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Free Culture Research Workshop

Harvard Law School October 23, 2009

Sponsored by: Berkman, NEXA, iCommons

The Free Culture 2009 research workshop builds on the enthusiasm generated by the First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture which took place during the 2008 iSummit in Sapporo, Japan. It presents a unique opportunity for scholars whose work contributes to the promotion, study or criticism of an emerging Free Culture, to engage with a multidisciplinary group of academic peers and practitioners, identify the most important research opportunities and challenges, and attempt to chart the future of Free Culture.

Our aim is to provide an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to discuss their findings, experiences, and vision for a Free Culture with peers whose backgrounds extend beyond individual disciplines, because we believe that the wider participation in the creative process (and consequently in the formation and dissemination of our modern culture) enabled by new Internet technologies, innovative legal solutions and new business models, are far-reaching and therefore deserve to be examined through the lens of multidisciplinary inquiry. More specifically, this year's workshop will be focused on:

(a) participant interaction and joint reflection on key findings from cutting edge research in the field (b) the development of a research agenda, with the identification of key topics for future research (c) facilitating research collaborations and exchange of ideas between different academic institutions engaged in Free Culture research (d) fostering useful academic outputs over the next 12+ months (e) considering policy recommendations or a policy orientation that may emerge as a result of Free Culture research and scholarship

Program design and participant selection will be guided by these objectives, as set by the organizing committee in consultation with the host institution.


The event will consist mainly of sessions oriented towards discussion and idea generation. The organizing committee will therefore strive to convene those parties that will be most helpful in engendering dialogue and providing perspectives on the future of free culture research. To that end we will do our utmost to convene academics and others who have already made an impact with their works and actions in shaping the landscape of free culture. An open call for short essays (similar in length to an extended abstract, for details see below) will complement this effort and provide opportunities for wider participation and discussion. Submitted essays will be reviewed by the program committee and the authors of accepted submissions will be invited to attend the event. We will only be able to accept a small number of participants through the open call given the small size of the event, and we seek your understanding in this respect. Every accepted essay will be disseminated before, during and after the workshop and will provide useful inputs for the structuring of the discussions and working sessions to take place during the event. However, we wish to emphasize that the focus this year will be on participant interaction and idea generation rather than on traditional podium presentation. Being invited to the workshop is therefore also not a guarantee that you will be able to present your own work, but rather an invitation to contribute your expertise and perspectives to the discussions and outcomes that the workshop will foster.

This is a draft agenda and will change as we approach the date of the workshop. As we mentioned in the invitation, there will be few formal talks, rather, but with your help, we are confident that everyone will have both an interest in and ability to participate meaningfully. To that end, we will identify moderators for sessions 2-4 listed on the wiki who will help lead discussions around the emergent themes identified and clustered with related essays.

All sessions will take place in Hauser Hall Room 104 at Harvard Law School. (Map:

08:30 - 09:00 Breakfast at Hauser Hall, Room 104

09:00 - 09:15 Welcome: Introduction to event and reiteration of workshop's aims

09:15 - 10:45 Session 1: Substantive Introductions and General Framing

10:45 - 11:00 Break

11:00 - 12:30 Session 2: Lessons from Practice

Moderator: Aaron Shaw (Berkman Center/UC Berkeley)

  • What are successful models of organization and motivation in online communities that focus on commons-based peer production?
  • How successfully have Creative Commons and other similar initiatives managed to mobilize resources, as well as set and communicate their agenda at a global level?
  • What is the real impact and user perceptions of open licensing around the world and how do these differ from (local and global) expectations?

Related essays: (note: essays often raise multiple related issues and thus often do not fall squarely under one theme - this categorization is for practical purposes only)

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch at Hauser Hall, Room 104

13:30 - 15:00 Session 3: Free Culture and the Marketplace

Moderator: James Grimmelmann (NY Law School)

  • Do creators operate differently in commercial vis-a-vis non-commercial environments? How can we best explore how social psychological, hedonic and financial motivations for production and participation play out in practice?
  • Is it possible to reconcile private property and intellectual commons without falling into contradiction, or is the commons-based paradigm of production destined to antagonize the logic of markets?
  • How much control does the market need to operate effectively and how much freedom can it tolerate?

Related essays: (note: essays often raise multiple related issues and thus often do not fall squarely under one theme - this categorization is for practical purposes only)

15:00 - 15:15 Short Break

15:15 - 16:45 Session 4: Free Culture in Society

Moderator: Nagla Rizk (American University in Cairo)

  • Can Creative Commons be reconceptualized as a social movement? Is Free Culture the goal of this movement and if so, what does it mean really? What are the implications of regarding CC and related efforts as elements of a social movement? Or are there better ways of thinking about CC and Free Culture?
  • What are the broader social and political implications of efforts towards a Free Culture and how are these perceived by third parties? Also, how can we develop a more nuanced understanding of 'freedom', that is more inclusive of different perspectives?
  • How do we envision a future of social engagement around issues of freedom and control on the Internet? What will be at stake and how can advocates of more open models of production and self-expression be more effective in influencing policy?

Related essays: (note: essays often raise multiple related issues and thus often do not fall squarely under one theme - this categorization is for practical purposes only)

16:45 - 17:00 Short Break

17:00 - 18:00 Session 5: From ideas to results - how do we tackle the grand challenges?

Moderators: Giorgos Cheliotis (National University of Singapore) and Elizabeth Stark (Yale ISP)

19:00 - 21:00 Food for Thought Dinners


  • Sessions 2-4: themes identified by organizers based on invited essays. A moderator will introduce the theme for each session and summarize the key points in related essays. Then all participants will be invited to discuss any and all issues pertaining to the theme.
  • Session 5: moderator will wrap up the key themes of the workshop and any issues that may have emerged during previous sessions. The floor will then open for all participants to provide additional comments and recommendations on actionable items that could help move research and practice on these issues forward.

Written Submissions

Food for Thought Dinners

Food for Thought dinners will take place at 7:00PM, and hour after the workshop ends. The dinners allow workshop attendees to engage in informal, themed conversation with other participants. We’ve made the reservationsall you have to do is show up and enjoy! Please note that attendees will pay their own dinner costs.

Attendance is limited to eight people per dinner. Please add your name to the dinner you want to attend below. If you decide not to attend a dinner to which you are signed up, please delete yourself from the list. If you have any questions, please email Amar at

Restaurant locations and maps are listed with each dinner. For restaurants in Harvard Square, expect approximately a 10 minute walk from Harvard Law School.

Please add your name by 5PM ET today. All reservations are under the name "Berkman Center".

What Next?

Topic: future outputs and next year's workshop. If you're interested in hosting next year's event or want to play a role in organizing the production of future outputs from this workshop, please enter your name here!

  1. Giorgos Cheliotis
  2. Mayo Fuster Morell
  3. Philipp Schmidt
  4. Marcos García
  5. Andoni Alonso
  6. Kristin Eschenfelder
  7. Lisa Petrides


Topic: Hackers, pirates, samizdat writers & other creators of de facto auntonomies, and the things we can learn from them AND/OR managing cultural economies beyond the market / governance of commons

  1. Bodó Balázs
  2. Zac Zimmer
  3. Thomas Haigh
  4. Maria Haigh
  5. Nagla Rizk

Dinner 3

  1. Insert name
  2. Insert name

Creative Commons

Topic: Creative Commons as a transnational epistemic community and social movement (tribute to this paper) or just a meeting of CC affiliates and interested collaborators

  1. Mike Linksvayer
  2. Alek Tarkowski
  3. Larry Lessig
  4. Sonya Dunne
  5. Donnie Dong
  6. Yuri Takhteyev
  7. Tyng-Ruey Chuang
  8. Jude Yew


Add links to articles, research, people and more.


Please add your email address / contact info / updated affiliation if you would like to connect with other attendees.

  1. Philippe Aigrain | | Sopinspace, Society for Public Information Spaces
  2. Andoni Alonso | Commons Lab, Medialab-Prado
  3. Amar Ashar | | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  4. Bodo Balázs | Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  5. Brian Ballentine | West Virginia University
  6. Yochai Benkler | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  7. Giorgos Cheliotis | | National University of Singapore
  8. Diane Cabell | | iCommons Ltd.
  9. Tyng-Ruey Chuang | Academia Sinica, Taiwan
  10. Julie Cohen | Georgetown Law/HLS
  11. Gabriella Coleman | New York University
  12. Juan Carlos de Martin | | NEXA Center for Internet & Society
  13. Leonhard Dobusch | | Free University Berlin / blog
  14. Judith Donath | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  15. Donnie Hao Dong | | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  16. Sonya Dunne | | Writer
  17. Kristin Eschenfelder | UW Madison | |
  18. Terry Fisher | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  19. Brian Fitzgerald | Queensland University of Technology
  20. Marcos García | | Commons Lab, Medialab-Prado
  21. Urs Gasser | | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  22. Volker Grassmuck | vgrass <at> | independent researcher, Universidade de São Paulo
  23. James Grimmelman | NY Law School
  24. Maria Haigh | | & Thomas Haigh | | UW-Milwaukee, School of Information Studies
  25. Herko Hietanen | Helsinki Institute of Information Technology
  26. Mathias Klang | Lund University
  27. Ronaldo Lemos | Fundacao Getulio Vargas
  28. Lawrence Lessig | Harvard Law School
  29. Sheen Levine | Singapore Management University
  30. Mike Linksvayer | Creative Commons
  31. Colin Maclay | | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  32. Mayo Fuster Morell | | European University Institute and Free culture forum (Barcelona)
  33. John Palfrey | Berkman Center
  34. Lisa Petrides | | Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME)OER Commons
  35. Jhessica F. Reia | GPOPAI - Universidade de São Paulo | |
  36. Wolf Richter | OII
  37. Nagla Rizk | American University in Cairo
  38. Carolina Rossini | Berkman Center
  39. Jan Philipp Schmidt | AT | P2PU/ UNU MERIT/ Shuttleworth Foundation
  40. Aaron Shaw | | Berkman/UC Berkeley
  41. Elizabeth Stark | | Yale University
  42. Rebecca Tabasky | | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  43. Yuri Takhteyev | | University of Toronto
  44. Alek Tarkowski | | University of Warsaw / CC Poland
  45. Anas Tawileh | Cardiff University
  46. Frank Tobia | | Georgetown University
  47. Ariel Vercelli | NGO Bienes Comunes and Universidad Nacional de Quilmes
  48. Eric Von Hippel | MIT Sloan
  49. Jude Yew | | University of Michigan
  50. Zac Zimmer | | Cornell University
  51. Jonathan Zittrain | Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Logistical Information

  • Participation Tools
    • Twitter / Identica hashtag: #fc09 It would be nice to know twitter names associated with real names:
      • Lisa Petrides: lpetrides


1. What did you like about this workshop?

2. What do you think we could have done better?

3. What would you like to see in a follow-up event next year?

4. Other comments, thoughts, and questions.