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Creative Commons offers a set of license modules such as “Attribution” or “ShareAlike” that can be recombined to different copyright licenses (see for an overview). One such license module is the “non-commercial”-module. From the very beginning of Creative Commons this module was at the center of most of the license related debates.

First of all, the non-commercial clause was an attempt to enable both sharing and remixing among users and commercialization for creators. Successful examples of hybrid business models such as Jamendo rely on this clause: at Jamendo, musicians receive 50 percent of all revenue generated by commercial use of their works – for example when used in commercials, played as background music in restaurants or in films – while at the same time users can freely download, share and remix those works.

Powerful critics like Wikimedia’s vice-executive director Erik Möller, however, fundamentally challenge the need for a non-commercial module. For him the diversity of incompatible open content licenses is a major barrier for remixing different works. In his 2006 piece “The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons-NC License” he instead advocates using the copyleft module “ShareAlike.” (It is this module that Wikimedia recently chose for re-licensing its content, see “Wikimania Preview #1“.)

But even adopters and users of the non-commercial clause face the non-trivial problem of defining commercial and non-commercial use. Is it commercial use, for example, if content is used on a webpage of a non-profit organization (for example, a research centre), which allows advertisement on this webpage? What if the content is used by a government or state-run entity? What if the work would be posted on an aggregator website which hosts millions of works (such as YouTube or MySpace), and which makes money from the advertising because of the high volume of traffic it attracts? Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
May 2019
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Creative Commons License
All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.