Clément Renaud

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Cost of Freedom

2016 - Pourrières, France

Cost of Freedom is a collection of original writings about Free Culture born during a Book Sprint in an attempt to free Syrian open-source developer Bassel Khartabil.

Cost of Freedom

The book was was written during a Book Sprint from November 2nd to 6th 2015 as part of the #FREEBASSEL campaign. It was released on Monday, November 9 2015 under a CC0 license on

Cost of Freedom is born in an attempt to free Bassel Khartabil Sadafi, loved and celebrated Internet volunteer detained in Syria since March 15, 2012. His name has been deleted from the Adra Prison’s register where he was detained, on October 3, 2015. We have not received any information about his current status or whereabouts since. The introductory part of this book called Collective Memories gives voice to his friends and family that have been urging for his release and want him back to his normal life and freedom, immediately.

44 contributors, including 12 on-site book sprinters, wrote, compiled, and edited more than 50 original contributions, including paintings, poems, personal reflections, critical observations, polemical pieces, theoretical treatises and calls for action about moving within and living with free culture and all its complexities, as well as personal texts about Bassel Khartabil.

It was launched at Re:Publica 17 - read the article on Global Voices and the report on Book Sprints website.

Excerpt from The Uncommon Creativity of Bassel Khartabil by Barry Threw, executive director of #NEWPALMYRA :

In October 2010, I sat at a checkpoint on the Lebanon-Syria border, waiting for Bassel. It was late, and I’d been sitting in a nearby café, smelling of bleach but otherwise unremarkable, for nearly 12 hours. I was waiting with one of my traveling companions, Christopher Adams, who had been denied entry as a result of visa issues (“everything fine, stamps just changed yesterday”). We were part of a group of Creative Commons advocates traveling to Damascus as the last stop on a tour around the Arab world, doing workshops on free culture and open source software, along with such community stalwarts as Joi Ito, Lawrence Lessig, Mitchell Baker, Jon Phillips, and Bassel himself. It was a group from the near-future, time traveling at a second-per-second to the oldest still-inhabited city in existence, a place outside of time.


Christopher Adams is 35 years old. He is a photographer, and published FREESOULS by JOI ITO. Christopher is a member of Fabricatorz and helps run the #FREEBASSEL campaign. He lives in Taipei.

By The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth & Clémence de Montgolfier) is an art and research collaborative dedicated to conversations of all shapes, sizes, and (file) formats.

Tim Boykett is involved in researches in the field of nearrings, relations between theoretical computer science and abstract algebra.

Lorna Campbell work for the University of Edinburgh. She is specialized in open education technology, policy, and practice.

Giorgos Cheliotis lives and works in Athens. He is a close observer of networks, internet cultures, sociotechnical and policy issues in new media.

Tyng-Ruey Chuang led Creative Commons Taiwan. His research areas include functional programming, programming languages and systems, XML and Web technologies, and social implications of information technologies.

ginger coons is a digital researcher, a f-loss design advocate, and editor of @libgraphicsmag.

Ben Dablo is a 31 year old citizen wanderer living in Portland, Oregon.

Georges Dahdouh is a 37 years old Syrian designer and 3D artist. He is located in Dubai.

Patrick W. Deegan is a researcher, focus on new media art practice, sociology, and ethics. He is also a freelance curator and developer at Fabricatorz.

Dr. Martin Paul Eve is a senior lecturer in literature, technology and publishing. He lives in London.

Pauline Gadea is 30 years old. She lives in Toulouse. After years in the media, Pauline now works in local food craft products.

Lucas Gonze is a product innovator, hacker, creative technologist.

Richard Goodman is the E-Learning Systems Team Manager in IT Services at Loughborough University.

Shauna Gordon-McKeon is a U.S. writer, independent researcher and developer. She focuses on open technologies and communities.

Christian Grothoff is maintainer of GNU Taler.

A global nomad, hellekin is a free software activist, member of the Foundation, and GNU consensus maintainer.

Adam Hyde is the founder of BookSprints.

Pete Ippel’s art is conceptual in nature and spans a variety of media from the traditional to the cutting edge. Pete’s personal account is @hypermodern.

Jaromil is a member of the Foundation and the D-CENT project.

Muid Latif is a Malaysian-based web designer, graphic designer and digital artist.

Lawrence Lessig is an American academic, and political activist. He is the founder of Creative Commons and Rootstrikers.

Yu Li is 31 years old. She lives and works between Geneva and Shenzhen. Yu is a researcher, interaction and speculative designer.

Mike Linksvayer is a dilettante of various free knowledge movements and a sub-dilettante critic of the same.

Geert Lovink is a Dutch-Australian media theorist and critic. He is the founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam.

Sulaïman Majali is an artist based in Glasgow, Scotland. His works question the relationships between the sculptural object and the photographic image in the mythologies of our imagined communities.

Jean Noël Montagné, founder of a hackerspace in Nice, France, called Nicelab, “Open Laboratory of Nice”.

Jon Phillips is the co-founder of design and technology company Fabricatorz. He lives in Hong Kong. Jon founded the #FREEBASSEL campaign in 2012. Transcript by Ekta Saran.

Théophile Pillault is 33 years old. He lives in Marseille. Théophile is a freelance journalist, working for Vice, Les Inrockuptibles or Trax Magazine.

radium is a member of the Foundation and the D-CENT project.

Donatella Della Ratta has been managing the Creative Commons Arab world community for five years. She maintains a blog on Arab media at and tweets avidly @donatelladr.

Clément Renaud is a 32-years old researcher, developer, creative coder, and journalist based in Lyon.

Faraj Rifait is Bassel’s uncle.

Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay is a researcher at french institution CNRS Institute for Communication Sciences where she is in charge of the Information and Commons Governance research group.

Natacha Roussel is a f-loss artist. She is the co-founder of the F-lat collective. Natacha is based in Brussels.

Noura Ghazi Safadi is a Syrian writer. She’s married to Bassel.

Anasuya Sengupta is an advocate, strategist, and storyteller, currently on the Board of Directors of the Nonprofit Quarterly, an online and print publication that promotes an active and engaged democracy. She previously headed the Grantmaking department at the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Asia Pacific portfolio at the Global Fund for Women.

Designer, technologist, and apparently author, Barry Threw (@barrythrew) is the Director of Software at Obscura Digital, curator with Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, and the Interim Director of the #NEWPALMYRA project. He lives in San Francisco, CA.

Stéphanie Vidal is 30 years old. She is a cultural journalist specialised in new media and digital strategist. Stéphanie lives in Paris.

Marc Weidenbaum publishes a webzine, Disquiet, about electronic ambient music and has contributed to the scientific journal Nature upon this subject. He was editor-in-chief for two of Viz Media’s magazines. He lives in San Francisco.

John Wilbanks is the Chief Commons Officer at Sage Bionetworks and a Senior Fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and at FasterCures. He ran the Science Commons project at Creative Commons.

Maarten Zeinstra is an advisor copyright law and technology in the cultural sector for Nederlands agency Kennisland. He lives in Amsterdam.

Mushon Zer-Aviv is a designer, an educator and a media activist. He is based in Tel Aviv.

Ethan Zuckerman, Director, Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab, where Bassel was offered a researcher position on October 22, 2015.

Press Release

San Francisco — Sunday, 22 May 2016 — Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry is a book demanding freedom for Bassel Khartabil and introspect the costs of participation in free knowledge movements. The book was written in Pourrières, France from November 2nd to 6th, 2015, with contributions from 45 free knowledge activists around the world, including Creative Commons founder and former U.S. presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig and Khartabil’s spouse, Noura Ghazi Safadi, and uncle, Faraj Rifait.

Today the book is available in electronic and print formats for reading, downloading, sharing, and purchase at The entire book is dedicated to the public domain with the “CC Zero” license (CC0-1.0).

Bassel Khartabil is a free knowledge and human rights activist who has been detained in Syria since 15 March 2012, and missing since 3 October 2015. A global #FREEBASSEL movement ranging from Amnesty International to the Wikimedia Foundation has steadfastly called for Khartabil’s release.

Cost of Freedom builds its case for the cost and value of free and open knowledge through essays on the pains and relevance of free culture in the real world and personal reflections on the life, contributions, and costs paid by Khartabil.

#NEWPALMYRA Director Barry Threw said, “Bassel has dedicated his life toward advancing freedom for the people of Syria and the world. This book contains vital perspectives from thought leaders and activists on the price we pay to secure freedom for all. “

Other info

Book Publishing: Clément Renaud

Cover Painting: Omar Ibrahim, artist born in the south of Syria 1978, living and working in Paris.

Book Production and Cover Design: Julien Taquet

Book Sprint Facilitation: Barbara Rühling

Text Clean-Up: Raewyn Whyte

MISSINGBASSEL Illustration: Neil Stuber

This book is dedicated to the public domain and licensed under the terms of the CC0 license.