Free content


October 18, 2021

A free work (or free content), similarly to the concept of free software, is a work that is usable, reusable and distributable without restrictions, according to the definition of free cultural work. Wikipedia is an example of a free content encyclopedia.

Copyleft Free Content Licenses

We talk about copyleft free content (or strong free content) if we want to prevent derivative works with additional restrictions that the original work did not have. Creative Commons - Attribution and Share alike (CC BY-SA) GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) Design Science License (DSL)

Non-copyleft free content licenses

Non-copyleft free content (or weak free content) is referred to if the license does not provide copyleft. This allows a greater diffusion of the work at the cost of granting the birth of derivative works that are no longer free. Some examples: Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY) BSD License Public domain

Non-Free Content Licenses

It is important to distinguish all the licenses that, on the contrary, cannot be considered as having free content because they restrict in some way the freedom of use of a work, such as prohibiting its use for "commercial purposes", limiting it for amateur or research areas, restricting it to a certain number of users, prohibiting modification or distribution, etc., are all limitations that make the work in question non-free content. Some examples: Creative Commons - Attribution - Non-commercial (By NC) Creative Commons - Attribution - No derivative works (By ND)

Additional restrictions

Additional restrictions mean certain limits on the use, modification or dissemination of a work, which render it non-free. Some of these restrictions are used to discourage forms of competition or to restrict the field of use of the work, such as the wording "for non-commercial use" (since, on the contrary, a free work is also distributable through remuneration) . Another very common term is "no derivative works" used to make the work usable but not editable. It is spread on personal testimonies or thoughts to keep them intact in their entirety, rather than for actual cultural works.

Future prospects

At the level of the European Union, the creation of a digital library to be created according to the principles of free content is at an advanced stage. A first concrete realization is Europeana which for now provides 12,000 texts online, but which plans to reach 100,000 texts per year. However, free use is limited to personal use.

The hearing at the Culture Commission of the Italian Chamber

In 2007 the topic of software and free content was brought authoritatively to the Italian Parliament. The culture committee of the Chamber of Deputies heard, in the form of a hearing, prof. Arturo Di Corinto, together with Richard Stallman and Bruce Perens. The Share knowledge conference also attempted to broaden the membership base of the academic world on free software and free content with the aim of making its voice heard by the political world as well.



Simone Aliprandi, Copyleft & opencontent. The other side of copyright (PDF), PrimaOra /, 2005, p. 176, ISBN 88-901724-0-1. Retrieved December 10, 2011. Giulio Concas, Giulio De Petra; Giovanni Battista Gallus; Giaime Ginesu; Michele Marchesi; Flavia Marzano, Open content, common goods (PDF), McGraw-Hill, 2009, p. 280, ISBN 978-88-386-6552-3. Retrieved December 18, 2009. Luciano Paccagnella, Open access. Open knowledge and the information society, Il Mulino, 2010.

Related items

Copyright Open content Copyright Free license Open source license Public domain Open source Open Source Definition Open Con

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