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

Jake McKee jake at countersinkdg.com
Wed May 2 17:42:56 EDT 2007

Thanks for the info, James. After reading through that info we're still 
assuming that "commercial" has been previous defined and agreed on. The 
flowchart, for instance, starts with "Is the user non-commercial".

Ok, so let's take this to a very specific, single question I regularly have:

"Can I use NC licensed images in a powerpoint presentation for work?"

If the answer is a flat no, simply because the usage is applied in a 
commercial setting, that seems like the NC license isn't very effective. 
After all, if you're lumping "commercial presence" together with 
"commerce", then the CC NC isn't doing a very good job of "clarifying 
intent" (which is how I view CC)

I've raised this question in years past and never heard much discussion 
about it. My question is simple: Why not create two NC attributes? One 
that covers any connection with commercial activity (i.e. if the content 
even touches business/commercial activity, it's in violation) and one 
that covers resale specifically.

Personally, for example, I don't care what happens with my photography, 
so long as someone doesn't resell it. To me, having a photo used for a 
personal web site isn't any different than having it used in a 
commercial PPT presentation or internal memo.

So I'm new to this CC discussion (not CC generally, however) - is there 
a better place for me to argue my case?


James Grimmelmann wrote:
> 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:
> http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/5752
> http://wiki.creativecommons.org/DiscussionDraftNonCommercial_Guidelines
> The CC wiki has s few more links related to the guidelines:
> http://wiki.creativecommons.org/NonCommercial_Guidelines
> including particularly a flowchart:
> http://www.adamfields.com/CC-NC-allowed-uses-flowchart.pdf
> 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.
> James

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