[cc-licenses] Unbundling the GPL
hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Fri Apr 27 16:07:55 EDT 2007
Björn Terelius wrote:
> On 4/27/07, Terry Hancock <hancock at anansispaceworks.com> wrote:
> There is an entry in the FAQ concerning using CC for software.
Okay. Fair point.
It'd be a lot better not to have this conversation on the mailing list
every time somebody gets this bright idea. So let's propose altered text
that makes the key points of this thread clear:
Can I use a Creative Commons license for software?
Creative Commons licenses are not intended to apply to software. They
should not be used for software. We strongly encourage you to use one of
the very good software licenses available today. The licenses made
available by the Free Software Foundation or listed at the Open Source
Initiative should be considered by you if you are licensing software or
software documentation. Unlike our licenses -- which do not make mention
of source or object code -- these existing licenses were designed
specifically for use with software.
Creative Commons has “wrapped” some free software/open source licenses
with its Commons Deed and metadata if you wish to use these licenses and
still take advantage of the Creative Commons human-readable code and
Creative Commons customized search engine technology. You can find more
For binary-only distribution of non-free, closed-source software
("freeware", "shareware", or "proprietary software"), the "No
Derivatives" (ND) or "Non-Commercial" (NC) license variants may be usable.
However, such software is neither "free software" nor "open source", and
will not be distributable through the same channels. Furthermore, there
are very few cases in which such distribution is desireable to begin
with, as "freeware" and "shareware" business models have not proven
themselves very effective compared with the success of the free-licensed
open-source software movement, so we specifically recommend against this
Under no circumstances should the "ShareAlike" (SA) licenses be used for
distributing free-licensed open source software, because the lack of any
requirement on source-code publication creates a critical hole in the
copyleft protection for free software. Furthermore, all of the CC
licenses prevent the distribution of binaries in TPM or DRM form, which
may be problematic for porting the software to certain platforms, and is
rejected by a number of free software distribution channels.
Attribution-only licenses might be used as a non-copyleft software
license, with the principle problems being the TPM/DRM issue (which has
been objected to by some free software distributors, such as Debian
GNU/Linux), and potential burdens of the attribution clause being
applied to software works. More importantly, there are a variety of much
better non-copyleft free licenses for this purpose.
(to be placed on
Not that I DO NOT want to change the first paragraph, which should still
say that CC licenses are not designed for and should not be used for
software. This statement is accurate as-is. The nuance of the later
paragraphs qualifies this point, it does not replace it. This way, the
casual reader is still unlikely to misunderstand the key point, but a
careful reader can get the information that we have been hammering about
on list for the last couple of days.
I just created a wiki account, BTW. Are there objections to such a
change? Should I add this?
Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
More information about the cc-licenses