In a French newspaper from Sunday the 27th of August La voix du Nord, a picture from xkcd is reproduced in an article on page 39.

Not only the author is not quoted, which is an obvious violation of the BY clause. But I wonder if the NC clause is respected or violated in this case.

The news paper is not free of charge. Is it a commercial activity to publish something in an article? Are news papers exempt of the non-commercial clause of CreativeCommons?

  • What is your question exactly beyond the title? Aug 27, 2017 at 15:02
  • @PhilippeOmbredanne Are newspaper considered a commercial activity and thus concerned by the NC clause of CC?
    – Kii
    Aug 27, 2017 at 15:22
  • 3
    The NC clause is quite broad and ultimately the copyright holder determines what "non-commercial" means for them. Aug 27, 2017 at 18:53
  • I'm guessing there isn't an online link to the article since the newspaper requires a paid subscription? This question is very interesting to me since it relates to xkcd and open source licenses. In my opinion, this question straddles the line between the law.stackexchange.com site and this open source stack exchange site. Since the question does relate an incident to a specific open source license, I'm fine with leaving the question here.
    – airfishey
    Aug 28, 2017 at 13:50
  • 2
    @airfishey : I updated the link from the newspaper. Be careful because online reading is limited with 5 reads a month. Also, I updated the link from xkcd to point to the concerned article.
    – Kii
    Aug 28, 2017 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


The article you reference obviously is lacking proper crediting at the minimum. You should contact them so they can fix this alright. You should aslo alert them that they may need a proper authorization (which they may have already) from xkcd for a commercial usage

  • I would even say the author of the article here is directly responsible (as the article clearly references the illustration, it wasn't added later by an editor of the newspaper). Given that the author is an academic, this is also a clear violation of basic academic rules (i.e. proper citations).
    – Zimm i48
    Aug 30, 2017 at 12:35
  • 1
    @Zimmi48: “academic rules” apply to academic writing, not to all writing by academics. An academic writing general-audience journalism should primarily follow the ethical standards and conventions of journalism, not of academic writing. That said, basic journalistic standards would certainly include giving obtaining permission and giving appropriate credit here. Aug 30, 2017 at 15:21
  • @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine what I meant is that this kind of failure to give credit is even more shocking coming from an academic, who should know how important this is.
    – Zimm i48
    Aug 30, 2017 at 15:23
  • I tried to contact them withTweeter and also sent them an e-mail with no success nor answer...
    – Kii
    Aug 31, 2017 at 11:46

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