NC+: Allowable “NonCommercial” Uses for Cites & Insights and Walt at Random

I regard this interpretation as binding on all original material published in Cites & Insights or on Walt at random from now (January 29, 2006) until such time as this interpretation—which will be on my website at and at cites.boisestate. edu/ncinterp.htm—is removed from those websites and a revocation notice appears in Cites & Insights and in a blog posting (if W.a.r. still exists).

At that point, usage restrictions would fall back to the Creative Commons BY-NC license or any more flexible license I may have chosen to adopt at that point. As with the CC licenses themselves, a revocation notice would only affect future content, not content that has already appeared.

The short form

If you’re making money or trying to make money primarily or substantially by using more than fair-use portions of my stuff, I want a piece of the action. Otherwise, all I want is attribution—but I always appreciate notification (never mandatory) and a copy of any published work (also never mandatory).

That short form differs from the NC interpretation in one way: I don’t care whether you’re a person, an IRS-classified nonprofit, a political nonprofit (one that IRS doesn’t recognize for deductions), or a commercial entity. If your uses aren’t designed to make money primarily or substantially by using my stuff, fine with me.

The longer form

I don’t particularly care who uses my stuff. I don’t have to agree with your politics. I don’t have to agree with your business model.

You may use original material that I distribute under the Creative Commons BY-NC license under most circumstances, as long as you attribute it to me properly. Exceptions are cases where my material is used in a (planned) moneymaking venture where comparable material would be paid for as a matter of course under normal copyright law.

So, for example (all of these, I believe, extensions to the NC permissions), and noting that all of these uses require proper attribution and that you might let me know about them as a courtesy:

Ø    You can reprint one of these essays in a membership publication even if the editor is paid and there are ads, as long as most contributors aren’t paid.

Ø    You can reprint one of these essays in any publication or other medium that’s free (and freely available) to the end user, even if it’s sponsored at the back end and the publication or other medium contains ads.

Ø    You can repost a blog entry or one of these essays on a blog or website that carries ads, even if the ads are contextual ads that pop up because of the content in the essay or the post, unless the primary purpose of the blog or website is to post other people’s essays and gain ad revenue from them. You’d have to be pretty egregious to have difficulties here. If you’re making $10,000 a month from ads and sponsorship, 90% of your material is original, and you decide to quote an entire essay of mine with credit—well, good for you!

Ø    If you’re compiling a book of essays and most authors are not paid for their chapters, you can include one of these essays even though you and the publisher will presumably make money from the book. I would obviously appreciate notification and a copy of the book. (Consider this the book-chapter exception where most authors are academics or otherwise give away their work.)

Ø    On the other hand, you cannot compile a book of C&I essays, add an introduction or one or two unpaid essays, and sell that without my permission and a license fee. (Otherwise, I wouldn’t have the –NC license at all!)

Ø    None of this is creative fiction, at least not intentionally. I’m not sure what “derivative” means for nonfiction essays, other than translations or abridgements, but if you want to derive work from what I’ve done in CC-licensed form, that’s your business. I don’t use the NonDeriv clause. (I can see that translation or abridgement constitutes derivative work. If you want to translate one of my essays, provide proper attribution, and sell the results, I believe you’ve added enough value to deserve the proceeds. More power to you.)

One or two of these bullets grant significant additional rights. The second one means a library automation vendor could reprint the entire Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” issue with its own ads attached and pass it out for free, as long as it’s properly attributed. If the vendor goes on to say “Walt Crawford supports Miracle Library Software” there’s a problem—but it’s not a copyright problem.

I don’t buy the Free Content argument. I still believe that at some point it may make sense to bundle a bunch of these essays, probably with added content, as a PoD book or even a “real book.” I want to reserve the right to do that.

I hope that’s clear enough. It won’t satisfy Free Content people, but that’s not my problem.