[okfn-discuss] Removing the nc: why license restrictions on commercial use are problematic and (frequently) unnecessary

Saul Albert saul at theps.net
Thu Apr 27 07:16:24 UTC 2006

On Wed, Apr 26, 2006 at 06:55:30PM +0100, Rufus Pollock wrote:
> Below are some thoughts, orginally posted on the blog, about why 
> restrictions on commercial use such as those found in the creative 
> common nc type licenses are problematic and, at least in some 
> circumstance, are also unnecessary.

Interesting, thanks Rufus.

I think when you stop thinking about 'content' and start thinking about
labour, it helps clarify how the non-commercial licenses are actually

Rob Myers says that the GPL is like a union or a guild - a way of
protecting ones labour from expropriation/exploitation - so you never
find yourself unable to benefit from the fruits of it. NC licenses are
just ridiculous in this context. It locks peoples labour into very
specific contexts - mostly academic or the hazy 'third sector' of NGOs,
quangos, and voluntary organisations that are pretty much commercial if
you regard students, governments and receivers of charitable funds and
services as 'clients' - which most of these organisations do.

The point of the Creative Commons licenses are to create more granular
definitions of 'IPR'* that fit the needs of a complex terrain of
many-to-many production, remix and consumption of information that is too
shifting and intertwined to be defined in terms of unilateral ownership.
In this context, where the smallest kinds of transactions can be
valorised, *everything* becomes commercial in some way, so the idea of
NC seems even more futile.

I don't really know why its so popular. It's probably a misdirection of
some kind, a way of isolating certain kinds of labour from certain kinds
of exchange - maybe a good way for naively ideological producers to
limit the scope of their activities to a kind of save zone of
irrelevance :).



* yes, I know, don't mention the war.

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