Why I’m dropping the blog’s Creative Commons license

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Updated on June 14, 2022

For the two people who pay attention to my blog’s footer or other details, I’ve decided to drop the blog’s Creative Commons license and revert back to a typical copyright notice. While technically Creative Commons licenses are irrevocable, and thus any material someone’s used before this point will stay honored under such a license, I’ll be sticking with a standard copyright for now.

While I like Creative Commons material and licensing, I decided to drop it for the blog out of finding the non-commercial (BY NC) license I’d been using has some flaws. For starters, what’s deemed “commercial” or “non-commercial” felt vaguely defined. Apparently I’m not the only one wondering about such; I found various articles online debating this aspect. Creative Commons itself seems to imply that at minimum, it’s what I’ve assumed— as they define it, commercial use is “…one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.” Though what’s considered a “monetary compensation” seems questionable: would running ads on a site be such? Does it depend on how much the ads pull in?

Another reason is I wanted my material to be available for use or reference for non-commercial purposes, while forbidding commercial usage without my permission. However, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between CC BY-NC and conventional copyright in this regard. Either way, someone would have to email me to use major aspects of my blog for commercial reasons. Also, fair use laws already allow using aspects of my blog by others without asking me first.

There’s also that while my blog’s pictures in some posts fall under fair use (comic covers, TV show screenshots, etc.), I’m not sure I feel confident releasing those blog posts along with everything else on the blog under a “CC BY-NC, unless otherwise indicated” (the “otherwise indicated” being said material) statement. And removing said materials would A) be a pain and B) undermine some of those posts, as they couldn’t be easily replaced.

Finally, CC BY-NC doesn’t seem as versatile as more open licenses, such as CC BY or CC BY-SA. It doesn’t mix with certain other Creative Commons licenses that well, and apparently it also causes some problems with non-commercial uses that even regular copyright doesn’t have. Which might be one reason I don’t believe any of my blog’s material has been used by anyone under the CC license, at least based on a Google search.

Thus, since a regular copyright notice already serves much of the desired usage I wanted with CC BY-NC, but with less ambiguity, I’m just reverting to that. All of this said, I’m not knocking the value of Creative Commons. I still intend to make use of Creative Commons sourced photos, along with writing about freely usable materials. And of course I might decide to go back to a more lenient license (such as CC BY-SA) in the future. My Flickr photos will also still stay under Creative Commons licensing, with which they’re doing fine with so far.

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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