Free Culture

  • Two days ago I wrote Does VODAFONE really ignore how copyright works? Why? to criticize the fact that the recently launched Vodafone InFamiglia website contained wrong statements about copyright like: “[Parents and teachers should] explain to students that downloading and sharing a file protected by copyright is a crime”. Very quickly, through Twitter, my report came to be mentioned on Techdirt, where it generated several comments. Since I’ve seen similar reactions in other places I decided to put my answer to all such comments here in one place, to have only one link to spread around and, hopefully, only one discussion to follow about this story.
  • (update 2011/03/24: good news from Vodafone, see bottom of this page) Here we go again. According to Italian newspaper Repubblica, Telecom giant Vodafone just launched in Italy an educational website for a more responsible use of computers and mobile phones called InFamiglia (“in the family”): “a community site dedicated to parents, children and teachers, that will contain guides and interactive services that will help adults to get more familiar with new technologies and will teach children how to use them without risks”.
  • DISCLAIMER: What follows is a reformatted version of some things I posted in a Facebook discussion on this topic. I am publishing it here because it is a general interest question, for which it is important to find an answer online as simple and short as possible. I believe that what follows is also correct, but please do understand that I am not a lawyer and that, in any case, copyright law is not exactly the same in all countries (yet).
  • Personally, I believe that copyright has a reason to exist (1) and that copying and sharing online 24⁄7 every file you can lay your hands on, “just because I can”, makes it easier to pass things like ACTA and therefore is a stupid, counterproductive habit. This doesn’t mean that I like the current copyright system. I am convinced that copyright must be reformed and that, even before that, its duration must be heavily reduced.
  • In September 2010 I went to the Open World Forum to present some first results of my research about local impacts of Open Data. The Forum was an interesting and varied event, that gave space to very interesting talks, keynotes and comments about freedom, education and gender diversity in software. Another great moment for me was the contribution to the final panel by John Wilbanks, Vice-President for Science Creative Commons.
  • Author’s note: I wrote the short “novel” below in… June 2004. For several reasons I didn’t immediately publish it online, then it went lost on my hard drive. I found it again only some weeks ago, and I think the basic idea is still valid, so here it is. Last night I had a dream. I was Dr P, the official psychoanalist of top executives, the one curing them from the phobies of All Things Which Must Never Happen.