Like Stallman’s arguments for free software, an argument for free culture stumbles on a confusion that is hard to avoid, and even harder to understand. A free culture is not a culture without property; it is not a culture in which artists don’t get paid. A culture without property, or in which creators can’t get paid, is anarchy, not freedom. Anarchy is not what I advance here.

“Instead, the free culture that I defend in this book is a balance between anarchy and control. A free culture, like a free market, is filled with property. It is filled with rules of property and contract that get enforced by the state. But just as a free market is perverted if its property becomes feudal, so too can a free culture be queered by extremism in the property rights that define it. That is what I fear about our culture today. It is against that extremism that this book is written. ”

Introduction to “Free Culture” by Lawrence Lessig

As I’ve used computer software and the Internet, inevitably I’ve also come to learn about copyright, and how it increasingly bears on life in the 21st Century. Along the way I’ve become something of a free culture advocate. In modern terms, the ideas of Free Software first took hold with the technical community, as both copyright and patent began to impact negatively on the ability to innovate. As computer technology brought forth the ability to easily and cheaply make flawless copies of anything digital, the need for free culture began spreading into the world of the arts.

A free culture is not a culture in which people must scrupulously analyse and adhere to licenses, perform due diligence with regard to exploring every work’s provenance for copyright clearance purposes, and generally remain alert to consequent copyright risks in all their cultural engagements.

A free culture is one in which everyone is free to share and build upon any work they see, hear or receive – all mankind’s published art and knowledge – that which by natural right already belongs to the public, the people. ”
— Crosbie Fitch, Digital Productions

Within the context of the novel, Maggie, Kate, Oscar, Krystal and Adam are computer students, so it was a given that these ideas would be of some importance to them. They all use free software to an extent, and spend time in computer club meetings and throwing Ubuntu release parties.

Free culture has become important to me in terms of both writing and self publishing.