Creative Commons NonCommercial content – limits on income possibilities?
We're building a website that allows users to find fun things to do and, among other things, to read articles about some of these things, but also to write their own. In order to have some of these articles available when we launch, we managed to find and import a large database of similar-themed articles, many of which are well-suited for our website and are licensed under a Creative Commons license (to be specific, under BY-NC-SA). These articles wouldn't be the primary feature of our website, just an added value for our users. Our website could therefore work even if we abandon the whole articles idea. While our website initially won't be generating any revenue, we're hoping to at some point adopt a business model and make it sustainable, at the very least. What limits would the NonCommercial part impose on us in this case? Which of the following would this CC content affect? Generating revenue through Google AdSense Generating revenue through some other paid ads Generating revenue through paid ads, but keeping the article pages that are under the BY-NC-SA ad-free Having a category of paid users who would be able to have some additional features (but with the articles part available to both free and paid users)
Without creating an Atty/Client relationship or addressing your specific issue except in a hypothetical way, it is my opinion that you would need to seek specific permission (a license agreement to protect your interests) to use these articles you refer to, pursuant to the language of the NC agreement(s),as it currently disallows your use in your clearly somewhat commercial model. The language that you are “unclear” about, is pertaining to reuse in a non-commercial (non-revenue based) manner…like if you print a informative (free) pamphlet w/the information you accessed through the similarly themed NC database. You may ( I personally doubt it but anything is possible )be able to obtain the permissions, but regardless, it could not be considered non-commercial since you intend to make a profit (or at lease a self-sustaining amount of operating cost), and the entire point of the NC license is to prevent payment for access to information.
The reason I say you may be able to get a license is that if you are not charging a membership fee, but are using the information (articles) in a commercial endeavor, it is possible that the similar site does this as well, and you could come up with a reimbursement model based on percentile averages and clicks per article that originated from the other site. The reason I doubt it is that if they also get revenue from sources other than consumers of the information, it would seem you’d be in direct competition.
(Since this is looking rather close to looking for legal advice: “I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, don’t sue my pants off”.)
The relevant section of the license is this (bolding mine):
You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in con-nection with the exchange of copyrighted works.
Therefore, if you are using the content licensed under the BY-NC-SA primarily to make money, that is a breach of the license. Any more advice past that is wading seriously into legal advice.
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