NonCommercial split into NonProfit and NoCompensation
email at greglondon.com
Mon Apr 25 09:00:27 EDT 2005
Greg London said:
> So, I'm left with did CC know we were misreading
> it all this time and said nothing?
> Or was CC inline with what we were saying
> but now they've decided to change what it means?
This announcement that "NonCommercial" allows
money to exchange hands as long as the
recipient is not for profit happened to come out
the same time that the education list started up again.
Someone suggested rebranding CC-NC-SA as the
Based on the idea that NonCommercial meant money
cannot exchange hands, I pointed out that this
"education" license would not allow a professor
to charge tuition if he's using such a work
and that a University press would not be able
to print the books and sell them, even "at cost".
The people on the edu list seemed intent on preventing
the University of Phoenix (a mail order diploma school
apparently) from using their works while allowing
"good" Universities to use the work freely.
I attempted to explain how software licenses went
through the "non commercial" and "educational only"
phase, but that they were dropped because it isn't
money or education that causes problems with the
work. The problem is when the work can have a
proprietary fork. I pointed out how RedHat has
helped linux and even contributed code to the project.
But the edu people seemed unmoved. The next suggestion
was for a license that was literally Education only,
rather than a simple rebranding of CC-NC-SA.
I then pointed out that CC-EDU would be incompatible with
any existing CC-NC-SA works, because SA does not allow
downstream authors from adding new restrictions like
"educational use only". The existing base of works
that were CC-NC-SA could never be mixed in with cc-edu.
At this point, the edu list was at an impasse.
A number of professors viewed commercial use
as "spoiling" the "purity" of their works,
and were unwilling to allow UofP to use their
works no matter what. And creating a new
"education only" license would mean none of the
existing CC-NC-SA works would be able to enter
this CC-EDU license without consent from all the
It was at this point in time that CC's legal counsel
came in and made the announcement that "NonCommercial"
really meant "NonProfit", which completely solved the
professor's problem. It would allow them to license
their stuff CC-NC-SA, so no compatibility problems
would occur, and it prevented the evil mail order
diploma schools from using their works because they
would be commercial schools.
Suddenly CreativeCommons got a whole new audience
of authors to embrace their licensing scheme.
Except that it completely redefined who the existing
authors had thought NonCommercial worked.
This is very good for CC, and very bad for us.
And I can't help but wonder if CC changed the
interpretation of the license specifically to
satisfy some professors who are basically stuck
back in the 80's with their "shareware" licenses.
If CC really wants to stick by this new interpretation
of how NonCommercial works, then I recommend that the
name of the license be changed to "NonProfit" and that
the current license remove the text
"private monetary compensation" and
"no payment of any monetary compensation"
and replace those phrases with
"monetary compensation for a profit"
The license text should also be modified to point out
that NonProfit transactions are allowed, and define
whether that means an individual can charge money
for "labor and parts" or whether it is limited to
legally declared non-profit organizations.
If people on this list have been misinterpreting the
license for a year or two, then that means the text
is seriously unclear as to its intent. And we've
actually spent a bit of time studying it.
I can only imagine that there are a number of authors
who used this NC license without much of any understanding
of the legal aspect and simply took it to mean
"no money changes hands".
If CC is going to redefine this license to allow
NonProfit money transactions, then the license ought
to be renamed that.
I would also like to suggest that a "NoCompensation"
license be created for authors who do not want to
allow NonProfit use of their work. I especially do
not like how this NonProfit interpretation is going
because it is so ill defined that no one knows what
exactly it means and CC is unwilling to come out and
say what they mean by their own damn license.
I would rather use "NoCompensation" because its a
whole lot simpler and a whole lot less likely to
be subject to some out of the blue interpretation
that I did not expect. No money can change hands ever.
Nice and simple. Straight forward. No surprises.
Bounty Hunters: Metaphors for Fair IP Law.
More information about the cc-licenses