Defining “Noncommercial”: A Study of How the Online Population Understands “Noncommercial Use”


This 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.

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