Creative Commons licenses under scrutiny—what does “noncommercial” mean?

7 02 2017
By all accounts, Great Minds is an educational stalwart that has developed K-12 curriculum used by schools across the US. The materials developed from the Washington, DC-based nonprofit hold US copyrights but are made publicly available under a Creative Commons (CC) license, which theoretically allows them to be freely shared and reproduced for noncommercial uses as long as the original source is credited. That CC license is known as BY-NC-SA 4.0.

But it seems that Great Minds can’t make up its mind on whether it truly wants its materials to be a part of free culture. Or, in the alternative, it’s reading the CC license a little too literally. That’s because it’s suing Federal Express, claiming the Texas-based delivery and copying company is reproducing its materials for teachers and schools without paying royalties to Great Minds. The educational company says that because FedEx is making a profit from reproducing the materials, it’s violating the CC license. That’s according to a federal lawsuit (PDF) the company has lodged against FedEx.


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