Announcing m108: the next step on freeing the Church
March 9th, 2010
Brief version: Frustrated by restrictive licencing stifling what should be free worship and resources, I am looking for like-minded Christians to discuss a proposal to produce an on-line directory of Christian resources which have freedom built in. See http://m108.crimperman.org for further details and to join the discussion
Okay that’s a bit of a grand title but hopefully it got your attention. As you may know I am a keen advocate of freedom in Christian resources such as music, art and writing. This site is covered by a licence which explicitly permits you to redistribute the material as long as you don’t stop others doing so. I’ve also written about the subject of freedom in the way Christian resources are provided and used in two previous posts.
The latter invoked a bit of discussion, some on here and some with friends offline and I would like to thank all those who have discussed this already for giving me a bit of a kickstart.
Copyright and restrictive licencing of resources is a reasonably hot topic right now and the Church has not escaped. I have noted a shift in support for what is known in some circles and the open content movement. Others have waxed more lyrically than I could on the subject but in generally it involves content creators moving away from draconian imposition and towards freeing up users to use their content including sharing it with others and remixing it. The most popular of these efforts with regard media and arts is the Creative Commons – which is what I use here. In the Church as I have already written it seems frankly daft that those who are using God given gifts to create wonderful ways to give him glory would seriously want to sue a fellow Christian for making an additional photocopy. Churches and church leaders are finding themselves navigating through a minefield of legal requirements which prohibit the free movement and growth of the Church itself.
It seems frankly daft that those who are using God given gifts to create wonderful ways to give him glory would seriously want to sue a fellow Christian for making an additional photocopy
To a certain extent you can’t blame the musicians, writers and artists because they are following the only pattern they see – that of big business. We are in a world where music and words, art and poetry have become “Intellectual Property” (a term which still does not have a proper legal definition in most places). IP is something which we treat as precious, as some kind of golden goose. We dare not let it go in case it never comes back. And yet this does not sit well with the Jesus I know, who turned the tables on those making a profit from worship in the temple, who said “Freely you have received, freely give.” or as the Message puts it …
You have been treated generously, so live generously. Matt 10:8 MSG
The next step
But what if we do let it go? What if we say “copy it just don’t sell it”? I fear that if we continue down this path the Church, even more than greater society, may stifle itself in a fog of restrictions and fear. As Christians we want to do the right thing so I am not advocating we start copying that which we are not permitted to. I am suggesting that rather than break the law we use it. I am suggesting that we, content creators, free the users of the content we have made so they can glorify God with it.
But how do we do that? What form should it take? What about…?
Exactly. before we take the “next step” we need to make sure we know where we are headed. For that purpose I have set up a discussion forum to discuss this proposition. Specifically to discuss a web-based directory of Christian resources with freedom built in. For now I have called this project The m108 project as an homage to Matthew 10:8 but even the name of the project is up for discussion. I have since discovered that m108 is the name given to a galaxy within the constellation of Ursa Major (The great bear). This galaxy (pictured above) is described as having “no noticeably strong center, being a motley collection of features often referred to, in classic understatement, as very dusty”. I like that.
So if you are a user, maker or observer of Christian music, art, literature, liturgy, youth and children’s work, video – pretty much anything which the Church at large could use to glorify God, please hop over to http://m108.crimperman.org . I know this is a cliche but this time your opinion, your view really counts. This project won’t take off or grow unless it represents us, God’s family. Feel free to comment here but if you have a view or question on this matter please consider contributing your comments at the m108 site. Right now we need discussion, no more.
Honestly I have no idea if this is going to work but I feel that we have to at least try. It’s not enough for me to do this alone and while it is small I take comfort from the fact that when Jesus fed thousands from a packed lunch he got his disciples to share it around and he did a great deal with a small amount. Taking part will not tag you as involved, I won’t chase you up to do more later but I would say that in my experience God might. But surely that’s not a bad thing is it?
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