NC ND discussion

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Proposed action items

Improve information about which CC licenses align with definitions of "Free licenses"

  • Current situation is that we link to from the "Approved for Free Cultural Works" badge. This badge is present on the BY and BY-SA license deeds, as well as the CC0 deed. The web page is not as clear as it could be, and that there are other definitions to which the CC "Free" licenses align, most notably the Open Definition ( We also already mark the deeds and license text page headers in different colors (green for Free licenses, yellow for non-free licenses).
  • Action item: Develop a web page on that describes the definitions to which the Free licenses (CC0, BY, BY-SA licenses) are aligned; this page will be linked from the "Approved for Free Cultural Works" badge on the deeds and license chooser

Revive the “license spectrum” graphic

  • Current situation is that the current CC web assets could do a better job at explaining the licenses along a spectrum of "openness"; we used to have a simple graphic on
  • Action item: Develop a license spectrum graphic for display on the CC site, probably on where the 6 CC licenses and PD tools are placed along a spectrum of “more open” to “less open”; indicate high profile users of each license along the spectrum

Clarify communications across CC website on promotion of Free licenses

  • Current situation is that messaging on the Creative Commons website and communication from CC in general does not signify if/when we promote or suggest the adoption of the Free licenses over the Non-free licenses. However, CC does prefer the more open licenses in many contexts and domains--such as publicly funded scientific research and educational resources.
  • Action item: Develop copy for the CC website so that it is reiterated that CC provides various license choices but for some uses or domains it is recommended best practice to align with the Free licenses. This messaging needs to be communicated in a clear, thoughtful manner, and sensitive to existing adopters of the non-free licenses.

Gather feedback about changing name of "NonCommercial" to “Commercial Rights Reserved”

  • Current situation [kat add short blurb here and/or link to the separate wiki page you will create]

Why not something more radical?

There has been calls from some individuals and organizations that Creative Commons should stop offering non-free licenses altogether. In practical terms this would mean that Creative Commons would not version the NC and ND licenses to 4.0. There are both pros and cons to this option.


  • It would increased interoperability with other pools of content and with other CC-licensed works; essentially, it increases ease of remixing by reducing number of incompatible licenses.
  • It makes the clearest statement in support of a commons aligned with the Definition of Free Cultural Works and the Open Definition
  • It would solve arguments/criticisms about "noncommercial" definition (although would still be there for pre-4.0 versions).
  • works already licensed under NC/ND licenses will still be available under those licenses in pre-4.0 versions; e.g. dropping NC/ND from 4.0 would have no effect on already-shared works


  • It's the most drastic option and may upset communities of NC/ND users or cause potential adopters to reconsider using CC licenses altogether
  • Risks alienating many major CC adopters (like OCW projects) who use NC.
  • creates perception problems, such as that CC is admitting that 4 of its licenses should not be used (after 10 years of support) or that CC licenses are not suitable for mainstream adoption
  • Cuts off a potential entry path for people new to free licensing, at least those who want to use 4.0 NC licenses; but, would this group use 3.0 NC/ND licenses, or simply not use CC at all?
  • Prohibits a community of users whose business model depends on NC from upgrading to 4.0, including musicians, photographs, and others that use NC licenses so that they can still collect royalties from collecting societies
  • Opens the door to a new license steward for NC licenses (and potentially ND), if they can provide a solution as good as or better than CC 3.0 licenses

users who want to use NC/ND will simply not upgrade to 4.0

  • users who want to use NC/ND will feel like second-class citizens because they have to use an older license version

Creative Commons has agreed to not pursue this option. It is a radical solution, and there is increased danger that there will be massive outcry from the community. CC could be seen as a poor license steward, as we would be admitting in some fashion that there is something wrong with the non-free licenses, which we’ve been championing and supporting for 10 years. This option would increase complexity for licensees in complying with license conditions, for example in having to comply with different mechanisms for attribution in order to remix works under 3.0 with those under 4.0. Our affiliate network has told us that not offering the NC licenses would be detrimental to their outreach. There is a potential that we would end porting of the licenses in 4.0. However, if we are set on this because we want to create a more internationally applicable license, then not versioning the nonfree licenses and suggesting that the community should just use the version 3.0 licenses seems contradictory and we’d lose all the benefits of having licensors upgrade to 4.0. This option should continue to be debated and considered at appropriate times, for example during a subsequent license version process.