September 18, 2009
Creative Commons Publishes Findings of Survey on What “Noncommercial Use” Means to the Online Community
Creative Commons has published Defining “Noncommercial”: A Study of How the Online Population Understands “Noncommercial Use.” The report details the results of a research study launched in September 2008 to explore differences between commercial and noncommercial uses of content found online, as those uses are understood by various communities and in connection with a wide variety of content
Excepted from the Executive Summary
The empirical findings suggest that creators and users approach the question of noncommercial use similarly and that overall, online U.S. creators and users are more alike than different in their understanding of noncommercial use. Both creators and users generally consider uses that earn users money or involve online advertising to be commercial, while uses by organizations, by individuals, or for charitable purposes are less commercial but not decidedly noncommercial. Similarly, uses by for-profit companies are typically considered more commercial. Perceptions of the many use cases studied suggest that with the exception of uses that earn users money or involve advertising – at least until specific case scenarios are presented that disrupt those generalized views of commerciality – there is more uncertainty than clarity around whether specific uses of online content are commercial or noncommercial.
Some stats excerpted from the press release:
Creative Commons noncommercial licenses preclude use of a work “in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.” The majority of respondents (87% of creators, 85% of users) replied that the definition was “essentially the same as” (43% of creators, 42% of users) or “different from but still compatible with” (44% of creators, 43% of users) theirs. Only 7% of creators and 11% of users replied that the term was “different from and incompatible with” their definition.
Other highlights from the study include the rating by content creators and users of different uses of online content as either “commercial” or “noncommercial” on a scale of 1-100, where 1 is “definitely noncommercial” and 100 is “definitely commercial.” On this scale, creators and users (84.6 and 82.6, respectively) both rate uses in connection with online advertising generally as “commercial.” However, more specific use cases revealed that many interpretations are fact-specific. For example, creators and users gave the specific use case “not-for-profit organization uses work on its site, organization makes enough money from ads to cover hosting costs” ratings of 59.2 and 71.7, respectively.
On the same scale, creators and users (89.4 and 91.7, respectively) both rate uses in which money is made as being commercial, yet again those ratings are lower in use cases specifying cost recovery or use by not-for-profits. Finally, both groups rate “personal or private” use as noncommercial, though creators did so less strongly than users (24.3 and 16.0, respectively, on the same scale).
Hat tip to Digital Koans. [JH]