Adding more value with Creative Commons

While I was laying awake last night because of the heat here in the Netherlands I started thinking about something which kept me awake even a little longer.

I was thinking about the Creative Commons licenses – the Non-Commercial attribute (see

Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

Although I am not a marketeer or such a smart guy like Seth Godin, I do feel this is not the perfect message we are sending to our audience, our fans.

“You may not use this work for commercial purposes.” I think a lot of people are thinking that the work is not meant for commercial use which is not true. So aren’t we simply sending the wrong message to our fans then? Shouldn’t we simply have a statement in a license which states something like ‘This work can be re-licensed for commercial use but for non-commercial use you are free to use, copy and share this work.’ Sure, my English is not perfect, but I think you’ll understand the message here.

So instead of saying (sort of) “no, we’re not interested to make a buck with it” we should really focus on making a buck with the work, and to promote the work as a potential commercial work. Any artist wants to make a buck or 2 or more with their work, or am I wrong?

So it’s all about the message we’re sending to the public. It’s also about the icon. Instead of using the CC dollar stop-sign, wouldn’t a dollar-sign not be better? This is what we want; we want to make a buck or 2, right?

Sure, I don’t think we need a total rewrite of these licenses but yes, I feel that someone like Seth Godin could probably reverse the whole perception of this Non-Commercial attribute. And let’s face it: it should not be a Non-Commercial attribute but a Commercial attribute because we want to make some money with that work and that’s the only reason for using the attribute NC after all!

Mmm… anyone? Seth Godin, Cory Doctorrow maybe?



‘This work can be re-licensed for commercial use but for non-commercial use you are free to use, copy and share this work.’

Yes, and it doesn’t require license changes at all. Offering commercial licensing is complementary to offering an NC public license (actually offering commercial licensing with idemnification is probably complementary to offering a public license that does allow commercial use, depending on the risk profile of the commercial user).

This is exactly what Magnatune does. It certainly could be more part of the human and machine-readable infrastructure CC offers to all. We’re working on it. There were hints in one of Lessig’s fundraising letters late last year. These things just take a little time to fully develop…

You may assume that great minds think alike. 🙂

I think that your point is a good one, because although you understand and I understand that “non-commercial” means “not licensed for commercial”, the layperson or aspiring end user may not understand that “non-commercial” means “available for easy license” in many cases, too.

Rather than altering the CC license, though, which would involve its own complexities (as contract/license language always does), it might be easier for the license user to just create a banner which says “Wish to make commercial use of this song? Click here”, or some such, just below the CC license.

I use both BY and NC licenses, but realize, over time, that I have a day job and that I love being sampled BY. I am always intrigued when I find other artists that I suspect would love to be remixed or used in any way, given attribution, who slap the NC tag on anyway. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the indelible power of the BY is eroded that way.

I’m not one of those who feels that all CC “should be” BY or even GNU.
I am glad to protect freedom to contract. I’m even comfortable with use of “all rights reserved” for those who love the Jurassic past. Yet my view is that the revolution will be televised, and podcast, and broadcast, and painted, and it will all be done on a BY and PD basis.

But back to your point, NC plus a referral to a licensing page would solve the concern.

I am glad to see these new developments. And that’s a major thing about CC I think; it’s not static but it will change over time, because people’s perception changes and innovation asks us to look differently to copyright issues all the time.

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