license

Commercial Rights Reserved proposal outcome: no change

Kat Walsh, February 14th, 2013

CC recently considered a proposal to rename the NonCommercial license to “Commercial Rights Reserved”, as raised on this list back in December.

We have decided not to pursue that proposal, and to leave the name of the license the same. However, there is a possibility of using the “Commercial Rights Reserved” language in messaging and other informational materials about the license to make the function of the license clearer.

We are continuing to work on the other action items to improve understanding around the NC and ND licenses.

We received a lot of valuable feedback on the Commercial Rights Reserved proposal, and ultimately, there were many strong arguments both for and against it. One point that was broadly recognized, however, was that a change of the license name would be difficult to communicate and require a fair amount of time, effort, and in some cases expense, and a change would have to justify this cost. After evaluating the feedback, we believe that the case for changing the name was not strong enough for this.

Some common arguments in favor:

  • It avoids the problem of licensors selecting an NC license due to misunderstanding based on the name.

Some of the use of NonCommercial comes from licensors who choose to use it based on the name alone. More specifically, some licensors are choosing NC because they intend to use their work only for non-commercial purposes. They may be choosing NC without considering that it also restricts licensees.

  • It is more descriptive of the way the license operates.

Many license users are confused about the actual operation of the NonCommercial license. Some believe, for example, that it is to be placed on works that are not meant to be commercialized at all, including by the licensors themselves. CRR describes what it does, not what it doesn’t.

  • The proposed name would help make some CC business models clear.

Many potential licensors are not aware that you can use CC licenses as part of a business model that includes reserving rights for paid use. A license with a name that is more explicit about commercial rights could make it more immediately apparent that this possibility exists.

And against:

  • There is difficulty involved in any name change that potentially comes at high cost.

The primary argument against a rename is that any switch would potentially create a great deal of confusion among the license-using community, as well as work to rebrand and relocate all of the materials currently referring to NonCommercial.

  • A name change may lead to licensors adopting this license instead of more free licenses.

Changing the name to “Commercial Rights Reserved” may attract some licensors to use it who were not previously thinking about the possibility of leveraging their commercial rights and might otherwise have used a free license.

  • The name would be harder to understand.

“Commercial Rights Reserved” is more “legalese” than “NonCommercial”. Potential licensors who wish to use a no-commercial-use license may not understand that this would meet their needs, leading them to avoid using CC licenses altogether.

  • The change would not satisfy the desires of those critical of NC.

Though it would be intended to address some of the criticisms of NonCommercial license, many would see the rename as too small a change to meaningfully address their concerns.

Many thanks to those of you who offered feedback, both on and off the lists; while we have ultimately decided not to make this change, the comments we received in the consultation process contained a lot of useful insight and information that we’ll take into account when revising and creating new educational materials around the 4.0 licenses.

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