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Monday, October 3, 2016

Reaching the World Without Leaving the Office

Just two weeks ago a FEE supporter notified me that she had translated Leonard Read’s classic essay I, Pencil and FEE’s new student workshop, Economics in One Day, into Sinhalese.

Not content to stop there, she worked with contacts in Sri Lanka to organize an Economics in One Day workshop for 361 Sri Lankan high schoolers on July 5th, as pictured below.

This is just one example of the remarkable power of a simple concept that FEE has pioneered: making our intellectual products openly available to all, for free. 

To us, this is the ultimate in leveraging our donors’ financial resources: we reach the whole world with fresh ideas on liberty without leaving the office!

In addition, we believe that ideas are much more credible when received from somebody you know, in your native tongue, rather than from a distant institution, in your second language.  

From the time of our founder Leonard Read, FEE’s policy has generally been to grant permission to all who ask to republish our material, on the sole condition that they credit FEE as the source and make note of any changes.

Now, no one even has to ask permission! Since 2014, everything on—including 70 years of archives—is openly licensed to all visitors (except where copyright is reserved by someone else).

Through the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, we allow anyone in the world to translate, email, repost, share, reprint, adapt, or even sell FEE’s materials—all for free.

There are so many translations of FEE material that we have no practical way to keep track of them all.  Through friends around the world, we’re aware of translations in every major language of Europe and Asia.  On any given day, we typically hear of half a dozen repostings from in various languages, and we suspect there are many more. 

By allowing anyone to “steal our stuff,” we’re making it possible for people across the world—like these 361 young Sri Lankan students—to learn about free-market principles, individual freedom, and the ethical principles that underpin both.

I would like to extend a special thank you to the FEE supporter who made this special project a reality, and to all FEE donors who support FEE’s development of seminars, content, books, and coursework that teach the principles of a free society.

  • Wayne Olson is the Chairman of FEE's Board of Trustees and a former executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education.