A month of only free content

For the next month (i.e. from 16th July 2011 to 15th August 2011) I will only read/watch/listen to legally free media (audio, video, books, whatever). The biggest changes will be reading only free ebooks (something I have been doing a lot of lately, anyway) and listening only to free music.

The rules

I am using the word free to mean free of cost and not subject to DRM. I do not feel that content needs the full range of freedom needed for true free software. I do not think it is important to be able to modify books or music – although its nice if you can, it is not essential.

It must be legally free — nothing pirated!

On the other hand DRM needs to be avoided because content subject to DRM may not work on the device you want to use it on, may cease to be transferable to new devices (as happened with Microsoft’s Plays for Sure DRM) or may even be deleted while you are in the middle or reading of watching it (as happened to a Kindle edition of 1984). That is not enough for me, I want to be able to read, and re-read as I wish.

I am not going to worry about every subtlety of copyright law. If it is legally available in a major economy (e.g. the US or the UK) I am not going to bother checking licensing details and copyright expiries. If its legally on the internet, that meets my criteria.

I will also make exceptions for helping other people (especially helping my children with books and studies), anything that my work requires me to read. I also cannot help listening to music other people put on.

Print copies of books that are available free are also OK.

Although I spend more time with books than anything else, the big problem will be music. I simply do not have very much good free music, and I do not know where to find it. Video is not a problem: I do not own a TV, and rarely watch DVDs. One problem is checking the legality of video on sites like Youtube: is it authorised?, if not is it fair use (a short clip for certain purposes may be?), etc.

Why do this?

  1. just to see what happens.
  2. To encourage myself an other to look for free media rather than take the lazy route of picking up whatever has the marketing budget.
  3. To test the value of the public domain, and of works available under free licences, which has many implications for arguments about copyright law.

Free media I already consume

A lot.

I spend a lot of time of the web, which is a huge amount of free to read or watch material. This is not what this experiment is about, and everyone does it, so I will not comment on it further.

I have taken to reading a lot of free ebooks, and this has been much of what I have read over the last few weeks.

I have found some free films (movies) and video series I have enjoyed. Pioneer One is not brilliant, but worth watching. It is well made, but the acting is variable. The Yes Men Fix the World is funny and makes a serious point. I also enjoyed watching Sita Sings the Blues with my children — the first time anyway, they watched it over and over again.


I will post soon about the free books I have been reading recently, and will follow up with progress reports on how the experiment progresses.

My biggest worry is that there will be some non-free book I just cannot resist picking up and reading.

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