I recently changed the Creative Commons license on this blog from Attribution-Non Commercial to Attribution, for a number of reasons.

My reasons are all related to a general point of view about commerce, one that is highly unoriginal (having, famously, been well articulated by Adam Smith in 1776) but powerful nonetheless. The profit motive often leads to great things, and also to good small things. It’s useful to have people out there trying to make money, especially if they are trying to make money by creating works of value, rather than by defending business models and manipulating legislatures to preserve monopolies or squelch competition. As I cannot imagine anything that I write on this blog providing the key to anyone’s predatory monopolies, the remote possibility that what I write could be used in a way that would generate monetary value carries with it the associated possibility that it will be of social or personal value to a user or a reader. The more use the better, and the more that people are looking for customers and users, the better.

I also have a more political motive. I have been known to criticize the behavior of publishers from time to time, but I would not want it thought that I am generally opposed to commerce, or commercialization, and I fear that some people involved in commerce see the “Non Commercial” license as synonymous with “anti-commerce.” It’s okay with me if someone makes some money from my work, even when I don’t. And if the new use is clever or innovative, that’s even better.

The second reason, also closely related, has to do with my attitude towards copyright law. If you believe, as I do, that the purpose of copyright is to “Promote the progress of science and the useful arts”, then it is more important that the work be out in the world being read, and contributing to a larger discourse, than that strangers not be able to make money from it. One maximizes the influence of the work by maximizing potential uses of the work, recognizing that commercial uses have just as much power to promote progress as non-commercial uses, and recognizing that the constitutional basis of copyright — authorizing Congress to grant monopolies for a limited period — contemplated such uses from the get go. (Of course, the limited period has become a bad joke.)

I should point out that under this strategy – the maximizing influence strategy – one would never sign away exclusive rights to one’s own work, because exclusive rights drastically limit the potential distribution channels, and the potential impact.

So, if anyone can make money from this posting, have at it!