Cultural Capital by Tama Leaver

For those who have been waiting on tenterhooks, the moment has finally arrived – Creative Commons has released the findings of its survey on How the Online Population Understands Noncommercial Use.

From the press release:

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. Generous support for the study was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The study investigated understandings of noncommercial use and the Creative Commons “NC” license term through online surveys of content creators and users in the U.S., open access polls of global “Creative Commons Friends and Family,” interviews with thought leaders, and focus groups with participants from around the
world who create and use a wide variety of online content and media. The research behind Defining “Noncommercial” was conducted by Netpop Research, under advisement from academics and a working group consisting of several Creative Commons jurisdiction project members as well as Creative Commons staff and board members.

Some of the more interesting findings from the study are:

* everyone seems to agree that uses where people make money or that involve advertising are commercial, while “personal and private” uses are noncommercial;
* other than that there isn’t one clear definition of noncommercial, with most people making judgment calls based on the details of the use in question;
* in most circumstances, there isn’t much difference between how creators and users see commercial use; however, the people most likely to be using Creative Commons licences (ie Creative Commons Friends and Family) do seem to use a broader definition of noncommercial than others; and
* perhaps most importantly, most people are comfortable with the current CC definition of noncommercial, although there were some suggestions for improvement.

The report is, of course, published under a CC Attribution licence, with the data from the surveys published under a CC0 public domain waiver. So, as CC points out in its announcement, the report on “noncommercial” may unambiguously be used for commercial purposes.

You can find links to the full text of the report, as well as the press release and background information, in the main CC blog post.