Interoperability between Creative Commons licenses and GFDL

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UPDATE: Relicensing is now possible:

Wikimedia and GFDL 1.3 copyrighteous Mon, 10 Nov 2008

More detail at:

We are very grateful to the Free Software Foundation for working with us to develop this re-licensing language.

The only change is the addition of section 11, "Relicensing". This section permits "massive multi-author collaboration websites" (i.e. wikis and wiki-like websites) to relicense GFDL content to the CC-BY-SA, under two key constraints:

  • Newly added externally originating GFDL content cannot be relicensed

after November 1, 2008. (In other words, we should stop importing GFDL content from non-Wikimedia sources, unless they plan to switch as well...)

  • The relicensing clause will expire on August 1, 2009.

Relicensing can only be done by the operator of such a website, not by any other party...

  • As a heads up, communities should be more careful with importing

external FDL content, unless they know for sure that it will be migrated to CC-BY-SA in the near future.

Interoperability between CC-by-sa and GFDL has been requested by the Wikimedia Foundation board, which in late November 2007 passed a resolution:

The Foundation requests that the GNU Free Documentation License be modified in the fashion proposed by the FSF to allow migration by mass collaborative projects to the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license. -- Progress on license interoperability with Wikipedia, Mike Linksvayer, Creative Commons blog, December 1st, 2007.

Latest news

The Wikimedia Foundation:

will present a proposal for dual-licensing all Wikimedia projects currently using the GFDL, by January 15, 2009. It will be published on the foundation-l mailing list. This proposal will be discussed and revised through open community discussion, leading to an open vote among all active Wikimedia contributors (to be defined using similar criteria as the Board elections). If a majority of community members favor migration to CC-BY-SA, it will be implemented. -- Licensing update/Questions and Answers at Meta.

See also the Creative Commons blog post, Wikipedia licensing Q&A posted, 15 Dec 2008.

Also watch for updates at Licensing update at Meta.


CC-by is one-way-compatible with GFDL - meaning that CC-by content can be used in GFDL work, by not vice-versa.

Source: James Grimmelmann, Associate Professor at New York Law School, (Institute for Information Law and Policy). ([cc-licenses] CC-BY=>CC-BY-SA/GFDL, Apr 19, 2007.)

See also [Wikinews-l] The Wikinews Licensure Poll is closed, Sep 2005.

Non-commercial licenses

No NC (Non-commercial) license can ever be compatible with GFDL.