[cc-community] Copyright enforcement and CC BY-NC licenses

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Tue Aug 5 16:14:57 EDT 2008

Kevin Phillips (home) wrote:
> No, I don't object to it.  We were talking about irony, and the irony of the 
> NC license being setup to support a very commercial set of procedures and 
> organisations. None of the other licenses (including arguably the most 
> "commercial" BY) have been made "compatible with collecting societies", only 
> NC.

The real problem is that "non-commercial" depends on who you mean.

As used, it means that the recipient of the work can use it only for
"non-commercial" uses.

But the principle reason for having such a limitation is that the work
itself IS "commercial" and that the author of the work wants to "retain
commercial rights" in the work.

IOW, the name of the license is user-rights centric, but the choice of
license is author-rights centric. Thus, from the author's PoV, the name
creates confusion, and that probably means that errors are made in
selecting a license.

Since the "non-commercial license" is really the "license of choice for
commercial authors", this is indeed ironic.

One solution might be to rename the license -- it could be called
"commercial-rights-reserved" (CR), for example.

One thing that certainly ought to be done is to have the license
selection wizard ask its questions differently.

Right now, it asks the author a user-centric question:

"Allow commercial uses of your work?"

This is okay at telling you what the licenses do for the user, but it
doesn't tell you what the effect of the choice is on the *author* (the
one who's reading and answering these questions). In fact, I've answered
questions from some authors who get so confused they think THEY can't
use the work commercially if they choose an NC license.

A better -- more author-centric -- question would be:

"Do you want to retain a monopoly on commercial exploitation of your
work (for example, so that you alone can sell the work or collect fees
from collecting societies on the work)?"

I think that would make the true use-cases for NC (and ND) much more clear.

>> I'm not understanding your objection here.
> Clarity is the grounds of my objection.  I'm not against commercial artists 
> releasing works into CC, I think it should happen more.  I'm not against 
> them being paid for their work via their CS as they've always been.  I just 
> think it's not helpful that the NC licenses has been manipulated aka "made 
> compatible" to their ends, which otherwise would be (and is) very strict 
> about non-commercial uses.

I think the real problem is that NC is *NOT* the right license for
"purely non-commercial uses". If you just want a work to be for
non-commercial use, because you want it to be free and you don't want it
to be "exploited", then you'd be much better off with a By-SA license.

> Meantime an amateur musicians could chose BY-NC with the waiver intact, 
> because she's not signed up to a CS and she doesn't want commercial uses.

Unless by "amateur" you really mean "semi-pro", I don't see why they'd
want to use By-NC in the first place. Bottom line: unless you're trying
to get revenue from selling the work, By-SA is a better option for
keeping the work "free".

> Bingo.  I'd love to use SA all the time, but some web sites don't support it 
> so I take what's offered.  A lot of musicians don't get the concept of SA, 
> so they choose NC thinking it will stop corporates nicking their music. If I 
> want to remix music the majority of stuff is NC.

Both of those are severe social ills, and should (IMHO) be fought.

Boycott those NC-only sites. Use the ones which permit free licensing
instead. We need to support the people who support us.

As for musicians not understanding the licenses they pick for their own
works, shame on them! Get educated.


Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com

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