When Life And Work Blend, Everything Is Commercial Use
from the welcome-to-the-way-we-live dept
I was recently having a talk with a friend who was trying to determine what to do next with his life. He’s not happy with his job and wants a “goal” for the future — but isn’t really sure what he wants to do. I suggested focusing on a hobby in the short term and devoting plenty of time to it. He felt that was the wrong approach, because a hobby is separate from a job, and the two would never connect. While that could happen, the internet today has made it increasingly easy to turn a hobby into a job in some way or another. It’s not that you need to turn a hobby into a job. Sometimes it’s good for a hobby to just be a hobby. But, if you focus on what you’re passionate about, I think eventually different job opportunities start to come to you.
But it’s this blurring of “personal” and “work” lives that again has me pondering if there really is a meaningful distinction between “commercial use” and “non-commercial use.” Some of this debate first came about years ago, when some web publishers claimed that their RSS feeds were “for non-commercial use only,” but what does that mean? If I read your site as part of my job, have I violated that rule? If I learn information from your feed that allows me to make money, have I violated that rule? More recently, there have been proposals to separate copyright violations, such that “non-commercial use” is allowed. But, again, you quickly run into very questionable scenarios. If my personal blog has Google AdSense on it, is it commercial use? If I end up getting a job because of my “personal use” of your content, does it suddenly morph into “commercial use”? The questions get more and more confusing, and the mess would make less and less sense.
These days, it seems that the distinction between personal, professional, commercial and non-commercial are becoming increasingly meaningless — and that’s not a bad thing.
With that said, I have to agree with Gordon Haff over at News.com that Creative Commons is making a mistake in trying to better define the meaning of “commercial use” for its “non-commercial” licenses. I’m already struggling with its current definition. I’m working on a presentation for a conference I’m attending next month, and found some images that are under a CC license that allows non-commercial use. I’m not getting paid for the talk itself, but I am doing it as a representative of Techdirt, which is a commercial entity. Is that commercial use? The presentation isn’t about our business, though, but about what I usually write about here. Is that non-commercial use? I’m assuming it’s non-commercial use, but these days, I have a hard time understanding what the difference is at all, and Haff is right that it’s likely to lead to more confusion. The real answer is to simplify CC licenses, not make them even more complex.