Free Culture Forum, Barcelona 29 Oct – 1 Nov

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The International Forum on free culture and knowledge will take place from October 29 to November 1st 2009 in Barcelona. This event is a unique opportunity to bring together under the same roof the main organizations and active voices in the world of free culture and free knowledge; a meeting point to sit down and work together setting common agendas and strategies, and also to reflect, from a critical point of view, on the different views, dangers and contradictions of free culture. At the same time, the forum is an opportunity to give more visibility to alternative conceptions of knowledge, culture and creativity, different from the ones that the entertainment industry and universities insist
on imposing.

Why Barcelona

In January 2010, Spain will take up the Presidency of the European Union. The Spanish Government has already announced that one of its flagships will be the reinforcement of the control over the Internet and the criminalization of the sharing culture in the digital environment. The consequences of those decisions will be noticed in the rest of the world. Furthermore, within this context Barcelona is closing agreements about access to culture that will serve as models to other institutions in Catalonia and Spain.

In October 29 this year Barcelona will hold the Second Edition of the Oxcars Festival, an international event to honor the defense of culture and to show the existence of other creation channels, at least as good as the traditional ones. The last edition was a success with more than 2000 participants. It brought the attention both of an interested public and of media. You can find more information about last year’s edition at

There are many active organizations, movements and persons related to free culture from different perspectives in Spain, offering a very rich sharing space and a source of new proposals from where an international process can be launched. In this regard, several worldwide voices, like during the last World Social Forum (Belem do Para, Brazil, 2009) recognize the necessity of creating international spaces for networking, coordination and building of a global framework for free culture and knowledge, analyze similarities and develop common agendas. The Free Culture Forum of Barcelona aims to create such a space.


The main objectives of the Forum are, on the one hand, building networks to optimize the efforts of the different groups and setting common demands against the proposals from industry and governments in their eagerness to control culture and information; and on the other hand reinforcing the self-organization of tools and infrastructures to support free culture.


The Forum will take place in 3 days that combine different methodologies:
October 29: Celebration of the Oxcars Free Culture Awards Festival.
October 30: Presentation of key experiences from around the globe and discussion
on the key issues.
October 31: Working groups around the key issues of the Forum.
November 1st: Bring together the results from the working groups. Define a
common agenda and approve a manifesto for each topic.

Key issues

LEGAL PERSPECTIVES AND USERS’ ACCESS: From a legal point of view, we will try to identify gaps and flexibilities in national regulations and International agreements to seek a strategy against the abuse of knowledge and culture policies both in private and contractual relations and against the international public policies. It is necessary to consider users rights’ regarding culture. The tendency in the last years has broken the balance between user and consumer rights and producer and creators, and this balance must be reestablished.

EDUCATION AND ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE: Opposed to the corporative view of education, a new approach is arising based on the idea of sharing and promoting solidarity. New ways of managing knowledge created by public funded research and innovative research methodologies taking into account social movements as knowledge generators. This new approach also means taking advantage of the new educational tools and the dissemination of knowledge that Internet and digital culture have provided. Little by little, new initiatives for the use and creation of materials that can be freely used, modified and distributed, as well as proposals to extend limitations and exceptions to those rights for educational use are emerging. At the same time, public domain is becoming more important every day as part of our cultural and intellectual wealth. An open access to culture and a wide public domain, as opposed to the extended duration of copyright, are fundamental for the development of modern societies.

ECONOMIES, NEW P2P MODELS AND SUSTAINABLE DISTRIBUTION: This section will cover two main lines of work. The first one is centered on the models that arise from new organisation schemes and the second one on the new exploitation proposals that question the need for middlemen. Also for Economy, culture and knowledge management are basic. In the last few years, more and more voices are questioning the costs of cultural and knowledge exploitation models that are based on long-lasting exclusive rights for society and its development. Favored by the Internet, focus of economy has moved from property to access. The filosophy of Free Culture, inherited from free software, is the empirical proof that new ethics and new businesses based on knowledge democratization are possible. Intermediaries disappear and the author becomes producer of her works.

FREE SOFTWARE AND KNOWLEDGE SHARING HACKER PHILOSOPHY: Even though the term “hacker” is usually used by media with a negative connotation, alternative actions have been developed around this movement with a clear defense of users’ rights from the perspective of a common conscience which promotes freedom of knowledge and social justice. Hackers have also built key platforms and tools for a free culture infrastructure.

ORGANIZATIONAL LOGIC AND POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF FREE CULTURE: Critically reflect on the emerging collective action organizational and democratic features related to free culture experiences (such as the remix culture, prosumerirsm, descentralised organizing and open and participative principles), analizing strengths and weaknesses, and to discuss on their political implications and the emerging institutional logic. Furthermore, promote a critical analysis on the “dark” side of technology and the risks linked to its uses, such as the increase of surveillance, control and concentration of benefits over collectively generated value.

The Forum infrastructure is provided by Exgae, Networked Politics and Free Knowledge Institute, with the collaboration of Students For Free Culture and Hangar.

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