“What I propose to you is a permanent engagement with those who think they possess what cannot be possessed. Time spent arguing with the faithful is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.” – Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian
While having some email conversations with Falk Feddersen, the man behind the wonderful Open ATM website, it occurred to me that I had never fully explained the meaning of the free feldenkrais movement, what it means to me personally, and to the work in general. Though I have begun giving away some of my work for free: The Feldenkrais Forty, my concept of free has very little to do with money.
What does “Free Feldenkrais” mean?
To modify a phrase from the GNU software movement:
Free Feldenkrais is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”
The freedom where one can move in any direction without hesitation or preparation has its analogue in emotional freedom, intellectual freedom, freedom to express one’s self and ideas and the freedom to get Moshe’s work, and yes – your work – into the hands of anyone who is willing to try it. Free Feldenkrais is about the user not the developer. It is about preserving the rights of the user to have access to the work in any way that he or she thinks will benefit.
Respecting the Rights of the Public
Freedom is about the freedom to use the ideas for any purpose, to study how the ideas or a particular session work (if one chooses). It is the freedom to experiment and to develop. In short it is about using Moshe’s work to engender the organic develomental process of anyone with the curiosity to do so. Just as importantly it is about creating access to the ideas outside of any particular legal, cultural or training ideology.
Access to Source Code
Just as with free and open source software, access to the “source code” is a precondition for these freedoms. This is why I recommend not only distributing audio and video versions of the work, but also transcripts in the form of pdfs, word documents and rich text files (.rtf). Creating multiple versions ensures compatibility and the ability of an end user to modify and re-use.
These freedoms include the right to redistribute copies so that a person can help his or her friends, neighbors or another practitioner and colleague. Also included is the freedom to distribute copies of one’s modified versions to others. And the freedom to repackage and sell any versions – modified or not.
The freedoms above mean that “you don’t need a permission slip.” You do not need to ask the permission of any organization, trainer, developer or legal system. No one has the right to control the dissemination of these ideas. In fact, no one (let’s be honest) really has a clue as to the best way for this work to develop, grown and touch the masses. By giving away as much material as possible, it becomes more likely that someone will be able to do so.
Free Increases Value For Everyone
Feldenkrais ideas become more valuable the more that they are used. The more people know of them, the more they want them. The more they experience them, they more they will want to experience them.
Giving away materials does not degrade your ability to make a living and make a difference. It enhances your ability to do so, and it enhances by multiples. People who download and try free sessions will end up in your classes and on your table. They will end up wanting to know you. They will end up in training programs (for better or worse). There are people who desperately need this work and do not know that they do. There are people who desperately need this work and cannot afford it. Does anyone have the right to limit the choices of those people by locking up Moshe’s work behind copyright, trademark and exclusionary legal protections?
Actually – YES – they do. That’s their choice. But it is not mine. You do have the right to keep your materials or some of your materials under copyright protection. I do sell Feldenkrais mp3′s and other products. They are copyrighted and I have the right to do so. But I also have the right to disseminate ideas in any other way that I choose.
No one owns Feldenkrais
There are those who think they own Moshe Feldenkrais’ work. They are wrong. Ideas can neither be owned nor copyrighted. Moshe’s work is not patented and no guild, association, accreditation board or trainer owns the work of Feldenkrais. Not now – not ever.
Learn More and Get Involved
For more information click any these links: The Feldenkrais Forty (mp3 + transcript). Open-Source Feldenkrais Materials:The First 5 Open Source Feldenkrais (transcripts) Free Feldenkrais-Based Back Pain Relief Workshop (Transcripts)
If you have your own transcripts or mp3 to share, let me know. We can find a way to get them out there. If they are already posted, please put the link in a comment below.