Free information

Card's author : Daniel Mathieu et SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : In numerous countries (among which France and the USA) copyright applies automatically and as soon as a work of cultural genius is produced, protecting the work and its author.
And anyone wishing to broadcast, publish, modify the work must request permission from the author, whom will grant it (or not) freely or at high expense .
Free licenses are "ready-to- use" legal texts, enabling the author to give wider rights to some people on his work, without necessarily having specific legal knowledge.
Far from ignoring copyrights, free licenses acknowledge and protect them !

While the usual practice of the law of literary and artistic property leads to restrict public from accessing the works, "free licenses" are intended to promote it. Indeed, all creators of work are not hostile to see their works disseminated. On the contrary, a number of them would like a wide diffusion (music, photograph) and even modifications, improvements or personalization (training course, article, software). Yet by default (in French law and some other countries), works of the mind are protected in a strictest way to propose the biggest protection possible for authors.
Free licenses therefore allow authors who wish it and with no specific legal knowledge, to "liberate" their works to facilitate their dissemination, while protecting them as these licenses are enforceable in the national law of the author.

How to "release" a work ?

By combining a user agreement to the work in order to (according to the license):
  • Authorize users to reproduce and disseminate the work freely and with no authorization
  • Allow the modification of the initial work
  • Authorize or not the commercial use of the work
  • Oblige every person modifying its work to broadcast the new work according to the same licence.

Free information, what for ?

  • To facilitate the diffusion of knowledges
  • To create commons
  • To authorize collaboration in order to develop a work, a software

Open Source Software

  • From the Linux experience (30 million lines of collaborative programs)
  • Widened to numerous software on the net: LAMP system (Linux, Apache, MySql , Php), Open Office...
  • Several possible licenses: BSD, GNU/GPL, CeCILL (Cea, Cnrs, Inria)
  • The sources of the software must be free of access: specific server (CVS)
  • GPL imposes to transfer to the diverted software the same rights as those of the initial software ; GPLL doesn't.

Other Open Source Software

  • Licence art libre: licence applying copyleft to art. This licence allows diffusion, modifications under the condition that the modified work is under the same licence.
  • In France : Public License information freely reusable allows the diffusion, the reuse of public data, commercially or not. All public data are not yet under this license.

The Creative Commons licenses

System of free and multilingual licenses offering a panel of solutions suitable for all works. They have been adapted to French laws by the CERSA (dependant of the CNRS).
Possible choices:
  • Do you authorize commercial uses of your work ?
  • Do you authorize modifications on your work ?
  • If so, under the condition that the derived works are shared according to the same conditions as the initial work.
Affixing the logo corresponding to the chosen licence will be enough to protect the work.
To choose the licence and get the right logo.correspondant:

Where to find Free works ?

Using free works (respecting their conditions of license) means respecting the author's work and taking part to the approach.
In practice :


Creatives Commons

Free public data


  • AIGRAIN, Philippe. Cause commune: l’information entre bien commun et propriété. Paris : Fayard, 2005. Transversales (Paris. 2005), ISSN 1772-5216. ISBN -213-62305-

Credits: Official logo for the Definition of Free Cultural Works by Marc Falzon - Public domain