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This page presented an issue for consideration in the CC license suite 4.0 versioning process. The discussions have now concluded with the publication of the 4.0 licenses, and the information on this page is now kept as an archive of previous discussions. The primary forum for issues relating to the 4.0 versioning process was the CC license discuss email list. You may subscribe to contribute to any continuing post-launch discussions, such as those surrounding compatibility and license translation. The wiki has been populated with links to relevant email threads from the mailing list where applicable, and other topics for discussion were raised in the 4.0/Sandbox. See the 4.0 page for more about the process.

Page summary: Creative Commons is exploring compatibility with the stewards of the Free Art License and the GNU GPL v3.0. Compatibility was first introduced in version 3.0, although no licenses have yet been declared compatibile.

Draft 1 Treatment: Not directly addressed in draft 1.

Draft 2 Treatment: Discussions are underway but have not progressed to the point where specific CC provisions have been adjusted. Both FAL and GPL have been extensively reviewed, however. Where small points of convergence are easily made without substantive changes, those have been incorporated in our drafting.

FAL Compatibility

In CC's view, FAL 1.3 is a strong candidate for two-way compatibility with BY-SA 4.0. Discussions are currently underway that we hope will allow remixing between two similarly-spirited but currently separate islands of content. We are working through details of what adjustments may need to be made in order to accomplish this goal. We will be vetting those fully with our communities between now and d3. It is possible that some tweaks may needed to be made to our licenses to make that happen, affecting current drafting. In terms of operationalizing such a statement on the CC side either through a reference in the license itself or inclusion on our existing (empty) webpage [link], this is an open question that will be addressed once more progress is made. For now, d2 contains the same compatibility language as 3.0 and maintains the definition of Creative Commons Compatible License and structure.

GPL Compatibility

CC is also looking at one-way compatibility from BY and BY-SA to the GNU GPL v3.0. While the benefits may not seem immediately apparent to some given that CC is suitable for content and not software, the reality is that increasingly, people are creating works that mix content and code in ways that create uncertainty around how the licenses interact. As software becomes a greater part of artistic creation in the future, we want to be sure that people who want to release these works freely can do so without worrying about potential compatibility problems.

There are a few examples. One is 3D printing, where a creator of a functional design licensed under the GNU GPL may want to incorporate designs and art released under BY-SA. Many designs people are currently creating and remixing are being treated like software--mostly functional, with creativity tying its elements together--and licensed under a software license. But the more people are able to do with these works, the more benefit there will be in making another body of content legally accessible.

Another is interactive games and art, which generate new artistic works by using code to combine existing smaller works. Video games are code, but also art, and some blur the distinction so much that you can’t separate out the elements to treat them as a simple aggregation. Many generate new, original graphics or music based on the underlying code and the player’s actions; where they are built from BY or BY-SA licensed pieces, it may be necessary to ensure that they are compatible.

  • GPL Compatibility. CC BY does not make any specific requirements on the exact license an adaptation may be released under, but it ought be possible for a downstream licensee of an adaptation to fulfill CC BY conditions when fulfilling conditions of license adaptation offered under, ie conditions of license adaption under should be a superset of CC BY conditions. CC BY may be slightly misaligned with GPL such that latter's conditions not a strict superset of former. FSF says CC BY is not GPL compatible -- https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#ccby

Considerations regarding compatibility of other licenses (community commentary on the subject)

  • Consider addressing uncertainty regarding releasing a work (adaptation/ derivative) under a CC Compatible license
    • When I thought about CC-BY-SA 3.0 --> GFDL transition as a hypothetical case, it was not necessarily all clear how I would "follow" GFDL after creating a derivative of a CC-BY-SA'd work.
    • To address the uncertainty, consider developing a "exemplary practice guideline" that would serve as a "safe harber" - i.e. the range of practice that is considered to be "in compliance" with both licenses for the transition purposes. Practice outside of the guideline may be okay, or maybe not. Insert some language to make this safe harbor effective in 4.0. After some licenses become compatible, develop such guidelines with steward of the compatible license.

Please add other important considerations to this discussion here.

Proposals relating to compatibility in 4.0

For ease of reference on discussion lists, please do not alter proposal numbers.

Compatibility Proposal No. 1: Clarify definition of Creative Commons Compatible License. (Currently, "Creative Commons Compatible License" means a license that is listed at http://creativecommons.org/compatiblelicenses that has been approved by Creative Commons as being essentially equivalent to this License, including, at a minimum, because that license: (i) contains terms that have the same purpose, meaning and effect as the License Elements of this License; and, (ii) explicitly permits the relicensing of adaptations of works made available under that license under this License or a Creative Commons jurisdiction license with the same License Elements as this License."

  • Pros:
  • Cons: Current language is ambiguous. Does it mean (a) the compatible license must give options for a licensee to pick any of those CC licenses? Or does it mean that (b) the compatible license must give at least one of those CC licenses as an option?
  • Other comments: Better wording (though I am not a native speaker) suggestions, for (a) and (b) above, respectively, are:
      • (ii) explicitly permits the relicensing of adaptations of works made available under that license under any of the Creative Commons licenses with the same License Elements as this License, including this License.
      • (ii) explicitly permits the relicensing of adaptations of works made available under that license under at least one of the Creative Commons licenses with the same License Elements as this License, such as this License, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Australia license, or Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Japan license.
  • Treatment in 4.0 d.1: Not addressed in this initial draft; only BY-NC-SA is published for review during this first comment period. Please continue to put forth and comment on proposals for draft #2, which will likely include all six licenses.

Related debate

We encourage you to sign up for the license discussion mailing list, where we will be debating this and other 4.0 proposals. HQ will provide links to related email threads from the license discussion mailing list here.

Relevant references

Please add citations that ought inform this 4.0 issue below.