CC-What? Part 1: No NC (#h817open, activity 9)

For week three of the Open Education course at the Open University that I am participating in (though we are now in week 5), one of the activities is to choose a Creative Commons license for “your blog content and other material you produce.” Of course, the latter is so vague that it might be difficult for some to say what license they might use for all of it, as they might end up using different licenses for different things. I am likely to just use one, but I may be in the minority.

I have already gone through some soul-searching on this very issue, but in a direction I haven’t seen in any of the other blogs I’ve looked at for this course: in an earlier post I asked why even use CC-BY instead of, say, CC0, which is more like putting one’s work into the public domain. I’m still undecided, but at this point (as you can tell from this site) am still using CC-BY for my blog.

But what I haven’t done is try to explain why I use CC-BY instead of CC-BY-NC (non commercial) or SA (share alike) on my blog, and why I would probably use CC-BY on any OER I might create (unless I decide to use CC0 instead). Generally, I use CC-BY  because I want to leave my work free for anyone to use however they like. But the issues involved are really quite complicated.

I’m only going to discuss NC and SA and SA in this and the next post, because I can’t imagine asking people not to make derivatives of what I create–it just seems part of sharing freely, to me, that people can revise and remix my work. This post is about why I don’t use CC-BY-NC, and the next is about why I don’t use CC-BY-SA.

[Thanks to David Kernohan, Pat Lockley, Brian Lamb, Rob Myers and Joss Winn for providing some links and ideas on Twitter that I’ve used in this and the next post.]

Commercial use

I’ve read several blog posts in the OU Open Education course that opt for CC-BY-NC  (such as this one by Nick Hoodthis one by David (I can’t find a last name) , this one by Daniela Signor and this one by Sukaina Walji.) Some express the sentiment that if they are giving away things for free, then they don’t want others to be making money off of them. I have to say that I kind of get this sentiment, but also not. I guess the idea is that if any money is to be made from what is produced, then the producer should be the one to benefit rather than someone who has just taken the content for free. This sentiment seems to make sense in a market economy, where many people feel that their work should be compensated monetarily if someone else is making money from it; alternatively, some may think it wrong for others to make money from something they have either not worked on or not paid for.

Of course, this sort of thinking should lead people to support open access publishing, since, increasingly, there is not much that publishers do that justifies them closing off access to publications and charging a fee…but that’s an argument for another day (and more complex than I’m making it out here, yes).


I get the idea that if money is being made from something, it seems fair to give some money to those who created the item in the first place. But it seems to me that once you decide to give your work away to be used, altered and remixed by others, it might be better thought of as a gift than a market commodity. And when you give something away as a gift, you might be said to be allowing the recipient(s) to do whatever they like with it. Sure, some people might be a bit upset if they gave a gift that another person decided to sell–but would they be upset because the other person made money off of something that they got for free and therefore didn’t have the right to make money from? To me, that doesn’t really make sense; if you give it away, it becomes someone else’s to do with as they wish.

When I give my stuff away, I’m saying goodbye to control over what happens to it afterwards, because it’s no longer just mine.

I realize that one of the benefits of CC licenses, though, is to allow people flexibility in the degree to which they want to think of their creations as gifts. And some people won’t accept that way of thinking. So here are some other thoughts.

  • If I have chosen not to try to make money off my work, why get upset if someone else does? After all, I could have tried to do so myself, but decided (for whatever reasons) not to. I gave up that option when I didn’t need to. I don’t really understand the sentiment that, if I am not going to make money off my work then no one else can either. Just because I chose to give up getting a financial reward, why must everyone else do so? If it’s because they didn’t work on it or pay for it, consider:
  • If someone is going to be able to make money off of something I created, they are going to have to do some work that I chose not to do, such as marketing it. After all, if I already put it out for free for others to reuse, change, remix, then there is probably going to have to be some kind of value added to it in order for others to be willing to pay. Such as, at least, making it well-known through publicity efforts.


An argument for using NC could alternatively be made as follows. A person might use NC on their work so that IF someone else thinks they could make money from what the first person has created, then in order for that to happen the other party must contact and discuss this with the creator, and the creator could set terms that require payment to him/herself. I see that, but even then one is not likely to get much (how much do we get in royalties for academic books, say? A pittance, usually), and to me, especially thinking about my own work, this overvalues the remote possibility of a significant financial gain while ignoring some much more likely costs.

Some of these costs are addressed in article by Erik Möller that has been put into a wiki page. I won’t go through them here because they are pretty well explained on that page. And here’s a nice post by Kathi Fletcher focusing on problems with NC for OERs. Finally, this booklet by Paul Klimpel points out (on pp. 14-15) that the NC clause may actually end up prohibiting use of items by organizations and projects that endorse and promote “open” work, while not stopping large commercial companies from using them against the NC license (because they can absorb the cost of a lawsuit if it should ever come). (The booklet as a whole provides many useful arguments against using NC licenses.)

I’ll just add that this post by Daniel Clark, for the OU Open Education course, nicely addresses the point about the ambiguity of “commercial” in the NC licenses. These comments by David Wiley do too (on a discussion of NC licenses for OER, hosted by UNESCO). And having a license with ambiguous terms is not just a philosophical problem; it can mean that fewer people will use your work because they may be unsure whether their use falls under the vague “commercial” terms.

I have sometimes wondered whether this blog counts as “non commercial,” even, given that it is hosted and supported by the University of British Columbia, which, after all, charges money for its courses and thus “makes money” in some sense. It is syndicated on UBC’s “A Place of Mind” site, and thereby acts as part of the university’s publicity strategy in some (very small) sense. To the extent that my blog might help attract students (hmmm, not sure about that one) or donors (ditto), one might say it’s part of the university’s revenue stream. I realize that’s quite a stretch, but that it could even make sense to consider it shows that “non commercial” is unclear.

And this post by David Wiley shows that I am not alone in asking this sort of question (though the question there is slightly different: it’s about whether a textbook licensed NC could be used for a course that students have to pay for, and Wiley answers yes). I don’t ever use images for this blog that have an NC license, even though I am pretty sure I could. Who knows; maybe someday I’ll move this blog over to a platform on which I actually try to make some money through ads (highly unlikely but…). I refuse to go through and change images from the past were such a thing ever to occur.

Commercial enclosure

There is, however, a more pressing argument for the use of NC, given by Stephen Downes (an example can be found here, in the UNESCO discussion noted above). One part of this is that without the NC clause, commercial ventures can take what is freely available and work hard to “enclose” it completely by closing off access to its free versions. Here’s another iteration of this argument, this time focused on the real-world example of Flat World Textbooks at first publishing free textbooks and then beginning to charge for them. This is a harder point to argue against, for it is clear that those who have a vested interest in profit-making from educational resources will be motivated to find ways to enclose any free versions that might exist (though David Wiley does provide a rebuttal to such arguments, in the UNESCO discussion). Downes defines “commercial use” as “the act of restricting access,” in the UNESCO discussion, which makes sense to me, and I can see the point of trying to use NC to keep access open.

After all, in my “gift” image provided above, what could happen is that I could give something away to anyone and everyone who wanted it (because it’s not just one thing, but reusable, revisable, remixable by anyone), but then one of those recipients could decide they want to make sure no one else can have that gift as a gift. That goes against the spirit of what I tried to do in the first place.

Gratis and libre

So really, the issue seems to come to this (as I’m understanding it): using something like CC-BY only (or CC0) is freeing it in the sense of making it “libre” but could lead to it not being free in the sense of “gratis” (see Wikipedia on libre and gratis). But if you use an NC license, then you might be (if Downes is right) protecting the freedom of that work in terms of it being “gratis,” but it’s not “libre” in the sense of it being available for anyone to do anything they like with it. You’re restricting it to only some kinds of uses.

Downes addresses this distinction somewhat differently, here. He argues that we can look at freedom from the perspective of either the people who already have access to some work or those who do not yet have such access. For the former, freedom in the sense of libre means they can do whatever they wish with the work they already have. For the latter, allowing work to be behind a paywall means many can’t access it at all, much less do anything further with it. The second perspective, he argues, is as important as the first (and for those who can’t access works at all it is more important).

No NC for me

Thus, it depends on which sort of freedom you want to promote, I suppose. I think that the idea of letting people do what they wish with what I create (at least much of it; don’t know yet if all) is more important to me, mostly because of

(a) the ambiguity of “commercial”

(b) I don’t expect to be producing anything that will likely be enclosed by a commercial interest

(c) if someone can add value to my stuff and make some money, that’s fine with me b/c I gave it away by choice rather than trying to do so myself.

I still think of it like a gift, and because of (b) I am not terribly concerned about it becoming enclosed so that others can’t access it freely. I agree rather with Mike Seyfang here, that what I’m most concerned about is people finding and using my work. That’s pretty cool. But unlike what he says in that post, I kind of don’t care about people recognizing it as my work.

What is really needed, I think, is a less blunt instrument to do what Downes wants to do. “Noncommercial” is not only too vague, but too broad a term. I don’t mind if someone uses my stuff to make money for themselves and I don’t care if they ask me first because I don’t feel a need to have a share. But what I don’t want is for them to lock out access for anyone else to have my stuff that I’ve given away for free. Is there some other way to keep that from happening? Downes himself notes a need for such a thing, here:

…we want, I think, something like a ‘free content declaration’, a statement we can link to that identifies our desire, as providers of open content, to ensure that it remains open.

And CC-licenses won’t do this for us, Downes argues. But he uses NC in the meantime, which I have decided not to do, for reasons noted above.

There is, though, an argument that the “share alike” CC license (CC-BY-SA) could prevent commercial enclosure, which I’ll consider in the next post.



    1. Thanks, David–I’m glad it might be useful to others. I spent a whole lot of time researching all this and trying to weigh the issues as carefully as possible. I don’t think I’ve said anything new here, but maybe it’s useful as a resource connecting to a lot of other great things other people have said.

  1. This is excellent.

    One thing I’d say is that commerce and enclosure are separate issues. In the language of free software, it is possible to have commercially produced free software. It’s just not possible to have proprietary (enclosed) free software, whether produced commercially or non-commercially, as it’s a contradiction in terms.

    NC is enclosure, or at the very least it excludes people. If someone works for a university that fits the definition of noncommercial and produces their work for the university under an NC license, they will be alienated from that work if they choose to or are forced to work somewhere that doesn’t fit the definition of noncommercial. Likewise they cannot benefit from commercial materials that could benefit their work, and anyone who is reliant on commercial actors for their access to the work is excluded.

    1. Hi Rob: Thanks for the comment!

      I agree that NC excludes people, and too many people, given its ambiguous nature. Good point about moving jobs–hadn’t thought of that. However, if it’s one’s own work, isn’t it possible to change the CC license and then use it for commercial purposes later? Of course, this requires that one’s work at a university count as one’s “own,” and is not the property of the university itself, which is an issue in some places, I know. UBC’s policies are, I think, that teaching materials belong to the faculty member, but I also know that they are in the process of being revised, so I need to keep an eye on this.

      I also agree that commerce and enclosure can be separate issues, for the reasons you note. Stephen Downes’ argument is that even though legally something licensed as SA, for example, should not be able to be enclosed, large commercial interests will work hard to do so anyway, by various means–some of which are, I think, legal (like finding ways to encourage their own works to show up in search engines while the free versions are buried). I don’t know enough to say whether such things are likely to happen or not, though they are certainly possible (and he gives some examples of situations where such things have happened). Perhaps only time will tell which strategy is best, whether his fears are warranted or not?

      1. It is possible to relicense if one is the copyright holder yes, I do mean where the university owns the work. I should have been clearer. I could wriggle a bit and say if it’s collaboratively written you’d need to get your co-authors’ permissions as well, but that wasn’t what I had in mind.

        Large commercial interests will always try to enclose, and we will always have to adapt to their strategies. Licenses are revised to do so over time. But licenses are just a part of the equation, and reform of existing institutions or the creation of new ones is also necessary. So I guess I agree with Downes here, although I still think copyleft is important once you receive the work.

        1. Good point, Rob, about licenses being just part of the equation, and revisable over time. I agree about reforming institutions and creating new ones, though what, exactly, that will look like to avoid the enclosure issue is something I’m not sure about yet.

  2. I wonder how important your second point (“b”), is. I.e. that you don’t immediately see anyone using what you produce for commercial purposes. My feeling is that I still have the capacity to be surprised. Who knew that people would repackage Wikipedia content as books to be sold on Amazon? And presumably people buy them. Crazy, but true.

    Me, I think a) I am against the enclosure of the commons and b) using your gift analogy, if I give someone a gift and they immediately (or even subsequently) sell it off then, no, I’m not sure they’ll be getting any more gifts from me.

    On the other hand, I realize that my blog doesn’t explicitly have any license at all. I’d better fix that pronto!

    1. Hi Jon:

      (b) is my weakest point, and I knew it all along. If I think that people might use my freely-given work in all sorts of ways I can’t imagine (which I say either in this post or the next one, on ShareAlike…can’t remember), then why not be able to imagine they could use it in a way that leads to commercial enclosure? I can certainly imagine some commercial uses of my work; it was the large ones that might lead a company to try to enclose the free versions I was having a hard time imagining for what I do (as opposed, say, to some tech/application/software work, e.g.). But who knows.

      I am against enclosure of the commons as well, and am pretty convinced by the arguments that ShareAlike may do that better than NC, though the situation there is pretty complex too (see next post). Using NC just leaves out too many possible uses that I would be happy to allow. If worrying about having some big corporation or what have you enclosing the free versions of your work, SA might do the trick better.

  3. Oh, and one more thing: I very specifically don’t want my employer (the university) re-packaging and commodifying my work for commercial use. We are guilty of enough self-exploitation as it is. At the same time, I realize that this is a grey area. In so far as people like my work (teaching, research, whatever), then the university benefits, and among its benefits are financial. But so be it. At least with a CC-BY-NC license they can’t be too crass about it.

    1. Your point here is a valid one, that many of us already allow ourselves to be too exploited, so why let the university profit off our work in yet another way? That does give me some pause, but at the same time, it’s really up to individuals to decide whether they want to give this stuff away to any and all, including their own employers (who, as you note, are already profiting from our “free” work in blogs and possibly OERs, which could be considered a voluntary add-on to our contracted work). I completely understand and respect your desire to not allow this to happen. Me, I’m not quite as fussed about it. At least not at the moment. But I’m open to further discussion and possibly changing my mind at some point.

  4. I should also, by the way, thank you for spending the time to think through and explain these issues in such detail and clarity. Very helpful.

  5. I may have this wrong, but as the original author and licensor of content, I believe I am free to grant *additional* rights to that content on an ad hoc basis (but not to revoke them after they have been released under a certain license.) This for me is the reason in choosing, with Stephen, the NC license, because “enclosure” is a very real thing (cf – enclosure can be effectively accomplished on the internet by obscuring/burying the original in search results.) I don’t want to prohibit “commercial” uses when that refers to things like charging nominal fees to cover printing charges to turn something I’ve written into a handout for a workshop, but this is something that can still be arranged even with an NC license by simple request.

    To the person above arguing that commerce and enclosure aren’t the same thing – sure, they’re not. But commerce, when based on a model of value through scarcity, has a natural tendency to enclose. And when the people building the maps (google) to the commons also are driven by profit, you brew a perfect storm of commercial interests restricting access to free (in EVERY sense other than “free to sell”) resources to the majority of people they were intended to serve.

    1. By granting additional rights on an ad hoc basis, I’m assuming you mean that if someone asks to use your work in a commercial way you can agree to let them do that, even though technically that might otherwise violate the terms of the NC license. I don’t know for certain, but the number of discussions I’ve read about this indicating that such a thing is perfectly fine indicate to me that it probably is; but again, I haven’t looked into it deeply. David Wiley did point out to me, in a tweet, section 8e of the NC license (, which indicates that you can’t add additional provisions but you can alter the license through a written agreement. So it does appear that if you agree in writing to allow some commercial use, then that’s probably fine. Of course, if it’s not, it’s unlikely anyone is going to press the issue.

      I worry, though, about relying on people to come to me to ask to use work in a commercial way when I have the NC license on it. It’s an extra step, of course, and some people are not willing to make it when there are other options out there that are more or less equally good (which I think is the case for my own work). Perhaps I am not giving people enough credit, but the message that seems sent with NC is: if you want to use it for a commercial purpose, then forget it. I suppose one could try to reach out through some kind of message on one’s work, saying that one is open to discussion on some commercial uses…just ask (or something like that). But then, for me, I’d have to weigh which sorts of commercial uses I think are okay and which are not, and this could get a bit messy, and I’m not sure I want to put myself in the position of determining the relative merits of some commercial uses over others. On what grounds, exactly? Likely enclosure down the road? perhaps, but I don’t know what is going to lead to that and what is not.

      I am rather more persuaded by Pat’s point that if work is publicly funded (which mine is, for the most part), then it ought to be available to the public to do with as they choose rather than me being the judge of who gets to use it for what. However, I do realize that commercial enclosure could mean that this precisely does not happen, that it no longer is available.

      I’m still not persuaded, however, that commercial enclosure of my own work is likely. Thank you for the extra example of how it can happen, in your post, which helped me see the issue even better. It is certainly the case that commercial ventures can use SEO to hide free/open options that are doing the same thing (in this case a service, but in terms of licenses we’re talking about a work of some kind). I can imagine that if I created something worth monetizing by a large company, they could effectively bury my free version in search results. Still, if it were useful enough, it might be on various sites, or in a repository that is well known and well used (hoping someday such a thing exists for OER), and thus still findable. Maybe not the very top result(s), but not completely gone.

      Generally I am very sympathetic to the arguments you’re putting forth, and I, too, am worried about commercial enclosure being a tendency. Ultimately one has to balance dangers, and I’m still waiting to see evidence that works licensed with CC-BY are fairly often enclosed in a way that makes them difficult to access for a lot of people. That it can happen, I have no doubt, but that it is likely is something I haven’t yet seen evidence for. So at this point, I prefer to err on the side of allowing commercial uses, especially given the sorts of things I create right now (which I don’t think are terribly likely to get monetized by anyone big enough to carry out effective enclosure). Right now, I think that NC leads to more downsides in my particular circumstances than up.

    2. I don’t think SEO can be, enclosure, even with the adoption of effectively as a disclaimer. Partially as a properly licensed material can be removed from the enclosure, and so is an enclosed item, not enclosed land. So for example, when Flat World changed their license, people actively downloaded the content and hosted elsewhere. This was an action of counter enclosure. If a site, via it’s own SEO, attracted people in who could, then, in theory, strip all of those assets and re-host them. So the SEO would be a Pyrrhic victory.

      Also, if the material is indexable via google – then to an extent it is accessible – either by a web browser, or some agent spoofing.

      To accept SEO as enclosure would be to assume the original material should place higher in search results, but often repositories, such as MERLOT and OER commons place higher in search results than the original material? I would assume a site bringing together resources may naturally place higher as more people link to it. The bigger the library, the more visitors. I don’t think there is an argument that suggests the original should appear higher in search results than duplicates? I think without a framework which can assess the correct place a site should return, then SEO as enclosure seems a hard measure to assess.

      Commerce is based on value through scarcity doesn’t reply if your resources is more open. This is because the model of consumption is different – there is no ownership transfer, so once taken by N, it can also be taken by N+1. In classical economics terms this scale doesn’t apply, but to me this a discrete mathematics problem. If the act of taking doesn’t reduce the supply then what is scarcity. As much as each individuality item can be enclosed, there is no system in place within this act of enclosure to prevent the generation of N new items,

      If tying the scarcity to SEO, then, perhaps, but that then relies on how much people want to look for something, and which tools exist to facilitate the discovery of them. With all OER in a central repository, as one example, then SEO is nothing at all.

      1. Pat, no argument, I use the term “enclosure” only metaphorically when applied to openly licensed materials, as of course you are correct that the original always remains. But what I was referring to was the practice of enabling the selling of unaltered/unimproved copies of open resources through burying the original so effectively via SEO that the original effectively vanishes from sight. So sure, new copies of the free (price) resource can be circulated in the hopes of I making the fact that these were always available without cost, but this I implies someone even knows this obscuring is going on. If you think this is a fairy tale, look into the insane number of titles being published on Amazon, for profit, that are essentially mined open content, particularly Wikipedia content. Is this “enclosure?” No, I agree, not in the traditional sense. But I’d be surprised if it doesn’t run counter to the original licensors in choosing an open license. Will choosing an NC license prevent this? Likely not, but at least it’s not giving blanket license to do this, and when commercial interests control many of the means of discovery for people (e.g. Search engines, online stores – only in or DREAMS do most people outside of the edtech echo chamer choose a site like Merlot first) it becomes not just a possibility but a likelihood.

        1. gutenberg and wikipedia are scraped like no one would believe. But I still think this means an “original first” SEO position?

          Does anyone looking to buy something not look for something cheaper elsewhere?

          The NC license stops nothing, as most people ignore it, even professional companies

          For example, Independent (UK newspaper) 1,800 possible license violations, or failure to attribute properly.


          So if even commercial orgs – not just these SEO “slums” (Severance) are stealing licensed content, then you have two options.

          1) NC license it and hope people respect that, but prevent good commercial usages from occurring
          2) CC without NC, and allow good commercial usages (which might beat the SEO spam as well).

          I’d prefer 2.

          But I also think CC and Wikipedia need to pull their finger out and start litigating.

  6. Two questions

    Why should a work that already exists, and has already been paid for, when distributed in a different economy incur a second payment?

    I can see – and compare with say Chuck S’s piece on his son – but if the work is created by public funding – then how is not CC-BY a minimum? Because the public paid for it, so logically they have some right to access.

    How can this argument be applied for example, if the NC enclosure criticism argument is also used. If a public good can be kept closed and not CC-BY, then that is akin to NC anyways.

    The NC as enclosure prevention is also problematic, as it Chuck S’s belittling of websites as content slums – because there is content everywhere, and the idea of a monolithic single educational voice sounds like some Babelesque folly. I think if your work is “online” in some form, then it is likely that it is already part of a “slum”. Just see how much Wikipedia and Gutenberg have been scrapped. Shakespeare’s been scrapped, and I think he a *teensy* bit better than Severance.

    All rights reserved, but online, is too me, arrogant and hypocritical. venerating the self over the potential of plurality.

    Two – What is wrong with someone making money from your stuff? If economically you’re ok, then I can’t see the harm?

    1. Good point, Pat, about work done by me under the aegis of my work, which is paid for (in part) through public funds. So whatever teaching/learning materials I create should be open to public access. Now, to play devil’s advocate, though, NC could still be open to public access (as could SA). They can still see it, use it, create derivatives, etc. How does not allowing others to make money from such materials mean they are not getting enough access? Why is CC-BY a minimum for public access? Ultimately, as you know, I think CC-BY is a minimum, but I want to hear more about why it might be one for public access.

      Perhaps your other points explain this, but I’m having trouble getting your point about the NC enclosure criticism. That is the one that says you should use NC in order to avoid commercial enclosure. I’m not getting what you mean by this: “If a public good can be kept closed and not CC-BY, then that is akin to NC anyways.” Do you mean that if you use NC to avoid commercial enclosure, you’re still closing off a public good, enclosing it in some way? I’m afraid that’s not your point, though. Explain?

      When talking about Chuck S, I think you’re referring to this post (just for anyone who doesn’t know). I agree with you that I’m not terribly worried about having a single educational voice, or about my work ending up in “content slums” (I don’t even really know what that is supposed to mean). If it’s just someone else putting up my teaching videos on their own YouTube channel, e.g., then I don’t care. I can’t tell from his posts what else happened to him, though he does talk about other hypothetical situations like writing a book, publishing as CC-BY, then trying to charge for print copies when someone else has already put it up for sale in print on Createspace. But again, that’s not something I, personally, am concerned about. If someone really wants to keep the option of making money off their work in some way, then perhaps NC is better for them.

      I agree with you, as you can tell, about others making money from my stuff. And that’s probably because, as you point out, I’m economically fine because I have a job that pays me to make this stuff whether I share it or not. I don’t need to make money to survive off of what I create in any other way that through my salary. I’m lucky that way; some people do need to make money off of what they create, and I don’t begrudge them that option.

      And I, too, prefer the potential for plurality, for collaboration, even just for sharing what I’ve done and letting others do whatever they will with it, even if I don’t end up knowing about it. Which is why CC0, or something like it, is still attractive. It’s just the possibility of learning from what others have done with my stuff, and possibly connecting to them and collaborating that keeps me using CC-BY for the moment (as discussed in comments to this post).

      Still, all rights reserved and online is a way for some people to make a living from what they’ve created–people can see it and decide if they want to purchase. I’ll happily pay an artist or a developer for something I can’t create myself, and want, if it means that will allow them to keep working and they couldn’t do so otherwise. I would prefer works to be open to sharing, revision, derivative-creation, but in the current market structure, that isn’t always feasible economically for everyone.

      However, I fear this is getting me into dangerous territory of trying to legislate when it’s okay for people to charge money for their stuff and when it’s not…beyond the publicly funded stuff discussed above, I worry about telling others whether they can charge, whether they can close off their work and when they ought not to. Where do I draw the line between those who really need the money from selling their works and those who just want a little more? Which is why I’ve worded my posts in a way that focuses on my own decisions, in my own situation. Still, of course, I’m up for trying to convince others with arguments about the problems with NC, which is partly what I’ve attempted to do here as well.

      1. NC – If you create a public good – to what rights do you, as creator have a say over how it is used by anyone? That’s why NC is a bit sly – it is a public good, but as long as you don’t want to make money from it.

        NC 2 – Non-commercial is ringfencing off the bad commercial from the pure angelic non-commercials. It seems a form of self-defence / self-promotion

        1. Right, okay–if it’s a public good, then it should be given to the public. I guess it depends on what makes something count as a public good. Publicly funded, perhaps? Things do get a bit sticky, though, because where is the line between what people create due to their publicly-funded jobs and what they create on their “own time”? And, say, if they’re using their own equipment and own hosting service, etc. (unlike what I’m doing–this blog and my equipment belong to my Uni).

          We agree insofar as I do think of what I create as a public good, just b/c I want to share it and others might find it useful…and I get value from what others share similarly. But what should count as a public good is an interesting question, really.

          As for #2: I do see that by using NC in the way Downes suggests, the hope is to avoid the bad commercial, but in the process you get rid of all commercial uses (unless people choose to ask you for use for their “good” commercial, which many people won’t do…they’ll just go find something else). And that in using an NC you are suggesting that noncommercial is all good and commercial is all bad, even if that’s not what you mean to suggest–that’s the implication, in a way. And that’s a false dichotomy, indeed.

          How it’s self promotion, though,… because one wants to keep the possibility of selling one’s stuff for oneself? Or one’s promoting oneself as only supporting the “pure angelic”?

          1. Well copyright blurs the edges of who owns what and when, but that is probably an employment contract issue.

            If you prevent other people using and repurposing it, that says to me “This is perfect”

            1. Yes, copyright and employment contracts make things complicated. From what I can tell reading the legal documents from UBC about all this, I own my teaching and learning materials, as well as my research materials, in the sense that I could copyright them if I want. Which is why I have the choice to put CC licenses on. At least I think I’m right about that.

              And okay, if you’re not going to let other people revise or make derivatives, that does suggest that you’re thinking your work is perfect as is. I suppose that using NC could suggest that too, that people who are using it for some kind of money-making purpose couldn’t possibly add to your work in any way, including putting it to new uses or making derivatives (as long as you don’t use ND), because it’s good as is. Or rather, perhaps, it could suggest that only those using it for noncommercial purposes, or making derivatives for such, can add anything of use to it; the commercial ones can’t possibly do so. Though that’s not the main reason most people use NC, I think, it is an implication one can get from the use of the NC license. And to me, that doesn’t make any sense.

                1. Sorry–that was unclear. I just meant that it makes no sense to suggest that only noncommercial uses or revisions of one’s work can add any value. Though, again, I think many people who use NC don’t think this way, it can appear as an implication of the use of NC, an unintended message, as it were.

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