Almost every sector of activity today depends on computer codes that are protected by patents from which large firms collect income. Can we free ourselves from these codes?
[NOTE: Due to copyrights, the full film will be removed on November 1.]
Computing has infiltrated almost all human activities of today’s world. Has it contributed to making us more self-reliant ? Or has it turned us into the passive consumers of what has become a total market ? Without our being aware of it, two movements are fighting each other at the very heart of technology, and the emancipating principles of the Free Software movement have challenged the exclusive and private rights of intellectual property since the 1980s.
For decades, Big Data multinationals, generally referred to as GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft) have sought to simplify, even infantilize our relationship with the digital world and ultimately with the world around us. Their designers assume that the less we know, the more we will behave as captive clients and passive citizens and the more we will be kept under control, without our knowledge. Yet this is not necessarily an inevitable fate, and many initiatives around the world show us that it is still possible to regain control of our tools, whether digital or not.
Free software, free seeds, open source hardware, generic medicine or alternative treatments and free access to knowledge… Objects, devices, machines, concepts, reproducible to infinity by all who wish, thanks to the free distribution of their blueprints. The founding legal principles of Free Software serve as an example with the battle won against the dominant proprietary model. Since then, collective and contributing practices of “Free” are flourishing in many other domains. By stressing the importance of freedom, cooperation and sharing, they revive the users’ autonomy and power. They can as such contribute to the emergence of a world that might be liberated of patents for the benefit of the Common. Which is perhaps the challenge of these utopias; every large-scale social and political revolution is above all a cultural revolution.
In this film, we meet the unusual personalities of this still marginal world of “Free”, and its opponents, in India, France, Switzerland and the United States.
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