English Translation of Muestra Libre: Reflexiones sobre Piratería, Software Libre y Diseño by Guadalupe Rivera
by Judge Russell
January 27 2021
Hi! Judge here, this is my first translation work, and I hope to do more soon! This zine, in the original Spanish, Muestra Libre: Reflexiones sobre Piratería, Software Libre y Diseño by Guadalupe Rivera, was plopped into my lap by my best of friends Anna upon our reunion, moving into our lovely house on Montague Road in September. She bought this lovely formatted and illustrated book for me during her time in Chiapas, Mexico this winter. After reading it, I found that there was no English translation on the internet that I could find, so I decided to do it myself! It's interesting stuff, and aims to get you thinking about Free software and alternative publishing licenses.
The title, sadly, is an untranslatable pun, which I've elaborated into my title Free Sample (A Sample of Freedom). Why I had to do that is explained best by the quote the author puts in her intro: "Think free as in free speech, not as in free beer". This quote in the original book was translated from English where we have only one word for free. In Spanish however, this sentence is translated as "Piensa free como en libertad de expresión, no como en cerveza gratis". It's funny that this sentence is included in this Spanish language book, where they have two separate words for these concepts. Your freedom of speech is libre, whereas the keg of beer included in the house show door charge is gratis. Anyways, the shit you (used to be able to ... damn COVID!!!) eat at Trader Joe's in Spanish is a muestra gratis, and the title of this book is the made up phrase Muestra Libre, a sample of freedom.
The original book can be found here.
This translation is published under the Licencia de Producción de Pares.
Well without further ado, checkout this author's free sample of freedom for you! This post leaves out the appendix (which I will add later) but for now, I hope you enjoy!
amherst mass, 1/27/20
To our friends in the Cubículo Pável González, of the Okupación Che Guevara, to those that made el Autogestival possible, and to the friends at Rancho Electronico for propelling, in this wildest of cities, another possible world.
“Think “free” as in free speech, not as in free beer.” ‘’ Richard Stallman
As a generalization we can say that “Free Software”, “Free Licenses’, or “Free Culture” are based on the principle that anybody can use, study, share, or improve something: a program, a book, anything, but always in total freedom and for the benefit of the community.
Not long ago, when we began our journey as a publisher, we visited the shop of a veteran anarchist publisher. He, like almost everyone working in the realm of “independent” publishing, uses Adobe InDesign to design the layout of his books, which is to say, not a free program.
When he asked us what we used, and when we replied “LibreOffice Writer”, he could only say smugly “But it’s so shitty, isn’t it?”. I am sure he has never used LibreOffice and simply regurgitated that opinion without even thinking.
I’d like to begin by saying that all of this book (note from the translator… even my translation) is made with Free Software and with Free Licenses.
Everything, from the illustrations, the fonts, the text and image editing programs, to the entire operating system has been developed and distributed freely.
I’ve done so because my goal is to present a sample of the achievements of Free Culture, and what is most important for us, as creators and publishers is to discuss the implications of the free, not free, and semi-free licenses we are able to find in the world of “independent publishing”.
This zine isn’t trying to be a work of faith, much less a purist manifesto. It aims to show how, more often than you think, the supposed “freedom” that we wish to demonstrate is undermined by limited behaviors and reflexes like those of that anarchist publisher “colleague” of ours.
“El Autogestival” (The Self-Management-Fest) is a moment where diverse projects meet in Mexico City, in which, like the name suggests the central axis is self-management. There, publishers, shopkeepers, urban gardeners, squatters, graphic artists, audiovisual creators, independent doctors, etc. meet up. We too, have participated every time that it has been possible for us to.
On one occasion, next to our booth, there was a Chilean woman who brought a book that we found very interesting. The book was about plant-based natural gynecology. We thought that it was an important book that could save the lives of thousands of women. Unfortunately, its price was high since it was brought directly from Chile. And despite its importance, and because it was brought by hand to Mexico, it is rare and hard to find.
Us, like the publishers we are, wrote naively to the author to propose a cooperative relationship based on solidarity in order to release the book over here. Her reply was that that didn’t interest her, because she was thinking she’d travel here and release a Mexican edition herself.
For better or for worse, she told us that a long time ago, she had an “independent publication”. (In this zine, we will put independent in quotes, as I consider the term to be ambiguous and worthy of debate). Her, like many editors (including us), took from texts here and there, organized them, printed and distributed them, always having the texts distributed under the “CopyRiot” license, permitting their copying and diffusion “as long as it is not for profit”.
For better or for worse, her book turned out to be so important, but so inaccessible, rare, and expensive, that some of our comrades scanned it and shared it on the internet.
For better or for worse, these comrades are close to us and they shared the author’s response with us. She was extremely bothered, and threatened us to report us for piracy. She claimed that the book was the work of several years of compiling the traditional knowledge of women in herbal medicine and gynecology, and she ordered them to respect her work and stop sharing her book illegally.
Those comrades yielded to take down the link, but (this is a secret), on a small scale, some physical copies continued to circulate, sold only to recuperate the costs of distribution and printing. Of course, the original books, ever-more-inaccessible, continued to circulate as well.
We continued to wait patiently for the Mexican edition that she promised us upon the rejection of the idea of our collaboration. We also kept asking ourselves if the author, who once preached “Pirate and Spread”, could really copyright the knowledge of all those women that formed the basis of HER book, and why is it that she prefers that her book doesn’t circulate in a manner that is cooperative, egalitarian, acting in solidarity, and above all, free.
Perhaps the author has her own personal motives to do it that way. We would think there could be some reason, however this was not the only instance where we’ve encountered attitudes that weren't totally congruent.
We must add a parenthesis and say that the notion of copyright is based on a rationality of private property that is difficult to get away from and is completely normalized in society. It’s the way in which the system has gotten into our heads that makes a sentence like “this book is mine, because I wrote it and only I should be able to sell it” sound correct and desirable, although the knowledge with which the author constructed the book is other people’s and pertains to their ancestral tradition. That is the part of the world that we don’t want, where someone can take something, patent it, and say that it’s “theirs”. Not only claiming their authorship, but their property. Today, biopiracy, the privatization of life and community knowledge by huge pharmaceutical corporations, is something that seems scandalous and immoral to us, but at the pace we’re going, perhaps one day that, too, will seem normal.
Anecdotes like the one mentioned before come in many types. For example, there are several authors that have asked us to pirate their books, but the most revelatory anecdotes are those that come from groups that call themselves “free” or “independent”, including promoters of Free Software and Culture, that aren’t really so free at all.
There are anarchist publishers who, for example, when they find out that you’re “stealing” their book, get bothered, although their book literally says “pirate and spread” in it.
There are others who put licenses that allow “all kinds of dissemination of their text”, in their books, but never upload the files to their webpages, and when you ask them to, they make up some story, to later say that their license doesn’t actually “represent what they were trying to say”, and that they are sorry that they “weren’t keeping the publisher in mind”. (Whatever that is supposed to mean).
There are others who, upon seeing a text you’ve published that they wanted to publish themselves, say “You beat me to it!”, as if the text in question happened to be property of the publisher who took it first.
All these situations are very strange, because if we look at what the license they have included says, we still will not find what generates this conflict and discomfort. It could be that everyone includes a free license because it is the most “politically” correct thing to do, not because they really believe in it. In that case, these licenses are functioning as a public discourse that hides the publisher’s true intentions.
On another occasion, in an independent radio station, I found a poster with a conceptual map of Free Software that included programs and types of licenses.
The designer asked how I liked it and I told her that it was very informative. But knowing these people, I asked them honestly and directly: “Did you really have to make this in Corel Draw?”. (that is to say, not Free Software). She responded “yes”, that they had had very little time and that they had decided to use not-Free software in a promotion campaign about Free software.
The most curious of these situations is seeing how these “promoters of Free Software and Culture” justify themselves. Some say that Free Software is “shittier”, others that “they don’t have the time”, others that they don’t use it for “compatibility reasons”. This last response is what a graphic designer, punk, hacker, and Free Software activist told me, who had his design shop in a Hacklab where they had GNU/Linux classes.
En Defensa del Software Libre (In Defense of Free Software) I have to say that I have for various years been printing and working in the same place where he had his workshop, and I have never had any compatibility issues using the programs I use.
It’s worrying that this is a common practice. Even the “alternative” publication “Traficantes de Sueños”, that has published various books about the topic like “Era el principio fue la linea de comandos” (In the beginning there was the command line), “Manual CopyLeft” (Copyleft Manual), or “Ciberespacio y resistencias”, (Cyberspace and Resistance), that were all made in Adobe InDesign CS3. Come on, stop changing the files’ metadata. Let us verify what you claim.
I want to make it clear that I am not trying to judge these acts, even describing them as incongruent feels uncomfortable to me, above all because I believe I’m not trying to see who is “more pure” or “less pure” or who is more congruent or less congruent. It’s just that I can’t help thinking that these are very contradictory attitudes. It’s like an anti-drug campaign giving out free weed.
It’s worrying because these projects that try to build an alternative, are in actuality doing nothing to help the generation of the free tools to build that alternative.
It bears repeating that these declarations don’t come from the “average user”, who can be excused by saying they weren’t aware of or have never used Free Software, but self-declared promoters of this movement.
I have also heard anarchists say that using Windows or Mac, Adobe or Corel, is all the same to them, as long as the software is pirated.
I believe that the problem of using or not using Free Software goes much further than its price.
It’s true, much Free Software is not for sale, but to me, that is secondary. The ideals behind the software is what is most important for me, and that is freedom as a principle and a philosophy. Because of this it is important to think of the term free in the sense of the liberty that birds have to fly, not as a McDonald’s campaign offering free sodas. Our conversation will progress once we get over the gratuity.
To pirate is to attack only one part of the issue. It is a resistance, and sometimes we are left with no other choice. I myself have been dedicated to piracy for 12 years. However, when you pirate, you are not building anything, you are only talking back. Furthermore, by filling your computer with viruses and other strange things you are saying that we are incapable of building something for ourselves and that the trash that is offered to us is actually good.
Private software is colonialist, restrictive. In the third world, millions of dollars are paid for licenses and upgrades. And as it has been proven many times, you cannot know if the code is spying on you or not. You cannot improve on it or adapt it to your particular needs. You cannot share it freely.
And even worse: eventually it will become outdated, with its planned obsolescence.
Independent publishers put up with a great problem with printers in this regard. The printers always break, and sometimes they cannot be fixed and it seems easier to just buy one, use it, and then throw it out rather than to depend on Chinese piracy to learn and understand how a printer works to be able to repair it ourselves. That however, is another story.
We have a right to know how things function, to share them, to modify them to our enjoyment and needs, to repair them, to create solutions as a community; we have the right to a world that is not disposable.
With pirating a certain piece of software, we may resolve an individual problem, but we are chipping away at our power as a community.
So because of this, we were surprised to find common deeply-rooted prejudices coming from publishers and designers, even in spaces that promote Free Culture.
When “independent” editors say that Free Software is “shittier” I don’t really know what they are trying to say. As an editorial design tool, LibreOffice has permitted us to do layouts in a professional manner. There are more sophisticated tools, like LaTex or Scribus, but we prefer LibreOffice. We have learned so much about how a book is made using this program.
On the other hand, many of our colleagues that use InDesign have become accustomed to copying a text, clicking twice or maybe three times, and then printing their new book. When I see their “work” I realize that they have lost the skills of the trade, and cannot truly say that their books have been “edited”. Those texts have just been adjusted to fit a template and they don’t know how or a why it works in that way: You have books without words splitting on syllables, with huge “rivers”, with “widows” and “orphans”, with horrible typography, with margins that are so strict they truncate lines of text or make the text look over-adjusted.
When designers say they don’t use Free Software because “it takes too long”, I say, takes too long? It wasn’t me who spent 8 years at university studying design. Takes too long? It takes less than 10 minutes to install the graphic design programs I use, I only have to type apt-get install gimp inkscape and boom, done. Takes too long? I don’t spend 6, 12, or 18 months interest-free to pay for an overpriced Mac. Neither do I spend time downloading viruses, cracks and “medicinas”, drivers and antivirus software. I don’t have to download plug-ins that make me obsolete and don’t allow me to understand how things are made, but to do them for me, nor do I have to waste time on loading screens or operating system updates I never asked for.
Neither is it difficult. You don’t even have to go to school for it. Neither do you have to watch many tutorials. All that I know I have learned from the community of Free Software users, by watching what others do, and asking them how they resolved their problems. Manuals and in-program help pages were also useful. And as with everything, experimenting is always necessary; to get things wrong and to learn for one’s own, without a guide, without schooling, but with the freedom to experiment.
But still, it’s not that the majority of activists don’t know of these free tools, they just simply reject them.
In a publisher’s meeting, when it was proposed to make a collective catalog, I added that it would be best to make a wiki so that, in a decentralized manner, between all of us we could all add content in coordination, but without centralized control. I have to say that it was a disaster: other than myself, nobody edited anything. Neither did they want to use secure email lists or pads to work together, they instead preferred to use Facebook or WhatsApp groups.
I believe that the majority of people who tell me that Free Software “takes too long”, “is more difficult”, or “it’s not as good” has never actually used Free Software and simply is limited to regurgitating the thoughtless and prejudiced discussion that Microsoft or their competitors sell to us to deal with the threat of Free Culture. If those colleagues responded “I don’t use Free Software because I didn’t know it existed” for example, that would be a different story, but instead they buy and sell the discourse of rejection, the discourse of the dominant companies.
Free Software is difficult? From what I see, it looks like unlearning prejudices is what’s truly difficult.
And for that same reason, the alternatives sustained by a community are more important yet. Debian/GNU Linux is an example of this. It is a free, complete, secure, stable, and successful operating system (it additionally doesn’t cost any money) that had no business involved in its development, and instead is maintained by a large community of users, self-organized developers, and volunteers. Ubuntu, the most well-known GNU/Linux distribution, is based on Debian.
The Debian community does not develop the OS for a profit, nor are they paid in money. The individual developers do it because they believe that their way, collaboratively, is better. They lend their work, or rather, they donate it, they give it back to the community and for a goal that aims to create something in commons that benefits all, not just a few.
Free Culture is constantly demonstrating its strength. Even on Windows, there are many people using free software. The only thing that remains of Internet Explorer are the memes about it, and no one wants anything to do with Windows Media Player. Everybody uses Mozilla Firefox to surf the internet. Many people use VLC, another free program, instead of the player given by Windows.
Years ago, at the dawn of the internet, nobody imagined that a community of people who believe in Free Culture could confront Microsoft, the former giant of the tech industry. Many years ago, to have the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia was a symbol of prestige, it was an almost obligatory reference material. Today, nobody remembers it.
Instead, Wikipedia, another community maintained by donations and volunteer work, is one of the 10 most visited pages in the world. Thousands of Wikipedians assure that its content is of quality and is useful to humanity. One doesn’t even need to be registered to contribute or to create an article. And most importantly, all of its content is free, available without any restriction for whoever wishes to use it, including commercial use.
The illustrations of this zine have been made in GIMP and InkScape based on content from the Wikipedia project. It has been written and edited in LibreOffice Writer, with the free font Goudy Bookletter 1911 from the typographer and Esperantist Barry Schwartz.
On top of using free software, this zine has been published under a free license. You can do many things with it, including taking off the staples and photocopying it. You can download it off the internet, you can download the text and add a prologue, an index, you can add chapters, you can get rid of the images and put whatever you want, you can translate it freely, or include it in an anthology, you don’t even need permission.
You can even make your own versions, copy them, give them away, or even sell them.
I myself have encountered photocopies of our publishing house’s work. We encourage people to do this, many of our books we make stapled like pamphlets so it’s easier to photocopy them, we put links to the original files or upload content to free websites like Wikipedia. Even the images we have shared freely are now in other books that we don’t even know of. We have even seen our images decorating the wall of some restaurant or their menu.
It has been a long time since we began questioning the idea of gratuity and the harmful effects it entails. Before continuing, I should clarify something very important, this book is not free. Do not believe those who say it is free. Such things do not exist, there is always, always someone who had to pay that cost, sometimes by means of robbery, sometimes by means of exploitation. Usually something is presented as free, by the government for example, was paid by everyone in reality, by taxes. The word “free” hides this fact.
Gratuity has another harmful effect and that is that it makes people used to simply receiving, stripping them of the capability to give back.
By normalizing the fact that there are free things, people become insensitive to the fact that these things cost someone something, whether it was by donation, robbery, or state subsidy.
Over several years we shared our knowledge in various workshops. One of the most successful was a bookbinding workshop. Since we believe in a world where interpersonal relationships matter more than money, we decided that the workshops would not require a fee, but a suggested donation.
Our error was thinking that, despite us insisting that the workshop was not free, that even showing up to the place where it was taught implied a cost for everyone, the grand majority of the people didn’t understand the reciprocity we were trying to create. They assumed that, just like public education or government programs, it was our duty to give it to them. All of the attendees, never, or almost never, contributed anything to the workshop. Maybe they were embarrassed, thinking their economic contribution was very small, but at the same time they were not embarrassed to go to the workshop without giving anything.
And I'm not talking about money, I made clear that they never gave a peso for the three-month workshop, but very often they took on a strange attitude: they arrived without greeting us, they left without saying goodbye, they avoided cooperation, they took collective material back to their house, they arrived late, they left early, they skipped class and wanted us to make up the classes, and at the end they even had the nerve to ask us to continue so that they could continue learning new techniques.
Something that we learned very quickly was to value our time, and we learned that the hard way. In the first few classes there were people who asked us to open a class on a different schedule because, for various reasons, they could not attend the program. At first we agreed, and to our surprise the people who we had given this extra time, taken from our personal lives, did not even show up to class.
When we ran into these people in the school hallways, sometimes they would not even greet or look at us, like we had never met.
Of course not everybody treated us in this fashion, a few understood that the workshop was more than a course in learning the technique of bookbinding, and treated it instead as the creation of community. These colleagues, although sometimes they too did not contribute economically, they always were available to help. Sometimes they brought food to share with the group, they stayed to the end to help clean the space, they arrived early to help set up the desks and chairs, they donated material and even took notes to continue teaching what they had learned to other people.
They became very valuable people in our lives, and always helped us when we needed it. More than friends, they are our comrades in the struggle, in our lives, in learning.
So if this book did not cost you anything it is because someone else has paid its price. This book, its contents, its making and its design were not free, they were a donation.
Wikipedia, GNU/Linux, our bookbinding workshops, other projects like Arduino, or the universal language Esperanto, all are examples that demonstrate that it is better to build a world based in community and that it is better to do it cooperating rather than competing. That everything should be for everyone, and that a minority should not oppress the rest.
This philosophy is reflected, in an abstract form, in various free licenses.
It may seem unbelievable when I tell you we have sold pirated books to their authors, and not only that, they even asked us to continue pirating their books. What I’ve just said will sound as strange as saying that the rights of the author do not protect the intellectual property of the authors, but it’s quite the opposite really, Copyright is more focused in censuring than protecting. A historical review, such as the one described in the zine Historia del Copyright (History of Copyright) will show us that the idea, Copyright, originated in government in order to be able to decide who can publish, what gets published, and how it gets published.
This is not the place to do a review of that history, but it’s enough to say that this censorship, although it may seem strange or anachronistic to us, continues living today. And it is more alive, of course, in one of the most ancient medieval institutes that survive today: the University.
Several of the authors that have asked us to pirate their books do so because their works have been printed and distributed by their universities. Although they have benefited in some manner from it, they have paid a very high price: they have ceded their authorial rights to the university publishers. They can hold authorship, but not the right to reproduce their work, that is to say, the Copyright.
The contributions of these researchers are very important, and because of this we decide to spread their work illegally. The results of their studies contradict the form in which hegemonic theory intends to make the world function. So the Institutions and Universities do something very smart; instead of censuring their works and halting their dissemination, thus converting them into prohibited yet attractive works, they publish them.
Obviously they do not promote them like revolutionary theories that will help to imagine and construct a better world, nor distribute them on a large scale with a hundred-mile-long print run, like they would with a mainstream author.
What these university publishers do is print extremely reduced editions. At UNAM, for example, if things go well, they will do 300 books, but they will never get published again. Some of these books are gifted to the authors, a few others are given to libraries or to researchers, but the majority remain indefinitely in the cellars of the universities, being misplaced, forgotten, or waiting for a sufficient amount of time for them to be thrown out without causing a major scandal, preventing readers from ever getting their hands on them. This is not an exaggeration, I have seen it with my own eyes.
The most terrible part of this reality is that if the author wants to take more books, they will have to buy them themselves, if they can find them, because if the ask for a reprint from their university, they will respond that they can no longer do that, that the book has already been published and they have to give the opportunity to other authors. A terrible and subtle system of censorship.
Due to this, there are authors who turn to self-piracy, because they can no longer print their book themselves, since they have ceded their rights of publication to their institutions and their works simply do not circulate. They have sold their soul to the devil, as they say.
Although in these cases piracy helps the spread of ideas, we believe that it is a last resort. It’s because of this that we publish under free licenses that permit the diffusion of the works and guarantee their free access.
These licenses have their origin in the beginnings of technology, in the moment in which students and professors had to program almost everything for themselves. Then, if someone created a program, for example, to connect a printer to a computer, they would share the code with everyone freely, and it could be used, studied, disseminated, or improved under a very simple condition: that it continues to be shared under the same principles under which it was released.
As time passed, these licenses took different forms and adapted themselves to different situations, but in the beginning the idea was the same; that it was better to cooperate than to compete.
Although they have presented themselves as abstract social conventions, free licenses in reality are relations between people. By placing a license on a work one is explaining how the work is going to be used by a third person, who they usually don’t know. It is always better for publishers and authors to arrive at an agreement, but when they cannot, the license’s help is very useful.
The least free would be Copyright, the “all rights reserved”. On the other side we have Copyleft, the public domain, or the “no rights reserved”. In these cases the author has the “inalienable” right to be recognized as the author of their work, although that does not imply that they should be mentioned as such. Even so, there are people who decide to voluntarily renounce this right of authorship and publish their work in an anonymous form, but that’s another story.
In the middle of these two ends of the author’s rights spectrum there are many possibilities, but it’s enough to say that the variations are focused on relaxing or restricting the rights to share the work, to make derived works, to cite the source, to use commercially, or to share under the same licenses. In any of these cases, we refer to it as “some rights reserved”.
The most popular licenses of this type are called Creative Commons, and allow the creators to specify which rights they decide to give up and which they decide to reserve.
Licenses, then, are more than just a sentence in a legal page of a book, they are a declaration of the type of relation there is between the creators and the beneficiaries (the users).
There is another thing that needs clarification: legally speaking, the liberties of licenses are additive, for example, people cannot take away liberties from something that is released under public domain that restrict its diffusion. On the contrary, something that has author’s rights can, under many conditions, add liberties. This commonly happens with works of authors who have been dead for a long time.
Even so, there are publishers that publish works that are in the public domain, as an example, Don Quijote, but their legal page reads “All rights reserved, reproduction of this book in any form is prohibited.” This is a truth and a lie, and at the same time a trap, because the publisher cannot revoke the liberties of the work of Cervantes, which has for a while belonged to the public domain, but the publisher can reclaim rights of derived works, its typography, layout, illustrations, cover art, translation, etc.
In this fashion, things in the public domain can become not-free derived works. It’s a complex subject.
But I don’t wish to speak of this type of project, but of the ones that are alternative, free, autonomous, or whatever you want to call it.
In the case of this book, it could have been decided to release it under a public domain license, reserving me no rights over it. Like we have seen, the public domain, Copyleft, is the maximum amount of liberty in which a work can be published with. But, since the license does not prohibit it explicitly, others can make derived works with licenses that aren’t free. Because of this, I have opted for another type of license that guarantees the liberty of sharing, using, and even selling.
The majority of the material that circulates with independent publishers and projects have a good amount of liberties, many creators do not have any problem with publicly sharing their work except for one thing: commercial use. It’s most common to encounter that this is the only right which they reserve. I believe this is the point least understood in the world of free licenses.
And I believe we are confused with respect to this because the concepts that it encompasses are not explained correctly.
If somebody puts a license permitting its “free, non-profit spread” on a book, what is profit supposed to mean? If I, as a cooperative, take the book, reproduce and sell it, am I profiting off of it? If some government likes my work and decides to republish it and give it away for free, do I agree with that? If some publishing corporation takes the book, reprints it and sells it at a reasonable price, is that talking about profit or earnings?
I believe that profit is an ambiguous word that to some means pejoratively “excessive and abusive benefit”, and to other simply “earnings” or “financial gains”.
I definitively believe that we should eliminate this word from our vocabulary, and from our licenses, or at least clearly define the conditions of the different types of monetary exchange that exist.
Here is where one realizes that licenses are more than abstract words in a book. They are more than legal terms. They are stories of people, of the process of creation and distribution, of human relations. They are declarations of principles that should be respected, and if they aren’t, it’s better to put nothing at all.
And I say that they are more than legal terms because on more than one occasion it has occurred that a Copyrighted work has been pirated by businesses or governments without the “legitimate” owner of those rights starting a legal battle against a huge corporation.
And I say they are declarations of principles because beyond “legality”, in a license you are saying how you believe your world should function.
Don’t be like the anarchists that put “pirate and spread” and then get bothered when they see someone else reproduced their book. Don’t be like the publisher that says that you can reprint their book, but when you talk to them directly to ask for the file, they tell you in secret that it’s not possible. Or like those other projects that say “no commercial use” and when you tell them that you want to reproduce their book they ask for a percentage of the euros to give you the file.
Because of this I say it clear as day, don’t put a license on a work if you don’t believe in it.
With our former publisher we opted for a Creative Commons license, until we found La Licencia de Producción de Pares (Peer Production License), which we adapted to better fit our requirements.
This license, like the name says, is focused on the production and reproduction of works between peers. It can be summed up in three points, and of them the last, the one regarding non-capitalist reproduction, was the one that interested us most.
As pointed out by the Spanish journalist Bernardo Gutiérrez: the Copyfarleft or the “Peer Production Licenses” goes beyond Copyleft, and this “could be very efficient to stop the exploitation of the commons on the part of multinational corporations and purely capitalist businesses. It is also an interesting option for open hardware: maybe small tech firms will encourage the release of their code knowing that large multinational corporations will not take advantage of their knowledge.”
This book is a donation, I wrote it as a gift to a (future) community of creators. This book is for everyone.
I have written it so that anybody can read and share it, but above all so that it can be reflected on by editors, designers, and creators in general. It intends to tackle complex themes in simple language, and because of this it is full of things I’ve learned and anecdotes that have happened to me. I know that there are many things that are not sufficiently developed here, but I hope that the curiosity of the reader has been awakened.
This book is not a free sample, but it is a free sample of the principles of creative freedom that guide us to build a better world.
The free learning, the gift, the payment, the reciprocity are the moments where people get back our ability to create community.
Community is the place where people create, enjoy, and share in freedom.
Or how we used to say in our bookbinding workshops:
“If you have a coin and I have another, and each one of us gives our coin to the other, we are both left with only one coin.
But if you have an idea and I have another, and each one of us shares our idea with the other, we are left with two ideas.”
Now it is your turn to continue sharing,
Cuicuilco, February 11, 2017