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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.

There are roughly three issues that have been discussed for years that could potentially be addressed. Ideally, addressing one or more of these could increase clarity of relevant CC licenses, and increase range of and differentiation within CC license suite.

ShareAlike scope

Effectively, this has been treated as identical to potentially tweaking the definition of adaptations vs collections.

  • Version 2.0 added "For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is a musical composition or sound recording, the synchronization of the Work in timed-relation with a moving image ("synching") will be considered a Derivative Work for the purpose of this License." (Please discuss this particular clarifying language on the License subject matter page.)
  • Many have wanted something similar added clarifying when use of an image creates an adaptation/derivative. This was visited especially during discussions with the Wikimedia community, leading to no immediate change, but an assurance that the scope of BY-SA's copyleft would only be increased, if changed at all in the 3rd point of CC Attribution-ShareAlike Intent

Relatedly, it has also been pointed out that CC license definitions of work/adaptation/collection are somewhat hard to read.

Proposals relating to SA scope in 4.0

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

SA Proposal No. 1: Make no changes.

  • Pros:
  • Cons: Does not allow the creation to evolve. It is not made clear how to incorporate SA materials into otherwise licensed works.
  • Other comments: There is already a 'no derivatives' option. The concept of derivation could be made more clear with examples such as "remix, translate, integrate, aggregate, etc."

SA Proposal No. 2: Make work/adaptation/collection definitions easier to read, but strive to not make any effective change.

  • Pros: Will clarify terminology.
  • Cons: New observations based on experience with current CC licenses may bot be taken into account.
  • Other comments: Explain that the Share Alike clause discourages exploitave commercial uses while still allowing commerce in the commons and OER landscape.

SA Proposal No. 3: Expand scope of adaptation (thus SA) specifically for some class of use of images, analogous to synching added in 2.0.

  • Pros:
  • Cons:
  • Other comments: Also allow certain exceptions such as mixing CC-by-SA with GPL or similarly spirited licenses.

SA Proposal No. 4: A more aggressive expansion of SA, including some collections, except those that are mere aggregations (see GPL).

  • Pros:
  • Cons:
  • Other comments:

SA Proposal No. 5: Share the wealth clause, requesting that commercial gain (e.g. profits) be shared back to the original creator(s).

  • Pros: gives financial incentive to release assets under Free Culture Certified licenses. Reduces concern about commercial (ab)uses of creative works.
  • Cons:
    • May be hard to figure out proportional income distribution. Perhaps a general guideline could ease this process.
    • Introduces some of the issues raised by the NC term - namely, confusion over what is commercial use ('profits' are mentioned in this proposal) and could be a disincentive to share and remix works where otherwise allowed. NC is often adopted out of a (perhaps largely misguided because SA addresses it) concern for commercial exploitation. If 'share the wealth' becomes a new trend ('Yeah, of course I want to choose the option to receive money from others who use my work!') it may heavily reduce the cultural value of any works under that license.
  • Other comments:
    • Create a table of fair share profit distribution (perhaps percentage based) to guide the reciprocative process.
    • Difficult to determine how to share profits. May need a public directory of CC licensors and their payment details. Perhaps link this in with profile pages on the CC site, creating an incentive to register your works here. (However, my understanding is that this costs the user a (albeit minimal) yearly fee, reducing access to this service.)

Please add other SA proposals here, and number them sequentially.

Source-requiring SA

(Note that scope and whether source required are independent of each other.)

Some would like a copyleft for creative works that requires not just sharing adaptations under the same license, but making preferred form for modification available, as the GPL does for software. FDL includes a weaker requirement of providing copies in "transparent" formats. Especially the former may be too far for BY-SA to go (but costs/benefits could be listed to see). Could possibly be addressed via compatibility, see next.

Compatibility with other copyleft licenses

Directly related to the interoperability goal of 4.0. The following licenses have been discussed at various points, regarding compatibility with BY-SA:

Some things to consider in 4.0 process:

  • What could be done to bring BY-SA into better alignment technically with these other licenses where they are in the same spirit?
  • Should explicit compatibility with any of these be aimed for? In theory this could be a post-4.0 discussion assuming compatible licenses hook remains, but in practice, if compatibility is to be possible, 4.0 changes should be considered in that light
  • Discuss with stewards of each of above licenses, with regard to BY-SA 4.0, future versions of their licenses, alignment, and explicit compatibility statements
  • Similar to above, discuss with other stewards possibility of agreeing on/promoting common license text

Considerations regarding compatibility of other licenses

  • 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.
  • 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 downstream licensee of 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

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.

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.