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Creative Commons Blog
Creative Commons Launches Study of "Noncommercial Use"

Today, Creative Commons announced the launch of a research study that will explore differences between commercial and noncommercial uses of content. The study will explore how the definitions of "commercial use" and "noncommercial use" are understood among various communities and in connection with a wide variety of content.

"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."

If that sounds like a press release blurb, it's because it is. ;-)

While CC has a pretty clear idea of what we think and hope non-commercial means, "what does non-commercial mean?" is probably one of the questions I get asked most often. It is also one of the most discussed topics in our community. I think the results of this study will be very helpful in providing a perspective and help us explain and guide this conversation.

I'm not going to dive into a conversation about what non-commercial means. I'll save that until after the study comes out.

Special thanks The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its supporting this study.

1 Comment


Feel free to point researchers to MetaBrainz. Afterall, the most significant revenue stream for us hinges on the non-commercial definition of the CC license. We *love* CC licenses!