Here’s another thing.
Since it was launched, people have been touting Creative Commons as a great idea. And it is, frankly. There are a lot of creators out there who do want to share their work in a spirit that focuses on attribution and perpetuating the work (because the more a work is distributed the more it will live on, one way or another). And — well, I don’t need to promote CC or point out how it’s been used by various publishers and self-publishers.
But just one thing: please, before you decide to use a CC licence for your work, make sure it means what you think it means.
Publishers may choose the non-commercial use version of the CC licence, thinking that by doing so they have prevented anybody from profiting in any way from the use of their work. When you read the bright, clear language on the allegedly “human-readable summary” page for the attribution-noncommercial-noderivs (unported) CC licence, you see this:
Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
That’s great. However, you might not realize that this does not guarantee that the CC licence prohibits any commercial use.
Why? Because the CC licence makes a point of stating that, notwithstanding the rest of its provisions, there is no derogation from the user’s fair dealing or fair use rights. If you read a little further down on the human-readable summary page, you’ll also see this:
Your fair dealing and other rights are in no way affected by the above.
(If you’re reading a US-ported version, it will say “fair use”.)
And if you click through to read the actual licence text (which, by the way, was written by a human, too), you’ll see (unported version again):
Nothing in this License is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any uses free from copyright or rights arising from limitations or exceptions that are provided for in connection with the copyright protection under copyright law or other applicable laws.
The fact is that while much of fair dealing or fair use is non-commercial in nature, some uses of copyrighted works may be fair and have a commercial aspect at the same time. If I do research in order to provide a service to clients who pay me for my work, depending on my activity I may be dealing fairly with the research materials I use, but there is still a commercial aspect to my use.
Let’s take the example of the previous post: the situation where the publisher doesn’t want somebody making money by teaching classes from patterns that are distributed free of charge, even if the teacher directs the students to get their own copies. Clearly, there is some kind of commercial use going on; the teacher (who probably has her own copy) is reading the pattern, and helping her students knit the pattern from their own copies — for a fee. The exam question: would a CC non-commercial licence suit the publisher’s requirements, and why or why not? Would your answer change if the teacher did hand out copies of the pattern, otherwise in accordance with the attribution and non-derivation requirements? Would your answer change again if it was not a teacher, but a retailer who displayed a knit sample next to a pile of yarn for sale, and handed out cards with the pattern’s URL (not the pattern)?
The bottom line is this: if you are uncertain whether a commercial use falls within fair use or fair dealing, and you are interested in prohibiting that kind of use, seriously consider whether a CC licence is your best option. You might need to impose some other kind of licence agreement to protect your work the way you want.