Just over a year ago, in September 2009, Creative Commons published the lengthy Defining “Noncommercial”: A Study of How the Online Population Understands “Noncommercial Use” (PDF, creativecommons.org), which I have only just begun to read.
I’ve always wondered what qualifies as “commercial use” when it comes to Creative Commons music. The pressing concern for netlabels, which often release music under the Creative Commons license, is: Does having a blog about music, and streaming or providing download links to non-commercial-use CC music, count as “commercial” if the blog features advertising? How about podcasts, or radio shows, that also have advertising? There are currently no ads on Disquiet.com, so it’s a moot point here, from a practical perspective. (This site is licensed by CC “permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.”)
But from a philosophical perspective, it’s a pressing concern. The reason: An apparent decision by the CBC to not use CC music on its podcasts has brought the issue to the fore. There’s good coverage and comment-discussion at michaelgeist.ca, techdirt.com, and createdigitalmusic.com.
An overview of the September 2009 Defining “Noncommercial” survey, in the form of a press release (creativecommons.org), provides some initial insight, stating that websites on which advertising is in the realm of “cost recovery” (“to cover hosting costs”), as well as “use by not-for-profits,” is not viewed as “commercial” as much as are more clearly for-profit uses.
The forums at Creative Commons appear to be underutilized (forum.creativecommons.org), and as of this writing there’s no mention of the CBC issue at twitter.com/creativecommons either, so let’s look forward to a formal response from the organization.