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Lessig vs. Valenti
Hoo-boy, is this a good movie. It's a debate at USC between author and professor Lawrence Lessig and MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti (pictured at left). Marvel as Valenti screams, gesticulates, podium-pounds, insults, bullies, evades and sputters in an attempt to cover up his position's lack of principle, while Lessig calmly lays out reasoned arguments and empirical evidence. Valenti's position on the United States Constitution? "Forget the intervening words!" You have to see it to believe it. Doesn't it mean something that the most qualified person on Earth to defend present copyright practices can't do it convincingly? The debate is in Real Player, 1 hour, 28 minutes.

(In addition to the little snippets sprinkled throughout this site, Free Cinema has made a 6-minute mp3 excerpt of the debate--it includes Valenti's priceless "intervening words" quote.)

There was also a debate between Lessig and Valenti at Harvard. Real Player; 1 hour, 39 minutes.

<free culture>
This already legendary Flash presentation by, yes, Lawrence Lessig is at once a concise education and a call to action. It was designed for an audience of hackers, so it leans toward software issues, but for the most part it is newbie-friendly. The date Lessig presented this talk, July 24, 2002, will probably go down in history. File takes a while to load, but worth it. 44 minutes.
flash  |  mp3  |  transcript

Get Creative
"...being the origin and adventures of the Creative Commons licensing project." The White Stripes and Steven McDonald of Redd Kross kick off this entertaining Flash presentation of the Creative Commons licensing schemes. As fun and educational as "Schoolhouse Rock."

Corporate Contributions and the Media
Ever wonder just how much media corporations pay politicians to endorse copyright extremism (among other extremisms)? Guess what? It's a lot. "John McCain is the largest recipient of media company money in Congress. He received close to $7 million. Trent Lott is college classmates with the President of NAB [National Association of Broadcasters]. And NAB is one of the highest contributors to political campaigns. Since 1993 through the middle of [2000], media corporations have given $75 million in campaign contributions to candidates for federal office." The Democracy Now radio program dishes the dirty details that, strangely, don't get reported very much in the mainstream media. Real Player, 52:59.

Prelinger Archives
A while back, Rick Prelinger had a huge archive of films he calls "ephemera," stuff like the civil defense film "Duck and Cover," social-engineering films like "Are You Popular?" and thousands of other priceless artifacts of our culture. One day he decided to start putting all of them on the Web. For free. No restrictions. You can view them, you can download them (in high-quality MPEG2), you can copy them, you can share them. But most of all you can make new stuff out of them. (And what happened to Prelinger Archives' income when it started giving stuff away? It increased.)

"Come on to Freedom"
[socrates] DJ Socrates has created the official Free Cinema anthem, called "Come on to Freedom (I Want to Feel)." You can download the MP3 file here and listen to it while you surf this site, so as to enhance the tingling excitement you experience while contemplating freedom and movies joined together for the first time. In the spirit of Open Source, Socrates recently made the individual music tracks available so that you can download them and do your own remix, then upload that remix for others to hear. Click here to get the music.


The Future of Ideas  by Lawrence Lessig
Lessig's name comes up a lot on this site. It's unavoidable--he sounded an alarm many of us are barely starting to hear right now. The Future of Ideas is smart, readable and revelatory. There's precious little about film production technique in it, but if you are a filmmaker who cares about freedom, then The Future of Ideas may be the most important filmmaking book you'll ever read.

The Cathedral & the Bazaar  by Eric S. Raymond
Yeah, yeah, it's about hackers, written by a hacker. Get over it. Filmmakers have a lot to learn from what those nerds have accomplished. In the past two decades, independent filmmaking has managed to take itself from being dependent on companies like Warner Bros. to being dependent on companies like Miramax (which is to say, Disney). In the same period, open-source hackers created their own truly independent world. They're happier, their creative work is better, and the lives of software users such as you are better, too, even if you don't know why. If you can get past the occasional geekspeak in this book, you'll see that Eric Raymond is offering an instruction manual on how to free yourself.


Creative Commons
The "Share Alike" license used by Free Cinema films was created by this non-profit organization, which is dedicated to "promoting the creative reuse of intellectual works." If you are down with Free Cinema, you are down with Creative Commons, an umbrella organization bringing together all of the arts in an attempt to catch up with the progress made by our compatriots in the Open Source and Free Software movements. There are many different ways to look at copyright -- Free Cinema and Standard Valenti Dogma being only two of them -- and Creative Commons has licenses available to address a great number of these perspectives. If you want to share something you've created, but you don't want to do it the Free Cinema way, you should look at the various options offered by Creative Commons. Also you should give them money.

Center for the Public Domain
The name says it all. A huge collection of essays, links, news and other useful information about that most foreign of concepts, the public domain. "Center for the Public Domain is a non-profit foundation that supports the growth of a healthy and robust public domain by establishing programs, grants, and partnerships in the areas of academic research, medicine, law, education, media, technology, and the arts."

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The EFF leads the fight against "government and corporate practices that threaten to deny our civil liberties in cyberspace." Have no doubt -- the freedom you enjoy right here right now on the Internet wouldn't be what it is without the EFF. You should give them money.

Free Software Foundation

Here's where the modern movement started. Richard Stallman said, Hey, what if software gave the user freedom? Everyone had a nice laugh at his expense, and then the world changed. Free Cinema follows in Free Software's footsteps. You should give them money.

Open Source Initiative
Open Source is an offshoot of Free Software that differs in ways that you'll have to discover for yourself. The Open Source and Free Software communities consider each other allies in the same struggle against prorietary software (software such as Microsoft's, Adobe's or Apple's that doesn't reveal its source code and allows the user virtually no freedom to modify or redistribute it). You should give them money.

"News for nerds. Stuff that matters." This popular website introduces several new discussions a day about issues that often relate to copyright extremism and other matters of Free Cinema concern. It is heavily populated by Linux users and coders, so some discussions are well above the average person's head. (Random example: "LibUFO is a C++ widget set for OpenGL, currently in alpha." Yikes.) But Slashdot is a reliable place to find more accessible discussions every day. (Ex: "RIAA nominated for 'Internet Villian of the Year'"). If there is an issue related to Free Software, Open Source or copyright extremism, there's probably a discussion about it right now on Slashdot.


Are there any? Please let us know. The independent film sites we've seen tend to adopt the Standard Valenti Dogma by default. We'd at least link here to some  magazines, but the indie-film mags, when they consider copyright at all, tend to have an attorney write an article that assumes the reader is only interested in aggressive protection of copyright (this is likely the result of assigning an intellectual-property lawyer to write about copyright law).

The absence of indie film sites that endorse and encourage copyright moderation indicates just how much catching up indie film has to do in this area. (The number of sites about freedom in the software field probably number in the thousands.) If you create one, we'll link to it from here.

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"I voted to execute him."

--Jack Valenti on the coder Dmitry Skylarov, who was jailed for cracking the Adobe eBook Reader. From the USC debate.

(Requires Quicktime)

(Skylarov was not ultimately charged, and his employer was found not guilty by a jury.)

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