Notes Toward Free Culture

Artist’s exploration of extremism stymied

“The [UK] government’s anti-terror law watchdog has become involved in an artist’s attempt to use jihadist handbooks and extremist tracts in his work.”

Tintin copyrights go to war against Tintin fans

“The British lawyer who married the widow of Tintin creator Hergé has successfully sued Bob Garcia (“a detective novelist, jazz musician and Tintin aficionado”) for £35,000 for printing five short essays in appreciation of Tintin, two of which were illustrated with brief clips from the comic. The essays were distributed for free on a non-profit basis, and the two pamphlets with Tintin illustrations were printed about 500 times each. “

Artists vs. Copyright Law

“After constant harangues about the sanctity of their “private property” and the scourge of “piracy,” it was refreshing to experience World Fair Use Day in Washington, D.C. on January 12. The event — hosted by Public Knowledge, the defender of the public’s stake in the Internet and copyrighted works — brought together some two dozen artists, lawyers, scholars, journalists and others who care about our untrammeled right to use and re-use our own culture.”

UK Independent editor claims it may steal any image posted to Flickr

“Freely sharing one’s work is a popular choice, but it’s not the choice that Zabulis made here. Moreover, the Independent didn’t attribute the work, responded disrespectfully to his inquiry, and offers no fair use defense or even a transgressive rationale for what it did: just “tough shit, old boy,” safe in the knowledge that legal recourse is an option only to those who can afford it.”


A Note To Comment Spammers

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Processing Code Community Site Licencing

Processing is an art computing environment that has the (dis)advantage of being based on Java and capable of running in any web browser with a non-free Java plugin (which really needs fixing, guys). There are better languages and environments for art computing, but there are none with greater mindshare or more active communities.

There are a couple of websites that allow you to create, upload and share Processing "sketches" (programs), which is great. Processing was designed in part as a successor to the "Design By Numbers" educational graphics programming environment, and its use in design and generative art makes sharing code good for the progress and development of culture.


sketchPatch is very easy to use and allows you to write, compile and run Processing sketches in the browser. Sketches are licenced under Creative Commons’s Attribution-only licence. Which CC don’t recomment for code. MIT or the revised BSD licence would be better for a permissive/gift/psuedo-public-domain licence, and the GPL would be better for ensuring that people can use the code they contribute and build on.


OpenProcessing allows you to upload and share your sketches. The licencing is better than sketchPad – code is GPL the graphical output of the code presented on the website is BY-SA. But they do need to make it clear that the code is GPLv3 or later, and that BY-SA covers the non-code assets rather than the code, and that output from sketches is only BY-SA if presented on the site or it incorporates pre-existign BY-SA assets.

Neither site is Franklin Street free, you can’t get the source code for the websites/web services themselves.

Both sites are great resources for digital artists and designers. Tuning up the presentation of their licences, and ensuring they are free network services, would future proof them for their creators and their audiences.