How Culture is Made

One objection that it might seem to be possible to make to applying Stallmanian freedom to culture is that culture isn’t like code. You can’t get a team to write a book then release it and let its readers send in bug fixes.

Only you can. Modern films, cartoons, magazines, games, television programmes and albums are made by large teams all revising each other’s work. “Plussing”, Disney call it.
Historical culture is the same. This is effectively how Homeric verse was written, by a succession of authors improving on previous versions of poems. Or how Shakespeare built on existing stories to make new versions. Brilliant new versions, but 2.0 revisions all the same.

A painting might seem a less obvious example of “plussing”. But if you look at a painting of a crucifiction (or another standard scene) it is a derivative work, building on hundreds or thousands of years of “original works”.

So there is no historical objection to a Free Culture. Outside of the commercially-inspired nineteenth century romantic myth of the creative genius.

Posted in Free Culture