0th World Intellectual Freedom Day


Choose a good future: replace intellectual property with intellectual freedom, #worldipday with #worldifday https://wifo.org/ifday/
Stand up for freedom, equality, security: replace #worldipday with #worldifday https://wifo.org/ifday/
Intellectual property eats the world, intellectual freedom feeds the world: replace #worldipday with #worldifday https://wifo.org/ifday/
Want conflict, hierarchy, gross inequality? #worldipday Want autonomy and abundance for all? #worldifday https://wifo.org/ifday/
Stand up for drug & movie marketing budgets: #worldipday For free speech & open innovation: #worldifday https://wifo.org/ifday/


World Intellectual Freedom Day occupies April 26, the same day World Intellectual Property* Day has been observed since 2001. A 1999 proposal for World IP Day begins:

Since the 21st Century will be an era of knowledge-based economy and information technologies, where intellectual property will be one major factor for pushing forward social and economic development, to establish and improve gradually the intellectual property protection system has turned out to be of vital importance, either in developed or developing countries, to the national economy, people’s livelihood and international relations.

This gets the nature of the era and importance of knowledge policy right, but the impact of subjecting knowledge to a property regime is so readily assumed to be beneficial to be not called out as such. The assumption is totally wrong. IP is a major factor pushing forward social and economic inequality, control, and conflict. It is of vital importance to turn out IP, for doing so will obtain increases in freedom, equality, and security. These are precisely the outcomes needed for a good future of autonomy and abundance for all.

Trading off freedom, equality, and security for spectacle, as IP does, is a tragic error and will lead to dystopia. It is of vital importance to replace IP with freedom, even for international relations: in the era with knowledge as the commanding heights of the economy, it is extremely dangerous to subject knowledge to a property regime: inequality resulting from IP is destabilizing, and worse, IP will lead to new trade wars, which could easily spiral into violent conflict.

While it is necessary to continuously fight the latest new encroachment of IP (take a moment), reforms calling for balance are inadequate: they challenge neither the wisdom of trading off freedom, equality, and security for spectacle nor the structure of knowledge production aligned with this trade. Commons-based (often identified as free, libre, or open) knowledge production is the most promising (feasible, effective, sustainable) reform and restructuring of knowledge policy and the knowledge economy in the direction of a good future, as such production is generative of freedom, equality, and security; and simultaneously destroys rents dependent on freedom infringing policy, diminishing the constituency for such policy, and grows the constituency and policy imagination for freedom respecting policy.

The remainder of this page suggests some activities intended to be accessible for a general audience to celebrate World Intellectual Freedom Day while promoting commons-based production and commons-favoring policy.

* Or “Intellectual monopoly”, or “intellectual privilege”, or “intellectual parasitism”, or copyright, patent, etc., as you wish – whatever the words, treating knowledge as property has terrible outcomes.


Suggested messages for social media are at the top of this page.


Sita Sings the Blues the amazing film by Nina Paley is emblematic of intellectual freedom as an issue, in both traditional (think “banned books”; it interprets a religious story) and IP-as-censorship forms – although Paley has placed the film in the public domain, some of the music she used, recorded in the 1920s, has turned out to not be free of restrictions.

Read more about the film at Wikipedia and watch it at YouTube, with captions in many languages, or at the Internet Archive (also below).

QuesitonCopyright.org’s Sita Distribution Project has helped make the film widely seen. How to expand peer production of popularity and cultural relevance, and thus compete with proprietary marketing and distribution channels? Share your ideas.


Mozilla, the non-profit maker of Firefox, has for over a decade been one of and perhaps the most crucial single entity in keeping the web relatively open. With a larger market share they could do more and take stronger stands. Read the Mozilla Manifesto.


You’ve heard of Wikipedia, right? It’s only the largest of several commons-based mass collaboration projects of the Wikimedia movement, all striving “to bring about a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” Explore them; you’ll certainly find something new and useful, and likely something to contribute.


Commons-favoring knowledge policy comes in several forms; each can be enacted to some extent at individual, organizational, and governmental levels.

Policies requiring that knowledge created by the enacting entity be put in the commons (usually, offered under a free/libre/open license).

Policies requiring the knowledge creation funded by the enacting entity be put in the commons.

Policies requiring that knowledge used (often that means procured) by the enacting entity be in the commons.

Policies liberalizing or regulating use of knowledge by third parties, in specific ways that protect commons-based production from property restrictions or that make more knowledge available for use in commons-based production. Without legal changes, these can only be enacted in a limited way (through analogous license permissions and conditions).

To varying degrees (e.g., in early stages often “allowing” takes the place of “requiring”) the first three forms are being pursued as public policy by the Free/Libre/Open Source Software, Open Access, Open Data, Open Educational Resources, and Open Government movements. But these forms’ potential in those fields has been barely tapped, they have almost not been applied at all as public policy to cultural production, and they are not yet seen as a primary mechanism for reforming knowledge policy and the knowledge economy. Further, (de)regulation with the aim of favoring commons-based production is an almost unknown concept. You can help change that!


Critique, feedback, bug reports, suggestions, planning for 2016, all welcome at a forum topic on World Intellectual Freedom Day, or anywhere else you care to share.