NonCommercial and recovering costs

Sean Redmond sean.redmond at
Tue Jun 22 17:24:33 EDT 2004

James Grimmelmann wrote, On 06/22/2004 03:41 PM:
> At 11:45 AM 6/22/2004, Evan Prodromou wrote:
>> So, I'm wondering about making print-out versions of NonCommercial works
>> for personal use.
> Bottom line: I don't _think_ it's in violation of the license, but this 
> isn't an open-and-shut case like it is for you the reader.
> Now, for my question.  Do folks on this list think it _should_ be a 
> violation of the NonCommercial license for the Internet cafe and the 
> printers to make these copies?

Isn't the cafe or printer just performing a service that is totally 
unrelated to the license? If it were a violation for a internet cafe to 
charge a fee for printing, then even if you were going to print it 
yourself at home, wouldn't it be violation for Hammermill to charge you 
for the printer paper?

> (Related question: how about large numbers of copies?  For example, if a 
> professor were to assign _EST_ to her class, and have Kinko's run off 
> copies for all 150 students.)

I used to work at a Kinko's branch that handled most of the course 
packets for a large University. IIRC, we didn't do a lot of checking but 
  the policy was not to abet violations of fair use (i.e. no copying of 
whole books) and professors had to sign off on the fact that they 
weren't using more than was fair when they placed the order.

> (Second related question: how about editorial discretion?  What if 
> Kinko's was the one who recommended _EST_ to the professor in the first 
> place?  What if the Internet cafe recommends _EST_ to its customers and 
> reminds them that they cant print for 3 cents a page?  If it offers to 
> sell them pre-preinted copies?)

That would depend on the interpretation of "primary" in 4b:

"You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 
above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward 
commercial advantage or private monetary compensation."

If an internet cafe prints out a bunch of copies, they're certainly not 
violating the spirit of the license if the give it away. They're 
probably not violating the license if they sell it at cost -- the GPL 
allows you to recover the costs of distribution (section 1, "You may 
charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy"), so it's 
seems reasonable for CC licenses to allow the same. But if they're 
making a profit and creating a demand that otherwise did not exist (by 
displaying the copies and making money off impulse buyers) then aren't 
they acting as a commercial publisher?

Sean Redmond
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