ShareAlike compatibility analysis: FAL

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The Free Art License (FAL) was published by Copyleft Attitude in 2000. The most recent version - version 1.3 - was published in 2007. The FAL is a copyright license with a ShareAlike mechanism and an attribution mechanism, and it does not violate the definition of Free Cultural Licenses. Thus, it satisfies the minimum criteria for compatibility set forth in our ShareAlike compatibility criteria. Overall, the FAL and BY-SA 4.0 are similar licenses, and the effect of each license as applied to a creative work is largely the same. Inevitably, there are differences between the two licenses, which are explained in more detail below.

Summary of comparison: FAL 1.3[1] and BY-SA 4.0

  • The tone and scope of the licenses differ. The FAL is written more broadly and in general terms, and is designed for use with creative works protected by copyright. BY-SA is written in more specific terms, and is designed for use with creative works as well as material restricted by other rights closely related to copyright, such as databases protected by a sui generis right. Although the FAL licenses only copyright, it does have a provision preventing licensors from using related rights to prevent exercise of the rights granted under the license. BY-SA, on the other hand, contains an open ended definition of the rights that are licensed, but expressly excludes certain types of rights from the reach of the license.[2] As to those rights that are licensed, BY-SA requires compliance with its conditions (attribution, ShareAlike) even when those rights, and not copyright, are implicated.
  • The specific attribution and marking requirements in the two licenses vary slightly. BY-SA has more total necessary elements for proper attribution, though it allows for flexibility depending on the context in which the work is used. Despite having fewer total attribution and marking requirements, the FAL does have some requirements that are not included in BY-SA, such as indicating where the licensed content can be found or how the licensed content was modified.
  • The FAL does not expressly address the application of digital rights management (DRM) or other effective technological measures to the licensed content by licensees, while BY-SA explicitly prohibits it. The FAL does, however, prohibit anything that has the effect of preventing others from exercising the freedoms granted by the license, which implicitly includes DRM.
  • Both licenses terminate automatically upon breach, but BY-SA is reinstated automatically if the breach is cured within 30 days of discovery. The FAL does not have an automatic reinstatement mechanism.
  • The FAL gives licensees the option to comply with a later version of the FAL, regardless of whether the work has been adapted. BY-SA allows licensees to comply with the conditions of future versions of BY-SA, but only if such version was applied to an adaptation of the work.
Features BY-SA 4.0 FAL
License scope Copyright, neighboring rights and sui generis database rights (SGDRs) (Sec 1d) Copyright only, but related rights may not challenge rights granted by license (Secs 2, 3)
Attribution trigger If there is applicable copyright in work, then when work or adaptation of work is shared. (Sec 3a)

If there are applicable SGDRs in work, then when all or a substantial portion of database contents is shared. (Sec 4c)

When work (modified or not) is distributed (Sec 2.2)
Attribution removal clause Yes (Sec 3a3) No
Attribution elements
  1. creator and attribution parties
  2. copyright notice
  3. license notice
  4. disclaimer notice
  5. URI or link to the licensed material
  6. indicate and link to license

(Sec 3a1)

  1. name of author(s),
  2. attach license to work or indicate where license can be found
  3. info on where to access the originals

(Sec 2.2)

Special marking requirement if work is modified Yes (indicate if you modified and retain indication of previous modifications) (Sec 3a1B) Yes (indicate if you modified and what type of modifications were made) (Sec 2.3)
ShareAlike trigger When adaptation is shared (Sec 3b) When you distribute an adaptation (Sec 2.3)
ShareAlike scope Must ShareAlike contributions to adaptations (Sec 3b);

Must ShareAlike database if it incorporates substantial portion of database contents (Sec 4b)

Must ShareAlike contributions to adaptations (Sec 2.3)

Must ShareAlike larger work if incorporate original in a way that makes it no longer accessible apart from larger work (Sec 4)

Source requirement None None
Effective technological measures May not be applied by licensees if they restrict access to the work or adaptations (Sec 2a5C)

Licensees have express permission to circumvent if applied by licensor (Sec 2a4)

Not expressly mentioned, but may not be applied by licensees if they restrict users freedoms to copy (2.1), to distribute (2.2.) or to modify (2.3) the work
Moral rights Waived only to the extent necessary to allow the license to function. (Sec 2b1) Author’s rights may not challenge the rights granted by license. (Sec 3)
Termination Automatic upon breach (Sec 6a) Automatic upon breach (Sec 8)
Reinstatement after termination Requires express permission unless cured within 30 days of discovery of violation (Sec 6b) None
Reps & warranties Expressly disclaimed (Sec 5) Not mentioned
Choice of law None None
Option to comply with other license versions Yes, but limited. Licensees may choose to comply with a later version of BY-SA if such version is applied to an adaptation of the work.

(Secs 2a5B, 3b1)

Yes, licensees may choose to comply with the version of the FAL that was applied to the copy distributed to them or a later version. (Sec 9)


  1. Note that CC reviewed the English language version of the FAL 1.3 to conduct this analysis.
  2. The rights expressly excluded from the license are moral rights, publicity, privacy and personality rights, and patent and trademark rights. The licensor waives and/or cannot assert all of these rights except patent and trademark rights.