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The Creative Commons license enables us to share content but not lose it to the public domain.  The enabling nature of Creative Commons is such that it quickly allows us to show others what they can and can’t do with our works.

I often get asked, do I simply need to add the logo to my document…OR… do I have to go through some sort of application process???   The quick answer is; simply adding the license to your work is what needs to be done.  The long answer is; by adding the logo you are telling anyone who encounters your work, in this digital and interconnected world we live in, what they can do with it for years on.

I have often assumed that the Non-Commercial (NC) clause was an important one to include as I do not want someone else picking up my work and making that million dollars that I ’might’ have.  In fact the decision of which license to use is a major one and has implications beyond the moment you choose to publish.

There are growing arguments for liberalizing the concept of sharing which challenge the Creative Commons NC clause.  If you do choose a NC license you risk being excluded from other free online content sources such as Wikipedia.  Wikipedia, a tremendous success as we all know, also uses Creative Commons licenses.  This may be news to some, but Wikipedia actually encourages commercial uses of their online content.  From the Wikipedia terms of use:

To grow the commons of free knowledge and free culture, all users contributing to Wikimedia projects are required to grant broad permissions to the general public to re-distribute and re-use their contributions freely, as long as the use is attributed and the same freedom to re-use and re-distribute applies to any derivative works.

The idea of growing the commons of free knowledge is particular exciting.  By using the share alike model, seeds are planted as any further re-use or modification of the work implies the same sharing model.

A question arises when considering the use of NC licensed material in educational settings.  Does it make a difference if the use is by an individual, non-profit institution, or profit institution?  These questions and uncertainties may also lead to the non-use of the material where it’s needed most.

An issue we have often discussed is the potentially detrimental effect to developing communities in accessing NC material.  Consider the example of the resource constrained school teacher who wants to print out and distribute Creative Commons material.  They may need to charge a small fee to recoup the cost of printing.  This could be forbidden under a NC clause.

When you license your work with Creative Commons you are defining its acceptable use for years to come.  A NC clause may in fact ensure that it is never used long after you have a stake in it.

If your work is popular and of high quality, it will be available on the Internet for free because the license makes it possible.  To make a substantial profit from the work, a company would have to provide added value beyond what is available for free. A NC license stops any such attempt to add value, is this what we really want?

Some argue that in a knowledge economy, value and creativity in the use of available resources might be more valuable and make more sense than re-inventing the wheel in the first place.  The non-commerical clause creates restrictions on material which can lead to the material being difficult to use.

Lets face it, if you are using a creative commons license in the first place, you want to share right?  It does not make too much sense to choose an open license and then restrict it with a NC clause.  The Share Alike (SA) clause is quite helpful to ensure the work continues along an open and accessible path.  As my new friend Wayne Mackintosh has said:

Going with CC-BY-SA — your work is now legally compatible with the world’s largest database of free content — without the risks of commercial exploitation using the copy left provision.

This blog is now licensed with a Creative Commons Share Alike license which meets the requirements of the Free Cultural works definition.

References: http://freedomdefined.org/Licenses/NC

Understanding the Creative Commons Non-Commercial License

CC BY 4.0 Understanding the Creative Commons Non-Commercial License by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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