[cc-licenses] Need clarification: What is "commercial"?

James Grimmelmann james at grimmelmann.net
Wed May 2 16:44:03 EDT 2007

Jake McKee wrote:
> I'm trying to better understand the noncommercial attribution - namely, 
> what is "commercial" usage?
> Clearly reselling someone's work is "commercial", no questions there. 
> But what about usage in commercial activity that isn't commerce? For 
> instance:
> - Using an image in a powerpoint slide for your business venture (or 
> heck, even a non-profit)
> - Using an image on a web site for your business or organization
> Maybe I'm just not well versed enough in the legalities, but to me, 
> that's a big huge part of the point of CC - making it easy enough that I 
> don't have to be a lawyer to understand. :)

The definition of "commercial" is not definitively stated anywhere, but
CC has produced a set of guidelines that may be helpful:


The CC wiki has s few more links related to the guidelines:


including particularly a flowchart:


The answer to your questions, according to the guidelines, are that a
business can never make a noncommercial use (unless it's merely helping
a nonprofit or a person to make a noncommercial use).  The slide for the
nonprofit and the web site for a nonprofit are probably not commercial uses.


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