Skip to content

Discussion Draft – NonCommercial Guidelines


So the topic of what constitutes a “noncommercial use” under those Creative Commons licenses that contain the NonCommercial license option has been a perennial source of debate over the years. Shortly after I first started with Creative Commons, I posted an interpretation of “noncommercial” to the cc-education list which was consistent with that community’s understanding of the term but which then seemed to cause considerable consternation on the cc-licenses list. This also lead to what may be able to be described as one of the most comprehensive noncommercial use cases list in the history of, well, a lot of things.

To reconcile the otherwise potentially different views of different CC communities and try to clarify some of the easier and more realistic use cases, we at CC and through our international network of affiliates have been working over many months (with the invaluable assistance of one of our summer interns – Laura Lynch who spent her summer on the issue – on trying to draft possible guidelines on what does and what does not constitute a noncommercial use. Obviously, it’s not possible to define noncommercial for every single situation. However, we have attempted to craft these guidelines to resolve some of the more common and pressing questions about what is and what is not a noncommercial use in the CC world.

These guidelines have undergone tremendous internal debate and discussion amongst staff and our international affiliates. They have been considerably improved and revised in the process so, particularly in light of the most recent discussion on the list we thought now would be a great opportunity to expand the debate and invite more analysis, debate and discussion from all of you who are also heavily involved in the practices and application of CC licenses.

Please note – these guidelines are not set in stone; they are a draft subject to debate, discussion and refinement by all those who adopt CC licenses and use CC licensed content, ie. you. Let us know what you think – these guidelines have been posted here. Join the discussion here.

Update: An online version of the current draft of the guidelines are available here and a PDF is downloadable from this page.

Posted 10 January 2006