software.  I think (inaudible 0:50:30.5) art for example, which was the first society which did a lot of money with (inaudible 0:50:42.6).  I knew some here in Paris which are earning some money with free software and only free software, only copyleft software.  But for art or other (inaudible 0:51:03.6) we need to institute a living wage.  I really think it is an oversight of the free movement.

[Steven]: So the fact is that copyleft is really political.  It's not so much really a legal thing as it is a political thing.

[Antoine]: Legal things are political.

[Steven]: Yeah, but it's not legal in the legalistic sense.  It's legal in the sense of the laws in terms of legislation and in terms of a broader political (inaudible 0:51:49.3).  When you (inaudible 0:51:52.2) at this point as Utopian, because in fact, there we are describing conditions that we need to have a human community.  Not like we ever had before. Not talking about serious (0:52:06.7).  What do you mean when it's registered under copyleft?  Is that just on your site or what is the link between the living wage movement and Copyleft Attitude?

[Antoine]: The link is the possibility of freedom.  Of free time, of free exercise, of free meeting, free not to be triggered by the economic necessities.  It's not a Utopia, it's not idealistic.  It's very realistic because the reality of the (0:53:12.5) is awful and it's not realistic kind of wealth.

[Steven]: But I mean the people that are behind the call for living wage, are they some of the same ones that are in Copyleft Attitude?

[Antoine]: Yes.  And the link I (inaudible 0:53:39.9) those are Copyleft Attitude and the text is under Free Art License.

[Steven]: Okay.

[Antoine]: And so there is also another group called Society for Gift to try to find assertion not by other's rights but by gift.

[Steven]: What's that called? The Society for Gifts?

[Antoine]: (inaudible 0:54:28.3) some people of Copyleft Attitude.

[Steven]: Okay.

[Antoine]: On Sunday, there will be the founders of (inaudible 0:55:10.0) we come in Paris about some association we found which is called (inaudible 0:55:25.4) maybe I think you know it.  And (inaudible 0:55:38.1) is very close to the start to find a solution by the gift.

[Steven]: Find some sort of solution but the gift.

[Antoine]: Yes.  To find an economic solution.  To finance (inaudible 0:56:07.7)

(A video is playing in the background - all dialog of Antoine is inaudible 0:56:04.0)

 ...which means free time and we must have some free minutes for this.

[Steven]: I think we have the people from Liter Omble have asked a few questions here, maybe we should take a look.  They say, the thing is, once you give your rights of art work to Free Art License, you cannot claim them back.  Also, if you have the rights of an art work you can set an agreement with the person who wants to use it so they don't have to pay you a fee.  Is that true?  Once you give...

(Speaking fluent French 0:56:58.8 - 0:57:18.0)

[Antoine]: It is like a public domain, but now.  Not after seventy years after my death.  It's a kind of public domain now and ever to be closed.

[Steven]: What Antoine means is that normally copyright is protected until seventy years after the death of the author or the composer or the artist and that after that time, the work reverts to the public domain and can no longer be enjoyed exclusively by any publisher.  Anybody can use it freely.  And what Free Art License does is that it removes the seventy year clause and makes it immediate so that you're still alive and it's like you're dead seventy years ago.  In terms of how you're work can be used, in any case.

But beyond this is something else too.  Something which I didn't understand.  Something about the local laws in France.  Can you guys repeat that question?  Not seventeen, it's seventy.  Ah, here's a good question.  It has to do with Geilan, a proposal that you were involved with a couple years ago.  The public freehold of (inaudible 1:00:00.0).  You need to describe what it is first though.

[Antoine]: I was in touch with Geilan (inaudible 1:00:12.1) and we asked if him if he would agree to put the Free Art, the public free art sentences and the Free Art License because at the beginning it was very free (inaudible 1:00:47.5).

[Steven]: Oh really?

[Antoine]: Yes.  He said "no, I don't want to because there done by me and I don't want it to be where everybody can do it".  So it was a contradiction because at the beginning, it was free.

[Scott]: Well, it's kind of the way free software is often used now.  IT's a strategy for, almost like, I don't know how many of you are familiar with like 1980s Public Service Announcement commercials in the eighties about drug pushers.  It's kind of like "The first ones free Billy! But when you keep coming back for more, we'll start rising up the prices."  Anyway, free software is like that.  Or like Skype or like anything.  Free is a model for making money.  Or it's a model for gaining notoriety or gaining enough usership to basically form a coalition of the willing free beta testers or to sort of prove relevance and then of course it gets a price attached.  You learn it in business school, from what I understand.  Not that I went through business school.  So, I guess I know Lawrence Weiner, I know that's really not his MO, but it's not surprising that once you have something to protect, you do.

(Fluent French dialog between Steven and Antoine 1:02:26.9)

[Antoine]: But free, the free software and the free art.  It is not free as in free beer, but free as in free speech.  It is a great difference.   In French we have two words for this; " libérer" and "gracieux".  It cost something; it cost what we invest in it.  It's not a finical investment, it's a (inaudible 1:03:44.7) it is not free like free beer.  It is free like free speech.

[Female Group Member]: I know that for instance I've done work with PETA.  You know, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  And I know one of the things that they always do is when they have software or anything like that with their logo, none of that is copyrighted at all.  They don't care; they just want to get the point across.

[Steven]: Sorry, we didn't catch that question.

[Female Group Member]: I'm just saying as an example.  You know PETA?  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?  They don't charge people for the copyright and it's pretty much in the public domain because they really don't care who uses it as long as it gets the point across.  That could be one thing also.  An example?

[Antoine]: I think what is important with copyleft the way we can't close what is open.  So it is not the freedom like the libertarian way, it's not a freedom of everything.  It's a freedom for equality and for some kind of fraternity.  It's not of freedom of (inaudible 1:06:19.5) it's not a freedom like your fetish.  It is a freedom for something so that we can copy, distribute and transform something.  It is not for someone who can copyright and say "So now you can't copy, distribute and transfer from what you did and I can't".

[Scott]: What David just said is really exactly what I had meant before.  I was not coming from any place of cynicism or irony, it's just ultimately we need to recognize when...  Well, let's just say to generalize this slightly, any progressive social movement needs to recognize then their strategies are adopted and successfully employed by someone who doesn't share their interested.  A more powerful force.  It's important to recognize that, like you had mentioned, Copyleft Attitude didn't mean free as in free beer but free as in free speech.  I think that (inaudible 1:07:46.5) was super appropriate and it's important to keep in mind.  But I also think that we need to recognize that most of what we see when we see free can easily become free as in free beer.  Free as in free sample.  Or free as in gaining a certain degree of notoriety before whatever kind of fidelity towards a free culture movement.  It really isn't there anymore.  I'm not really sure what should be there anyway.  I think it's just important, at least for me, to recognize that these things don't have ideology built into them or ethics built in.  And because something is free, it doesn't solve all the problems that are built up around it.  It definitely does pose some interesting questions and I think it can be very challenging.  The thing is I think it can lose some of that challenging potential if we rest to heavily just on the fact that it's free.  If you know what I mean.  I sort of hinted here that addressed very much and all I really got in response was we don't mean free as in etc. This is our ideology.  But what about sort of recognizing that the strategy is something that has grown more and more and not just by a few conceptual artists from the sixties but by almost every company who does anything with software and hopes to get the word out about themselves.

(Automated female voice stating "Virus database has been updated")


[Steven]: Yeah but I think, Scott, that you are using free in that sense, you're using it in the sense of free of charge.  And I think that's precisely, if I understood, that's precisely what Antoine is not talking about.

[Scott]: Well, my question is how do you know the difference?  Someone can, you know...

[Steven]: (inaudible 1:09:55.0)

[Antoine]: It is a question of trust and right and the law.  I do think that the law helps the trust.

[Scott]: Right, but law is ambiguous.  Law does not...

[Antoine]: Yes, yes, yes. Law.  Trust.  And this reason why we need to have a contract.  Something in writing to motion to carry.

[Steven]: You're a paradox kind of guy.  You're part of this free movement and most of the time people who are involved in art are anarchists.  You have this sort of crazy respect for the law.

[Antoine]: No, it is not a crazy respect.  It is...

[Steven]: No, but he's like (inaudible 1:10:56.1) he was like that too, right?  It was this kind of always wanting to deconstruct the law, but ultimately always believing that the law was there.

[Antoine]: Ah, I think that.  Yes.  It is not to destroy it.  It is to have a conversation and have a work (inaudible 1:11:18.2) freedom with it.  And I do think that is not freedom for one people or other people if we don't take attention about this.

[Steven]: No, but I see that.  That's kind of the crux of the issue, isn't it?  You can't do with it, but you can't do without it.  So the best thing is to... It's funny because I exactly understand what all you had that rupture right at the beginning.  Because it would be like trying to get (inaudible 1:12:03.8) to be on the same boat together.  One is simply saying "no.  I don't' care about the law there is so many other ways of engaging the world without judging.  And the other one is saying "no, that's just another judgment and you're a victim of the law until you recognize it".

[Scott]: There are definitely important...  I just mentioned Katherine McKenna because she makes almost her entire like is built around trying to answer that question.  You know, why should we care about the law and why should we try to adjust the law as a radical feminist.  It's been really important for her, for example, to do that because the law stifles but it also sets the limits and potentials of much of what happens in life.  Of course people break it, and we should, but when it helps to shape a world that's unfair for 50% of its inhabitants then it's time to change the law.  So law matters.

[Steven]: Well of course.  You're right because breaking the law is the greatest way to acknowledge the law.  That's the thing.  By transgressing it, you're really acknowledging it.  I mean your acknowledging it porosity and its permeability and so on, but your acknowledging it's there and that it's the law.  Antoine, isn't that right?

[Antoine]: Excellent.  Yes.

[Scott]: Okay, so ten years later, fast forward. Actually, this is a few years ago now.  Flicker adopted a Creative Commons License.  How does this change Copyleft Attitude's missions stance and all of that?

[Steven]: That's a good question.

[Scott]: I mean we're not talking about something like that.  It's a major win in somebody interested in, ultimately, interested in different types of protection that posts challenges to dominant ideas of ownership.  But at the same time it hasn't exactly changed everything.  

[Steven]: Yeah. Right.  You follow these things, right?  Flicker has adopted a kind of, what is Copyleft's attitude about that?

[Antoine]: The problem is that, by example of Flicker, choose Creative Commons they were out of six licenses.  One only is a free license copyleft.  I think that copyleft Creative Commons was not a good idea because they make the choice of sort of license and not the choice of the free license.  So people can't...  It is very difficult for people to know what is the right way to make a choice of the free movement.  I have a discussion with (inaudible 1:16:12.3) about this he was very surprised that the most used is the (inaudible 1:16:22.7).

[Steven]: This one; Attribution Non-Commercial share alike.

[Antoine]: Yeah.  And it is not free.

[Steven]: So this was Greg's question.  That this particular license is not copyleft.  

[Antoine]: No. Not at all.

[Steven]: Not at all.

[Antoine]: Only one is copy left from Creative Commons, it's a share alike by (inaudible 1:16:50.3).Other's are not.

[Scott]: What about the commercial vs. non commercial distinction because that's the other part of that.

[Antoine]: If you can't do any business it is not free.  If you cannot.

[Steven]: Okay.  So you're not an anarchist, you're a legalist but a libertarian.

[Antoine]: Not at all. (Inaudible 1:17:37.3) is a libertarian.  For example Eric (inaudible 1:17:42.4 - 1:18:06.0) is the libertarian party.  Open source is libertarian, free software and copyleft is not.  It could be (inaudible 1:18:23.9).

[Steven]: (inaudible 1:18:26.9) cynicism.  Hang on, I don't get this.  Something that is explicitly non commercial...

[Antoine]: The devil is not the money.

[Steven]: The devil is not the money.

[Antoine]: Yeah.  Money is just media to transport some value.  I could be useful and it is (inaudible 1:18:49.4) to have some money. So it is right reason with free software and free art.  Non commercial is a (inaudible 1:19:07.6) and copyleft is not creating a diversion.  We accept the money which smells bad, yes.  We accept it and we work with it, we pay with it.  It is not the idea of non commercial and it is why free is not (inaudible 1:19:48.8) it is free.

[Scott]: So Antoine, I understand what you mean, but isn't that argument just trying to make the point that money itself is not exactly what you're talking about?  You're not saying that it literally must be commercially viable to be copyleft.  I mean, if are...  It's not hard for me to understand what you're saying, but I'm imagining that you're kind of using a cannonball to swat a fly for the argument, if you know what I mean.  Maybe too good of an effect because it's really drives the point home but in the end, I feel like it also has to be removed in order to move ahead.  Otherwise, you're basically saying "our idea of copyleft is limiting only to certain forms of exchange otherwise it's not really valid within our framework".  And I don't really think that you, it doesn't sound like from everything that you've said, that's...

[Steven]: I think what Scott's point was is that he can see in the abstract sense why you say this but he has a hard time believing that it's really that important.  Because you're not really saying this to defend people making money, you just want to de-dramatize the importance of monetary exchange.  Like it shouldn't be taboo the way...

[Antoine]: It is not important.  It's just a medium.

[Steven]: Well it is kind of important in a real sense.  It'd be important to have some more here, that's for sure.  For example, Scott made the point that the website of Plausible Artworlds and BaseKamp is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 which is not copyleft because it is explicitly non commercial.

[Antoine]: Yes, but the (inaudible 1:22:39.1) of non commercial is fear. We fear that somebody could make money with our work.  I don't think that the fear is a good reason to (inaudible 1:23:11.15).  What are you observe with free movement copyleft.  One is that there are not afraid by commission and by business, they don't care.  They're doing some, people can do some too.  It is public and it is (inaudible 1:23:58.7).  I am speaking, do I must be afraid of somebody who can take away my words and ideas and take them again for his own?  No I'm not afraid of this. I think that what is worrisome is that somebody can take a language for example or any of your products, for his own and only for his exclusivity.  This is really frightening.

[Steven]: Chris, question.

[Scott]: Who really owns ideas?  Ultimately.  The thing is it's an interesting construction that we're all kind of working within. And many of us are working in different ways. Maybe the interesting, you made a distinguished, excuse me.  Antoine, you just ambiguated free and open source projects earlier.  I think part of the power of open source, even though it's ultimately really big business too, but part of the reason that it's so weirdly powerful is that it's kind of disproven that certain forms of competition or something like a natural law, even within aggressive markets.  You can actually, there's all different ways to argue this but basically when you exchange things and you question your right or what ownership of an idea really means I think what happens is that very old notions of ownership and property and governance all come into question.  Because they've been used for a very long time to legitimize ways of structuring societies that are completely unfair.  Or at least that privilege certain people and not others or that many other people have spent their lives reimagining or fighting against.  These things aren't extricable from one another.  Notions of ownership of things and ideas are really tied to what you're talking about.  They're really tied to Copyleft Attitude and they're also very tied to open source and those things aren't exactly the same thing. Do you know what I mean?

[Antoine]: Yes.

[Scott]: So I think the attitude of that if someone is going to steal my work is a reality because it's a fiction that's played out so successfully.  But it's not a natural reality.  It's just a game that we play.

[Steven]: It's because it's based on artificial scarcity.  When we're talking about material objects there's a limited number of them in a finite world so their scarcity is actually real, although it may be sometimes exaggerated.  When we're talking about ideas it's not because two people read a book that there's only half as many ideas left in it at the end.  If fact, the more people that read it potentially the more ideas there will be generated by that book.  So anything that would be done to create ownership around an idea would be a way of creating artificial scarcity.  In other words, applying a model from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century's reality. Which is why I think what you're talking about right (inaudible 1:28:55.3).

[Antoine]: Yes.  This is the reason I did this painting last week, "0+0= Total Space". I think that what we are doing is zero.  It is not bad but it is zero like something which is really open and infinite. It is a real value (inaudible 1:29:55.8) inestimateable.  So it is really difficult to take the value of the production because there is no cost in effect.  Especially for production of the mind.  So which is inestimateable?  We can't (inaudible 1:30:31.0).  It is like the language and it is life living, which is not a language.  Which is dead.  Living language, like living production of mind, must be open and we can't be afraid that it could be used by someone else.  Copyleft is here to guarantee that nobody can capture it and have an exclusivity of it.  This is the way of the law for us and the law which is not the law of domination, but the law of protection for creativity.  For creative use.

[Antoine]: The connection with art for me is that maybe art is a free practice by (inaudible 1:32:39.0).  Art is the way of free form.  But if we needed to protect the freedom of art with a free license, it is because now everybody wants to count dominant production.  So, the way to recover the freedom of art is to have a copyleft.  It is like armor.  A defensive one and a decor one.  Because there is a passion of power.  Everybody wants to have power over things and over people.  Art is not power, it's a potential.

[Steven]: It's precarious, it's fragile.

[Antoine]: Fragile.  Yes.

[Scott]: Well guys, I'd like to connect, if possible, back to software for a moment because we've gotten to a place where a lot of interesting questions open up.  I think part of my concern is some of this discussion kind of gets boxed in certain realms of culture.  I and I think several others here are very interested in bringing some of this discussion and some examples that tie to this to larger open source and free software communities.  This is where a lot of these ideas actually make, not really made their way into a mainstream, but made a larger impact more visibly.  I just typed this in.   I don't know if you guys had seen this.  We have Jonathan and Chris Simpson who are two of the co-organizers of this conference in Rochester, NY coming up this weekend.  Steven and Meg and I from BaseKamp are going to present and kind of open with a key note presentation to all of these software developers and people interested in these ideas.  So, if you don't mind, since there are only a few days between now and then and we're on the subject, I'd kind of like to hear from them and maybe we could have a little bit of a discussion about how these ideas overlap?

[Antoine]: Yeah.

[Jonathan]: Hey Scott.

[Scott]: Hey Jonathan.

[Jonathan]: I've got myself and Chrissy here and like you said we're organizing.  We're one of the team, well two of the team really, that are putting this thing together.  And kind of like you said in the opposite direction we're seeing how everybody gets in their own little silos and doesn't necessarily explore outside of that.  I think you guys coming up and presenting from a different silo, if you will, than just "okay, here's software and here's open hardware and..."  There are all these different pieces and brining that new perspective is very valuable.  So, just so everybody knows, we have (inaudible 1:36:59.8) coming up this Saturday in Rochester, NY.  Some of us from the Philadelphia area are going up and people from all over the place are coming in.  One of our speakers is actually flying in from Denmark I think tomorrow.  So there are people from all over.  I really think it's awesome that you guys were able to be part of this for exactly those reasons. Just breaking down those barriers that separate groups with very similar goals.  I'm going to let Chrissy say a few words as well.

[Chrissy]: Hi!

[Scott]: Hi Chrissy!

[Chrissy]: Yeah, I totally agree with John about just really expanding the boarders for what our communities are about and creating everybody and everything and trying to reach out to people in other senses that would not know about the different areas and able for people to participate in and are interested in participating in.  Which is kind of the reason why, one of the reasons, why we really decided to do this.  Late last year we were coming back from a conference down in South Carolina, the Self Conference.  It really just talked about there is so many different places and so many different communities and we all really want a lot of the same things.  So, we wanted to provide an outlet that we could all just come together and express that.  So, we're really looking forward to it.  There's been a lot of hard work that has gone into this just to make it available for the northeast community.  Like John said, we have people from Denmark, Canada, all over the place that are coming in because they really, really share our cause.  That's what is amazing about this.

[Jonathan]: Yeah, it's a lot of shared passion.  And like Chrissy said, we all have a lot of similar goals in what we believe and in what we want to see happen.  So I think it's really good to see different groups coming together and doing things together.  So I guess that's about it for me.  And like I said Scott's going to be there and Megs going to be there and we're very excited about that.

[Scott]: And we hope, anyway, if we can get our basic tech set up to work properly, which doesn't always happen.  Hopefully Steven will be able to come on.  Alright, now I have a question for everybody. We're talking about this stuff right?  Now sort of bringing it into a practical realm where there is a time to connect with a bunch of people who do work on free software projects and open source software projects.  I'm wondering, besides asking them "hey can you develop something for my art work", I don't know maybe that's okay too, but if we were to present say Copyleft Attitude as one of the examples of other things going on that relate maybe peripherally, if not directly, to the topic of this conference.  What do you think we should present?  What could we really (inaudible 1:40:34.5) from this week, this two hour chat where we passed around like a gazillion links and had a lot of interesting discussion and a little bit of argument (laughing).  What do you think would really be valuable to offer?

[Steven]:  I think Scott's question, it's something that I've talked with Scott about the last few days.  You know, it's something you've already thought about Antoine, I'm sure.  Because you've thought about how to bring the values of copyleft and free software into a domain which is largely premised on a very powerful reputational economy and individual signature style. I'm talking about art.  It was easy to bring the generosity of that whole copyleft free software movement into art, but what could art actually offer to that community?  Because if we're going to mutualize our desires and approaches then we have to be clear about what it is that we're bringing into the mix.  Because, they don't need us.  Maybe we needed them.  But if they need us, what do they need from us and what can we offer?

[Antoine]: Maybe they need from us some kind of uselessness.  Because the humility of the programmers in the free movement are preempted to doing something useful and maybe art gives them... I think maybe art is the freedom of freedom.  I observe some programmers free yes, but they are they are not dominate by the freedom of the software.  It's not sure that they are free in their mind.  I think that (laughing) maybe, not artists, but art and sometime artists are free in their mind.  

[Steven]: Sometimes.

[Antoine]: Sometimes.  Yes.  It could be.

[Steven]: In some best case scenarios because in other case scenario they are extremely alienated in their minds.

[Antoine]: Because we can't say that in the way I use free software I am free.  It's not right and I'm not free because I use free software.

[Steven]: No. But you're not free because you're an artist either.

[Antoine]: Nada.  I tried.  So the meeting between programmers and artists could be interesting in the way of uselessness. I really think that if we can do some things in art simply interesting it is a freedom of freedom.  And it could be useful for the free movement.  I have some talk with (inaudible 1:45:21.0) a few months ago and we were together in Swiss for a meeting.  I was very surprising that he was a guru of the free movement (laughing).  But, I was asking if he was very free because he was always with his laptop and very detrimented by some kind of way of life, very special.  I was wondering if he was a human person.


[Antoine]: It was very strange.  So I think that without art, free software is not free.  What is free in making free software?  It is the art of doing this.  There is a kind of art of doing the free software.  I think that programmers are artists of software's.

[Steven]: Excellent.

[Antoine]: Yes.

[Steven]: Antoine lets make that the (inaudible 1:46:55.4).  Its one minute passed two here, in the morning.

[Scott]: Ah yeah, right.  We try to keep to a very strict schedule but I was too lax in my strict time keeping.  Its one minute over.

[Steven]: I think that is a good way to take a break for about the next seven days.  That without art, free software is not free and what's free about it is the art of doing it freely.

[Greg]: Also, this is Greg.  I just had one final request.  I just posted a link on the chat and I thought that in the spirit of antique copyright, or copyright infringement, we might all un-mute our microphones and sing "Happy Birthday" to Scott Rigby.

[Steven]: NO! Is it his birthday??

[Scott]: No it's not!  No, totally.  You're one month early dude.

[Greg]: Oh no really?

[Scott]: AHHHHHHHHHHHAHAHAHAHA! But thank you (laughing).

[Greg]: My God, I'm so embarrassed.

[Scott]: I'd love if you would do it anyway.  No, I'm just kidding (laughing).


[Steven]: When is your birthday man?

[Greg]: I thought it was June 16th?

[Scott]: No way dude.

[Steven]: July 16th?

[Scott]: July 12th.

[Greg]: Oh wow.  I'm way off.

[Scott]: Well, you're just not perfectly off, you're pretty close.  All things considered (laughing).

[Greg]: Alright, well, sorry about that.  I'm embarrassed.


[Steven]: Good try Greg.


[Greg]: Are you messin' with me?

[Scott]: No, I'm totally not (laughing).

[Greg]: He totally is.  I can tell.

[Scott]: This would be a good way to deflect embarrassment for myself from being sung to but no, it's...

[Greg]: Okay, July 12th.  The Skype chat that happens then we're singing you "Happy Birthday" even if it's not.

[Steven]: Yeah!  And even if it's only like the 11th, we'll still do it.

Thank you so much for being with us.  I think we could continue on for another hour, even without "Happy Birthday". But thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with us.

[Antoine]: Thank a lot for the invitation and thank you everybody for this meeting.

[Scott]: Yeah, absolutely.  And if you'd like to, since we talked about this key note speech or presentation, if you guys want to pop in during that we're going to be on Skype.  We don't actually have to wait another seven days to continue this.  We can actually sort of continue a little bit in text on this Saturday.  I'm going to paste the details of this into this window.  So, come join us.

[Steven]: Okay, I'll be there for sure.  If it works.  Skype willing, I will definitely be there.  And I'll try to convince Antoine as well.  You know one thing with Antoine we didn't talk about is Antoine is a very wide, often published writer as well on theoretical issues which are somewhat (inaudible 1:50:22.89) to what we talked about tonight.  So I'll try and twist his rubber arm and get some ideas on Friday prior to our meeting on Saturday.

[Scott]: That'd be great.

[Steven]: Okay, good night you guys!

[Scott]: Good night everyone!

(Goodbyes and background noise)

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