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Artificial scarcity: beyond the digital

Shauna Gordon-McKeon

Digital resources such as software programs can be easily copied and shared, but distribution is restrained by technical, legal, and cultural means. The free culture community is not the first to fight "artificial scarcity." What can we learn from other communities and movements?

This presentation is a series of case studies covering a variety of other forms of artificial scarcity, including food waste, housing vacancy, and the destruction of excess retail merchandise. It focuses on efforts to combat this scarcity, highlighting what's worked and drawing lessons from what hasn't.

By exploring the connections between free culture and other anti-scarcity movements, we find new approaches, new allies, and new opportunities to stand up for the public commons.


8 years, 3 months ago

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LibrePlanet 2016 video · LibrePlanet 2016 · LibrePlanet · lp2016 · video

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Artificial scarcity: beyond the digital (libreplanet) · LibrePlanet 2016 Videos (libreplanet)


CC BY-SA 4.0


This talk was presented at LibrePlanet.


LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference. The FSF campaigns for free/libre software, meaning it respects users' freedom and community. We believe that users are entitled to this; all software should be free.


We do not advocate "open source".

That term was coined to reject our views. It refers to similar practices, but usually presented solely as advantageous, without talking of right and wrong.


Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 by announcing development of the free operating system, GNU. By 1992, GNU was nearly operational; one major essential component was lacking, the kernel.


In 1992, Torvalds freed the kernel Linux, which filled the last gap in GNU. Since then, the combined GNU/Linux system has run in millions of computers. Nowadays you can buy a new computer with a totally free GNU/Linux system preinstalled.


The views of the speaker may not represent the Free Software Foundation. The Foundation supports the free software cause and freedom to share, and basic freedoms in the digital domain, but has no position on other political issues.