Non-Commercial Use Restriction Removed From This Blog

Posts and comments published on this blog have been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (CC BY-NC-SA). I have used this licence since Creative Commons became accepted in UK legislation, initially for deliverables provided by the JISC-funded QA Focus project. As described in a paper on “Let’s Free IT Support Materials!” presented at the EUNIS 2005 Conference:

The decision to make QA Focus briefing papers available under a Creative Commons licence was made as part of the project’s exit strategy. The project deliverables will be available for at least three years after the end of funding, as required by the funders. However we were concerned that a passive approach would not be effective in maximising the project’s impact across the community and that the approach advocated and lessons learnt could be forgotten or ignored. There was also a concern that the project’s deliverables would become invalid or inaccurate over time, as a result of technological, legal, etc. changes. To ensure the deliverables continued to promote good practice in the long-term, a policy was developed to allow free use and modification of briefing papers.

The BY-NC-SA licence was chosen as it seemed at the time to provide a safe option, allowing the resources to be reused by others in the sector whilst retaining the right to commercially exploit the resources.In reality, however, the resources haven’t been exploited commercially and increasingly the sector is becoming aware of the difficulties in licensing resources which excludes commercial use, as described by Peter Murray-Rust in a recent post on “Why I and you should avoid NC licence“.

CC BY-SA licenceI have therefore decided that from 1 January 2011 posts and comments published on this blog will be licenced with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (CC BY-SA).

Note that version 2.0 of the licence is being used, as this is the latest version which has been ported for use under UK legislation.

Also note that the licence applies to the text of blog posts – other objects published on the blog, such as screen images, video clips, etc. will not normally be covered by this licence.


  1. Good for you, Brian. About time!

  2. I use the NC clause in all my work, and my motivation, rather than the straw man argument typically presented by pro-commercialization arguments, is very pragmatic: I do not want people to restrict access to my work.

    The point here is, when people ‘commercialize’ content, such as my writing, what they are doing is making money by charging for access to the work. This means that, if someone does not pay them money, they will deny that person access to the work. This is wrong. This is not what is meant by ‘free’.

  3. About time, Brian! 😉 But why retain the SA restriction?

    And Stephen, a ‘commercial’ use of your content might not CHARGE for access to it. I, for one, would be cautious about using an NC image in a presentation at a fee-charging conference, for example. You’re placing an obstacle in front of use and attributed dissemination of your work. I’m not trying to profit from it; I am trying to SPREAD it!

    And even if some third party were to consider reselling your content, they MUST attribute the source, where your original remains accessible without charge.

  4. > I, for one, would be cautious about using an NC image in a presentation at a fee-charging conference, for example.

    If you refuse to allow people to access the resource unless they pay you money, you’re charging for the resource.

    If, on the other hand, you have a fee-based conference, and at the same ti e offer access to a resource for everyone, not just fee-paying people, then you are not charging, and it’s a non-commercial use.

    It;s a simple distinction, and the only people who have a problem with it are those who want to make money by preventing access to the work.

    > they MUST attribute the source, where your original remains accessible without charge.

    They must attribute it to the author, which they can do by saying ‘by Stephen Downes’. If they’re nice, they’ll provide the URL — but, of course, you won’t know what the URL is until you’ve *already* paid for access. And this, meanwhile, all depends on me having enough money to provide access on my web site,.

  5. I wondered if you had dropped the NC restriction so that your content could be used in the new world of UK universities :-)

    Although, actually… I have never understood why use by UK universities hasn’t been considered ‘commercial’?

  6. Hi Andy
    The change wasn’t made as a direct result of UK Government changes for funding higher education. However there has been a view that public sector funding shouldn’t be used for commercial purposes. However there have been recent suggestions, from those working in the sector, that the UK higher education sector should be (could be) influential in stimulating the UK’s economy. One way of doing this is to encourage the commercial sector to exploit ideas and content produced within thew sector. Although I don’t expect this blog to do this, I am wishing to send a signal that this is a laudable goal. I should also add that this isn’t meant to be taken as support for the government’s cuts – my support for Creative Commons dates back to its launch, which happened under a previous government and political and economic environment.

    I also that although universities may be not-for-profit organisations they are commercial entities. Avoiding the NC clause is useful in removing ambiguities.



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