In the last few months there has been quite a bit of discussion about what CC should do with the non-free licenses. Some have called for Creative Commons to retire or otherwise change the way we offer licenses containing the NonCommercial and NoDerivatives conditions because those licenses do not create a true commons of open content that everyone is free to use, redistribute, remix, and repurpose. These suggestions have been made by the Students for Free Culture, QuestionCopyright.org, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and others.
- the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
- the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
- the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
- the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works
There are four CC licenses that are considered “non-free” because they do not provide for all of the freedoms listed above. The CC licenses that contain the NonCommercial and/or NoDerivatives terms are considered non-free. These licenses are BY-NC, BY-ND, BY-NC-SA, BY-NC-ND.
Back in August we wrote a blog post about the ongoing discussion around NonCommercial and NoDerivatives and promised to keep the conversation going. We noted that these issues have surfaced frequently over the years, and we reminded readers that CC studied the NonCommercial issue and has worked to try to clearly mark and otherwise communicate the differences between the Free and non-free licenses. For example, CC has placed a “Definition of Free Cultural Works” seal on the BY and BY-SA license deeds. We also included it in the most recent upgrade of our license chooser.
We’re taking a close look at the arguments and recommendations from the various individuals and groups and have generated a few TO-DO items to attempt to address the issues raised. We have aggregated these proposed actions on the CC wiki. We’d appreciate any feedback you have–you can do this over at the CC-Community email list or the wiki Talk page.
Some of the draft actions include the following (you can read more about them on the wiki page):
- Improve information about which CC licenses align with definitions of “Free licenses”
- Revive the color-coded “license spectrum” graphic
- Provide descriptive examples of adoptions of Free and non-free licenses
- Gather feedback about changing the name of “NonCommercial” to “Commercial Rights Reserved”
This last point warrants a specific mention here, as it would be a big (and potentially sensitive) change to the branding of the Creative Commons NonCommercial licenses. This proposal is for a simple renaming of the “NonCommercial” license element to “Commercial Rights Reserved,” without any change in the definition of what it covers. Renaming it to something that more accurately reflects the operation of the license may ensure that it is not unintentionally used by licensors who intend something different. For more information about the idea and rationale behind this proposal, please see the CC wiki page on the topic.
Again, if you have feedback on the proposed actions or other ideas that haven’t been captured here, please contribute to the CC-community list, the wiki Talk page, or in the comments below. We appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.18 Comments »
A few days ago the Students for Free Culture (SFC) published a provocative blog post called “Stop the inclusion of proprietary licenses in Creative Commons 4.0.” The article urged Creative Commons to deprecate (meaning “retire” or similar), or otherwise change the way Creative Commons offers licenses containing the NonCommercial and NoDerivatives terms, because they “do not actually contribute to a shared commons.”
The SFC blog post raises important questions about the opportunities and challenges presented by the NC and ND licenses. The NC and ND licenses currently make up four of the six licenses in the CC license suite:
These issues have surfaced frequently over the years, in varied forums and by a variety of stakeholders. CC studied the NC issue from 2008 to 2009, investigating how online populations understand noncommercial use in the context of the NC licenses. The previous year, CC acknowledged the differences between the NC and ND licenses on the one hand, and BY and BY-SA on the other, by announcing placement of the free cultural works seal on the BY and BY-SA deeds as part of an “effort to distinguish among the range of Creative Commons licenses”.
At the same time, CC celebrates successful adoption of the NC and ND licenses, in part because those licenses signal a desire to be more open than the alternative of “all rights reserved.” Moreover, those adopters may eventually migrate to more open licenses once exposed to the benefits that accompany sharing. But this duality opens CC to criticism (if not also confusion) about our identity and mission.
CC committed to addressing this issue most recently with the launch of the 4.0 license process following consultation with the CC affiliates at the 2011 Global Summit in Warsaw. We fully intend to engage in a manner that is inclusive of a wide range of voices and interests. In this way, CC will be best positioned to make informed, thoughtful decisions with the input of our community (defined in the broadest sense), our affiliates, and our adopters (both would-be and existing).
While the specific challenges to NC and ND are not tied to the 4.0 versioning process per se, they’ve been raised in the context of the 4.0 NonCommercial dialogue. The decision not to change the definition of NonCommercial itself in 4.0 now gives way to the broader policy discussion of the role that the NC (and ND) licenses serve, and CC’s stewardship of and communications around those licenses.
As license steward, we are accountable to our stakeholders and global community, and must be transparent about decisions and how we act (or not) on the proposals that have been put on the table. These proposals span a wide range and include more clearly differentiating the licenses aligned with the Definition of Free Cultural Works from those that are not, to providing more education to licensors about the consequences of license choice, to disassociating Creative Commons from the NC and ND licenses altogether, among others.
Here’s what you can expect from CC:
- Please continue to use the CC-Community list (as opposed to the CC license development list) as the venue for discussions about the various options, proposals, and considerations for NC and ND.
- CC will collect, analyze and synthesize ideas and proposals, identify possible policy changes, and communicate potential implications of each. CC will look to these various proposals with the recognition that any policy change cuts across the entire community and organization, including education, data and science, legal, technical, etc. CC will share this information publicly in an easy to understand fashion that includes the relevant historical and contextual framing.
- CC will hold stakeholder consultations that include adopters, CC affiliates, funders, and the broader community. These might take the form of email discussions, community phone calls or IRC chats, etc.
Other suggestions for actions are most welcome.22 Comments »
Recently we launched the second round of a questionnaire on noncommercial use, this one focusing on users. Read that post for details, or hop directly to the questionnaire, which takes 15-25 minutes to complete. The questionnaire will be open through May 5.
We’ll be publishing preliminary data (note: free text answers will be removed for privacy) and reports from the first round after this second questionnaire is closed — as well as some thoughts from CC on noncommercial licensing that won’t be any news to anyone who has followed really closely this blog, the initiatives of our science and education programs, and our CEO Joi Ito’s speeches. Many thanks to everyone who has asked about study results so far. We’re getting information out as quickly as possible, given how busy we are, and not wanting to interfere with this round of data collection. Of course as mentioned previously a full report on the entire study will be available in July.
To whet your appetite (and hopefully encourage your participation in the current questionnaire), we’re releasing preliminary slides (.pdf) reporting on interesting data gathered in the first round that won’t influence the current round — on the profiles and activities of a random panel of U.S. content creators and those of “CC Friends & Familiy”, i.e., people who took the first questionnaire as publicized from the CC website — a self-explanatory slide from that set is to the right, as well as a list of questions asked in the first round (.ods), as some of you have requested.
Please contribute to this research — take the questionnaire on noncommercial use for users — and spread the word. You have through May 5!
Update: The questionnaire closes 6PM Pacific on May 5. That’s 01:00 GMT on May 6.14 Comments »
As previously announced, Creative Commons is researching “noncommercial use”. Last year we conducted a number of focus groups and fielded a survey (thank you everyone who responded!) designed to collect information about how creators understand the distinction between commercial and noncommercial uses of their content. Now we want to talk to people about their experience as users of content they find online, regardless of whether the content is licensed under a CC license, with or without the NC term, or even licensed at all.
We hope to connect with individuals and organizations from a variety of communities and industries, using a variety of content, in many different media. We seek insight and experience, not any endorsement of Creative Commons, its licenses, or any particular perspective.
We are currently scheduling a limited number of in-person focus groups, to be held in New York City, on Thursday, February 12, and San Francisco, on Tuesday, February 17. In order to get input from persons who live outside these regions, we are also conducting a limited number of online bulletin board type focus groups, which will take place over the course of three days, from Wednesday, February 18 through Friday, February 20. The time commitment for both the in-person and online focus groups is approximately two hours. Please note and understand that all groups, including the online focus groups, will be conducted in English. Unfortunately, we are not able to cover any travel or other expenses you may have in connection with participating.
If you are interested in participating in one of these focus groups, please fill out a questionnaire, which will explain what we plan to do with the data we collect, and will also ask you for some basic background information.
There are a limited number of spaces in each focus group. Please understand that we may not be able to respond individually to everyone who fills out the questionnaire, but if you are selected to participate, we will contact you as soon as possible to confirm your participation.
Thank you for your interest and help with this study.3 Comments »
Your input is greatly appreciated. CC CEO Joi Ito explains:
“The study has direct relevance to Creative Commons’ mission of providing free, flexible copyright licenses that are easy to understand and simple to use,” said Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito. “The NC term is a popular option for creators choosing a Creative Commons license, and that tells us the term meets a need. However, as exponentially increasing numbers of works are made available under CC licenses, we want to provide additional information for creators about the contexts in which the NC term may further or impede their intentions with respect to the works they choose to share, and we want to make sure that users clearly understand those intentions. We expect the study findings will help us do a better job of explaining the licenses and to improve them, where possible. We also hope the findings, which will be made publicly available, will contribute to better understanding of some of the complexities of digital distribution of content.”
You can also help by sending your friends and colleagues to the questionnaire.
If you don’t have time to help CC in this way, remember that we’re in the midst of our annual fundraising campaign.
Contributing in both ways would be ideal. :-)
CC licenses are an important* part of the digital infrastructure and debate. Your financial contributions and your feedback are both crucial to the ongoing development of this infrastructure.
* The ‘important’ link above points out a recent extraordinarily important and visible use of the CC BY license, which does not include the NC term. As Joi points out in the quote above, we also want to provide information about contexts in which NC is not appropriate. So please take the questionnaire if you care about public copyright licenses, even if you don’t like or don’t use ones with the NonCommercial term. Thanks!14 Comments »
As previously announced, Creative Commons is studying how people understand the term “noncommercial use”. At this stage of research, we are reaching out to the Creative Commons community and to anyone else interested in public copyright licenses – would you please take a few minutes to participate in our study by responding to this questionnaire? Your response will be anonymous – we won’t collect any personal information that could reveal your identity.
Because we want to reach as many people as possible, this is an open access poll, meaning the survey is open to anyone who chooses to respond. We hope you will help us publicize the poll by reposting this announcement and forwarding this link to others you think might be interested. The questionnaire will remain online through December
714 or until we are overwhelmed with responses — so please let us hear from you soon!
Questions about the study or this poll may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Comments »