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This page presented an issue for consideration in the CC license suite 4.0 versioning process. The discussions have now concluded with the publication of the 4.0 licenses, and the information on this page is now kept as an archive of previous discussions. The primary forum for issues relating to the 4.0 versioning process was the CC license discuss email list. You may subscribe to contribute to any continuing post-launch discussions, such as those surrounding compatibility and license translation. The wiki has been populated with links to relevant email threads from the mailing list where applicable, and other topics for discussion were raised in the 4.0/Sandbox. See the 4.0 page for more about the process.

The NonCommmercial (NC) term has for CC's entire history been more popular than ShareAlike and NoDerivatives, the other two optional terms in the CC license suite, though its popularity has slowly but steadily declined.[1] The term as it has appeared in all generic/international versions thus far (1.0,[2] 2.0,[3] 2.5,[4] 3.0[5]):

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. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in connection with the exchange of copyrighted works.'

This is reflected on NC license deeds as:[6]

Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

Also in the CC license chooser, with the following question:[7]

Allow commercial uses of your work? ( ) Yes ( ) No

In addition to much use, the NC term has attracted much discussion and criticism (see section below), on two grounds:

  1. uncertainty as to whether particular uses fall in the scope of the term
  2. works licensed using the term are not fully free/open and the attractiveness of the term, or of CC itself, could lead to under-use of fully open terms (i.e., CC0, CC BY, and CC BY-SA)

Several legal cases have involved works under CC licenses containing the NC term.

The popularity of the NC term, and debate around it, indicate that it is an important issue to examine rigorously, and get right (see the main 4.0 page for context of overall goals) -- which could mean changes in the 4.0 suite, changes outside the licenses themselves, or retaining the exact language used thus far.

Proposals for addressing in 4.0

  • Clarify the definition of NonCommercial in the licenses to match wishes of most conservative NC licensors.
    • Pros:
    • Cons
  • Narrow the definition of NonCommercial in the licenses to match wishes of most permissive NC licensors. (e.g., making it clear that use of a licensed work on an ad-supported website is non-commercial)
    • Pros:
    • Cons
  • Drop all NC licenses from the 4.0 license suite.
    • Pros:
    • Cons
  • Drop the BY-NC-SA and BY-NC-ND licenses from the 4.0 license suite.
    • Pros:
    • Cons
  • Rebrand the NC licenses in 4.0 so they do not use the Creative Commons name.
    • Pros:
    • Cons

[Please add other proposals here]

Related debate

We encourage you to sign up for the license discussion mailing list, where we will be debating this and other 4.0 proposals. HQ will provide links to related email threads from the license discussion mailing list here.

Relevant references

Please add citations that ought inform this 4.0 issue below.