[cc-community] NC/ND

Mike Linksvayer ml at creativecommons.org
Tue Dec 13 18:25:36 EST 2011

On Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM,  <cc at phizz.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> On 13/12/2011 11:39, Joe Corneli wrote:
>> It's all fine and good that institutions like MIT use CC-NC-SA -- I
>> mean, it's there prerogative, right, if they want to "share" things
>> that other people can't actually "use" (apparently without a second
>> thought) -- but can't Creative Commons do something to discourage
>> other organizations and individuals from using these licenses in the
>> future?
> Why so?

This deserves a longer response, but in brief:

(1) Allowing commercial use unlocks a lot more social benefit
(2) Lots of publicly funded and otherwise intended for public benefit
projects use NC
(3) Lots of not particularly publicly interested projects use NC, but
don't actually have any copyright-based revenue stream to protect
(4) Beyond the over-use of NC (and under-use of fully open licenses)
implied by 1-3, NC further restricts the overall value of the commons
because it is fundamentally not compatible with fully open licenses,
meaning the commons is more fractured, smaller, and less impactful
than it could be

[Note one could probably substitute ND for NC above and make an even
stronger case.]

There are a bunch of different options for "discouraging" use of NC
(and ND) -- I'd prefer to think of it as encouraging fully open
licenses, but to a large extent those are flipsides. Given 1-4 above,
some or all ought increase CC's social benefit. Options include very
soft things, like recommendations to specific groups that most people
never see, or light touches on the license buttons and chooser to
further differentiate between semi- and fully open, to stronger
measures like calling licenses with NC or ND in them something other
than "CC" licenses, to measures that might both increase
differentiation and make at least NC licenses more attractive to
entities that don't really want to share more than a tiny bit
(tightening the definition of NC in the licenses).

Which are optimal for 4.0 (and for the next decade or so ... 4.0 ought
have a very, very long lifespan), there's the question.

> Many people use the NC license and are more willing to supply
> image to initiatives like the Encyclopedia of Life than to wikispecies
> for example.

EoL is pretty interesting as a site/organization that (1) accepts NC
works (but not ND; I'm guessing they need to be able to crop, excerpt,
etc for their context), (2) AFAICT their uses look unambiguously
"noncommercial", triggering none of the usual edge cases (eg they're
nonprofit, no ads, not selling anything), (3) actually relies on the
CC licenses offered by third parties, not requesting permissions that
uploaders don't have to give, nor relying on nobody to care or other
exceptions and arrangements. See

I can't think of many significant sites that fit in all 3 of those
buckets. Has anyone analyzed the works and terms thereof for works
used by EoL, and re-use elsewhere of those works? That'd be
interesting, perhaps even relevant.

Comparison to Wikispecies and other Wikimedia projects could be
interesting too. Neither Wikispecies nor Wikipedia(s) are
apples-to-apples comparisons for EoL (when I want to look up info
about a species, I go to Wikipedia; neither Wikispecies nor EoL even
crosses my mind, but maybe they will now), but still could be curious.

> If your ideology is assaulted by NC works there is no compulsion on you
> to use them.

I didn't see any ideologically-charged language in Joe's post. He was
describing consequences. Let's try to keep it that way in both


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