[cc-community] Are political uses non-commercial?

Gisle Hannemyr gisle at ifi.uio.no
Thu Jul 2 10:20:20 EDT 2009

On 02.07.2009 07:07, Fear Salesman wrote:
> Hi all,
> I've just released my first single as an indie artist and will be
> releasing an album later this year. I'm having a hard time finding an
> appropriate license, although everything points me toward a CC NC-A
> license. My main reservation is political uses.
> During the most recent US presidential election the McCain/Palin
> campaign used Heart's "Barracuda" after buying a license from ASCAP,
> even though the band objected. Earlier this year Nicolas Sarkozy used a
> MGMT song without permission during his campaign. I'd like to find a
> license that prohibits uses by political campaigns. The CC license does
> not seem to address this explicitly, so I'm wondering if political uses
> are considered commercial?
> Any advice would be appreciated.

CC is running study about non-commercial use that I hope will clarify
this an related issues: http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/9557 ,
but as of today, there is no definite answer to this question.

In the Norway jurisdiction project, we often get this
question.  As a means of answering it, we've developed a guide
that can be used to determine some use cases.  You can find the
guide here:  http://www.creativecommons.no/ncguide/index.html

If you run the guide, you'll find that it relies heavily on the
concept of "an allowable NC-user".  A political campaign does
to fall into any of the categories defined for "an allowable NC-user",
and therefore this will be considered commercial use
(at least according to this guide).

I also think that this follows from common sense.  A political
campaign is really an advertising campaign for some cause or
candidate, and most people consider advertising commercial use.

However, our guide is not legal advice, and its recommendations
may or may not not stand up in court.

I know about no relevant case law around the concept of
"commercial use", and no authorative  legal defintion that
answers the question "What is commercial use?"  There are of
course some clear-cut cases.  Selling someting for money is
commercial use.  Using it for teaching in a non-profit
educational institution is not.  But there is also a huge
grey area, and that is where the example you bring up
- gisle hannemyr [ gisle{at}hannemyr.no - http://folk.uio.no/gisle/ ]
    "Don't follow leaders // Watch the parkin' meters" - Bob Dylan

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