Free Culture Forum: Organization and Action

Xnet presents: Free Culture Forum 2009 – English from Xnet on Vimeo.

Barcelona: October 29th—November 1st, 2009

Across the planet, people are recognizing the need for an international space to build and coordinate a common agenda for issues surrounding free culture and access to knowledge. The Free Culture Forum of Barcelona created one such space.

Bringing together key organizations and active voices in the free culture and knowledge space under a single roof, the Forum was a meeting point to sit and find answers to the pressing questions behind the present paradigm shift.

The Forum was an open space for drawing up proposals to present the position of civil society on the privatization of culture and access to knowledge. Participants debated the role of government in access to knowledge, on the creation and distribution of art and culture, and other areas.

* ” Free as in freedom, not as in free beer” FSF, 1996

[Nobody is saying that artists shouldn’t live off their work, if they so wish]

The Free Culture Forum, which took place in tandem with the 2nd Oxcars Festival (the biggest free culture event of all time,) did not aim to generate further debate or open up new directions, as spaces already exist for this purpose. Instead, it responded to an urgent need to bring different existing claims into a shared arena. The Forum unified existing documents and built a unique citizen legal plan for civil liberties in the digital era, a plan that cannot be ignored or rejected. And in particular, the Forum sought to redefine the economical, educational and political context in order to articulate a response to four immediate and urgent threats, among others:

— The need to reinterpret the exceptions and limitations and the configuration of rights of reproduction, distribution and diffusion in “Intellectual Property” treaties and legislation, to bring them into line with technological developments. Along these lines, there is an urgent and inescapable need to respond to the WIPO development agenda and ACTA, among others.
— The need to respond to the Special 301 Report.
— The need to engage with MEPs as they discuss the Telecommunication Pack that will come to a vote in December 2009.
— The need to send a forceful message to the next European presidency of the EC (Spain), making it clear that civil society has its own demands, that it wants its rights to be respected and that it is watching them on this issue.

The outcomes of the Forum include (1) the constitution of an internationally valid Charter of Claims (2) the establishment and support of a mobilization network to optimize the efficacy of existing networks (3) new light cast onto the issues, carrying them into the mainstream and (4) the coordination of future actions.

Working Plan

October 29th

Celebration of the Oxcars, Free Culture Awards Festival.

October 30th

Public Presentations of key experiences and perspectives

See full program.

October 31th

Thematic working groups around the key topics of the Forum to analyze and define exhaustive and specific demands and strategies.

November 1st

Plenary session to discuss and unify claims in a final Charter.

Definition of diffusion strategies and networking organisation in view of the upcoming challenges.

* Due to the limited resources of the independent organizations that are organizing the event, this inaugural Free Culture Forum will not be able to delve into the issues of life patents and industrial property. The same lack of resources has made it impossible for us to invite a similar proportion of people from the North and South, as would be necessary. In spite of this, we will not lose sight of the global repercussions of the topics we are dealing with.