Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship ($50k, application due March 24)


Long intended to post here about possible indicator of strength (or weakness) of commons-based production entities and movements: how they stand up for constituents in distress, and whether they are successful in obtaining relief.

One obvious example is Wikimedia helping defend its contributors for their contributions, e.g., in a defamation case.

More broadly though, what about commons activists who are targeted by oppressive governments (nearly all, in some respect), possibly in relation to their participation in commons-based production? Aaron Swartz was probably the most famous example (one might think of what he was persecuted for as “beating of the bounds”).

Another case that I followed a bit more closely is that of Bassel Khartabil, who was imprisoned and killed by the Syrian government.

I haven’t gotten around to any kind of analysis of all this, but one outcome in the case of Khartabil is a fellowship in his honor that I hope will interest some people reading this, or people within a few hops who might use the fellowship to do something extremely interesting and pro-commons. has all the info, and note application is as easy as sending an email:

The Fellowship is open to individuals and small teams worldwide, who:

  • Propose a viable new initiative to advance free culture values,
  • Demonstrate a history of activism in the Open Source, Open Access, Free Culture or Sharing communities, and
  • Are prepared to focus on the fellowship as their primary work.

Successful projects will aim to:

  • Meaningfully increase free public access to human knowledge, art, or culture,
  • Further the cause of social justice/social change, and
  • Develop both a local and global community to support its cause.

We welcome applicants from a wide range of disciplines and practices: If you’re unsure if you fit, please apply! Applications from the Levant and wider MENA region are greatly encouraged.