on non-commercial licenses

From an essay by Erik Moeller on the Creative Commons Non-commercial license:

Any market built around content which is available for free must either rely on goodwill or ignorance.

The potential to benefit financially from mere distribution is therefore quite small. Where it exists due to a predominance of old media, it is likely to disappear rapidly. The people who are likely to be hurt by an -NC license are not large corporations, but small publications like weblogs, advertising-funded radio stations, or local newspapers.

Indeed, to make a substantial profit with your work, a company will have to provide added value beyond what is available for free.

2 thoughts on “on non-commercial licenses

  1. The problem is that there’s no variant of the CC license that says, “you’re free to make a little bit of money on this work, but you have to cut me in if you make it big.”

    Making music well is very expensive. I may not have to spend on creating an album what I had to 20 years ago: but the electric guitars, the amplifiers, the microphones, the MIDI controller, the software, even my time – it still comes at a fairly steep price.

    I’ve put out a few songs CC-A, but I’ve also held a few back. Frankly, if there’s money to be made with some of those, I’ve earned the right – through my own costs – to draw a cut on that. I might even, if specifically asked, make a deal with a small entrepreneur. I’ve done that before as well.

    But I’d like to buy a new Telecaster. My Les Paul needs new pickups. Unfortunately, neither Gibson or Fender offer me CC-A on guitars. :-(

    1. Admiral Bob, I appreciate your points, but I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. What makes you think that an NC license earns you more money than a share-alike license? The argument against NC isn’t that you don’t want to make money on your music, but that NC is ineffective at earning you money.

      Not that I don’t get how expensive it is to make music well. You need a lot of your own time, additional players, good equipment etc. Your time has an opportunity cost. Good players often need to get paid. Recording gear and instruments are crazy expensive. Yeah, no doubt, I get it.

      Saying “you’re free to make a little bit of money on this work, but you have to cut me in if you make it big” is not a great economic formula. What you really want is to maximize profits. Whether other people make a lot or little makes no difference to you. All you want is to make as much as possible.

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