Creative Commons needs help with "non-commercial use"

Creative Commons needs help with "non-commercial use"

Summary: One of the things you learn pretty quickly in the open source community is that "non-commercial use" is not a well-defined term. This is why the Open Source Definition doesn't allow for clauses to restrict commercial use.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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One of the things you learn pretty quickly in the open source community is that "non-commercial use" is not a well-defined term. This is why the Open Source Definition doesn't allow for clauses to restrict commercial use. The same can't be said for Creative Commons, and they're looking for some help in defining the term by December 7th.

Says Joi Ito:

Because we want to reach as many people as possible, this is an open access poll, meaning the survey is open to anyone who chooses to respond. We hope you will help us publicize the poll by reposting this announcement and forwarding this link to others you think might be interested. The questionnaire will remain online through December 7 or until we are overwhelmed with responses -- so please let us hear from you soon!

The Creative Commons licenses allow for creators to choose a license that only allows for "Non-Commercial" use, but it's often foggy when use becomes commercial and when it doesn't. Is it commercial use if you use a CC-licensed work in something being sold? Probably. Is it commercial use if you use a CC-licensed song in a Webcast that has no sponsors, but can be downloaded from a site with Google Ads? What about a link to an Amazon Wishlist? You can come up with dozens of cases where it's not entirely clear if the use of a CC-licensed work constitutes commercial or non-commercial.

Just when does the use of a work cross over from non-commercial to commercial? The first time money changes hands? When you make a profit? Tell me how you think CC should define "non-commercial," or if they should even allow for the exception in the first place. (And take the survey!)

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Topic: Open Source

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2 comments
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  • Commercial Use

    I release all my works under the CC NonCommercial Share-Alike license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/). I've always assumed commercial usage meant the user was personally and financially benefiting from the usage of the works in question. That allows non-profits to still make money because they're not benefiting from its use. Most of my works are originally intended for non-profits and I want any of them to be able to use the works.
    pj_mouse
  • RE: Creative Commons needs help with

    It's long been clear that commercial use helps promote creation and distribution of free content (whether it be software, music, video, pictures). It's commercial to sell a GNU/Linux CD for $5, or to print then sell a copy of Wikipedia, but both those activities help promote access to free content. Furthermore, companies that make money from free content frequently contribute back improvements, as can be seen with Red Hat, Novell, and many more.

    To pj_mouse, commercial does not mean "for-profit". If a non-profit sells something, or uses it in an endeavour that raises revenue, that's commercial.

    Creative Commons made a mistake in ever creating the non-commercial licenses, in my opinion.
    mattflaschen