A freesoul is ...

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Dear Charlie Nesson ,

THIS IS A LONG letter to a FREE SOUL. We know you, because you know Joi Ito. And this letter is to YOU »

THIS IS A LETTER about a book-in-progress: «FREESOULS» by Joi Ito »

And we want you to TAKE PART »

_ 0 _ DEAR FREESOULS
_ 1 _ A Letter From JOI ITO
_ 2 _ Foreword by Lawrence Lessig
_ 3 _ "A Freesoul is..."
_ 4 _ INSTRUCTIONS


[ 0 ] DEAR FREESOULS

We are now bringing to print the very best of Joi Ito's portrait photography, in a new book titled «FREESOULS». We would like you to take part, as you have come face to face with this cynosure of sharing. Joi has made a fine image of you, and now he wants you to make it FREE »

Below you will find A Letter from JOI ITO about the book, as well as an excerpt from the Foreword by Lawrence Lessig. Most importantly, we have attached a MODEL RELEASE FORM, an important new legal document provided by Creative Commons, which will make your image a part of this project. In order to set your image free for the world, please read and consider the release (ATTACHED) and follow the INSTRUCTIONS below »

If you have been marking Joi's progress as a digital photographer, you will realize that it is only in the last year that this project has become eminently feasible. We hope that this book will stand as a new model for free culture publishing »

Thank you for your freedom »

Sincerely,

Christopher ADAMS & CHIANG Huei-Hsien
The FREESOULS Editors
(Taipei, TAIWAN)

[ 1 ] A Letter from JOI ITO

Greetings and apologies for the long email. I am working with Christopher and his team to put together a photography book which is about all of the inspirational moments and inspirational people from the last year. I have been lucky to be able to capture many of those moments in my photography and I am hoping that a book will be a good way to provide context for and share those moments with a wider audience of people.

While discussing the book with Christopher and a variety of advisors, we decided to license the book under a Creative Commons Attribution license which would allow people to freely download the book and reuse the book in parts or in its entirety. I continue to be confident that in many cases, making a freely downloadable version of the book increases the demand for the printed book.

In June of last year, I realized that many of the images of my friends on Wikipedia were poor quality or did not exist. This was most often caused by the lack of copyright clearance, even to one’s own images. I made it my mission to free the souls of my friends so that everyone, including themselves, could use the images that I captured for Wikipedia and other worthy projects. Lawrence Lessig suggested I use the term “Freesouls”. I wrote a blog post about this. Since then, I’ve been tagging my portraits with the tag “Freesouls” and have been making them available on Flickr.

While this is one step towards having photographs of people available for Wikipedia, bloggers, teachers and others, it is really not enough. In addition to copyright, in most countries, there are a variety of other rights associated to the photograph of a person which must be released by the subject of the photograph.

For the sake of this project and for the sake of the commons, I am asking everyone in my book to make a contribution and free their souls and help me make the images in the book and on my Flickr stream truly free. I ask that you make available to me and anyone who wants to use your image, the right to do so without asking permission. I have attached a model release form which I would like you to sign and return which grants this right.

Please read the agreement before you sign in, but it essentially allows your images to be used for anything except promotion of a product, as endorsement or in advertising except in the promotion and advertising of the book. It does allow people who download the images to reuse and even modify the images for commercial use.

If you do not feel comfortable with this, please let us know and we will omit you from the collection of freesouls.

Thanks in advance.

  • Joi

[ 2 ] Foreword by Lawrence Lessig

The following has been excerpted from Lawrence Lessig's foreword to the book «FREESOULS»: “Joi Ito has been at the center of critical movements to make technology, and creative freedom, available widely. He loves his profession, and he does it well. Mornings for him do not begin with the regret of who he couldn't be.

“But his success in these fields has also given him an understanding of the people in these fields. In the twenty-some years of his work, he has come to know the people of these industries (both commercial and non-profit) well. They are his friends (Ito has no enemies). He engages them as a friend, always concerned and giving, never short or impatient. He understands them by learning to see them in a certain way. He engages them with the love of friendship by learning to see them in the most beautiful, or distinctive way, possible.

“Digital technologies have now given us a way to see just how Joi sees the world. By lowering the cost of access and practice, the technologies have allowed Ito to become an accomplished amateur. But 'accomplished' in this context means that he has learned how to capture the person he sees. And unlike the professional photographer, who ordinarily has 10 minutes to come to 'know' the person he photographs, Ito has had his whole professional career. He knows these people, he has come to see them in their most beautiful, or extraordinary light, and he has perfected an ability to capture what he sees, and share it with all of us.

“This book is the product of that extraordinary talent. This book is also the result of his frustration with two things, one the product of law, the other not. The legal frustration was with the complex rules (called 'copyright') that limited the ability of websites to include photographs of the figures they discussed. Wikipedia, for example, might have the very best biography of John Lennon, but it could not legally secure any photograph of Lennon, consistent with the rules of copyright and the freedom it attached to its encyclopedia. The non-legal frustration was that even if there were images that were free to use, they were usually of poor quality -- both in the sense that the actual digital file was too small to be used in most media rich contexts, and in the sense that the photograph was not very good.

“So Ito sought to address these two problems through the launch of a 'FreeSouls' project: He would use his talent as an accomplished photographer and his understanding of the people he photographed to produce high quality digital images of these people that he would then make freely available, not just in the sense that anyone could download them, but also in the sense that they were expressly licensed for any use, commercial or not, so long as Joi was given attribution.

“The contribution of this project will only be measured finally when we have a clear sense of how many others follow Ito's lead. But we can already learn the lessons from this project by paying attention to this beautiful book. Ito's main contribution is not to the New York Times' of the world, who will be able to freely use these images without paying Ito any compensation (save attribution). His main contribution is instead artistic, as the art here captures its subjects beautifully because the artist understands something profound about the art he captures. Like Capa and war, Ito understands these people. His arts shows us their soul (freely). And this understanding comes from the fact that Ito is not a professional photographer, but is instead a professional elsewhere, who has used the understanding he has gained their to show us about people here.

“There are many examples in these pages. My favorite is the photograph of Cory Doctorow. Doctorow is a successful science fiction novelist. Most of his work has been made freely available under Creative Commons licenses; some his best work is commercially available as well as available freely. Among his many fascinations, Cory is obsessed with Disney. The Magic Kingdom is, for Cory, really magic. Much of his creative energy has been the inspiration that place rightly inspires.

“But at the same time, Cory is also an activist, often against the interests of Disney. ('Love the sin, hate the sinner,' as he puts it). For unlike Cory (or Joi), Disney exercises a punitive control over its creative empire. It uses its power to get Congress to extend that empire (by stopping the public domain from reclaiming older works), and to get Courts to protect it (by suing artists who would do to Disney what Disney did to the Brothers Grimm).

“Ito's photograph of Cory captures this complex soul perfectly. The shot is from the side, looking down at a smile, or smirk -- we can't quite tell -- impish and yet powerful at the same time, joyous yet driven with a passion to create. Anyone who knows Cory will recognize his soul in this free image. For those who don't, they will be given a clue. This is art at its best, enabled because the artists is not a professional.

“Beyond the contribution to art, Ito has also contributed something important the digital community has helped create. Those who build in the sharing economy that the Internet has produced — from blogs, to Flickr, to Wikipedia — now have a free and legal way to show a certain respect to the people who Ito's eye and understanding has captured so well. These images will be usable freely (with attribution), and available in a quality that makes them usable in print as well in film; they will come bundled with a model release that assures their free use, anywhere. This is a free gift to many who could pay for it, no doubt. But it is an extraordinarily valuable gift to many who could not, but who still want to create.

“In this way, and many others, our community owes Joi Ito more than we could pay, and certainly much more than he would ever accept.”


[ 3 ] "A Freesoul is..."


We already have your image, but if possible, we would also like your words. Please find 50 to 70 words to complete this thought:


"A Freesoul is..."

[ 4 ] INSTRUCTIONS

You can find your portrait, which we would like to include in this project, on Joi's Flickr page:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/549467806/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/549527709/


Please read the MODEL RELEASE FORM (ATTACHED). If you agree to the terms of the release, please print and sign it.

To participate in the project:

Mail a copy of the signed release to 2-22-3-102 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo.
OR
Reply to this email (tanaka.m@garage.co.jp), with the following text in the body. Please let us know how you would like your name to appear:

"I agree to the terms and conditions of the model release form for Joichi Ito's images of me." "I would like my name to appear in the project as Charlie Nesson "

If you can, please also include your response to [ 3 ], "A Freesoul is..."