[cc-licenses] Most important feature: GPL-compatibility

Gunnar Wolf gwolf at gwolf.org
Tue Jan 24 12:35:43 EST 2012

Rob Myers dijo [Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 11:10:44PM +0000]:
> > It's very difficult (and futile, I'd say) to argue if CC-BY-SA or GPL
> > have the strongest copyleft mechanisms. They are meant for different
> > purposes. But yes, I'll try to keep arguing to keep them legally
> > combinable.
> They are currently incompatible *in the sense used by the GPL* as both
> are copyleft licenses and therefore require that derivative works /
> adaptations be placed under exactly the same licence.
> BY is also regarded as incompatible with the GPL by the FSF:
> https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#ccby
> although I'm not sure why. I assume it's because the degree of
> attribution required is regarded as burdensome, like the original BSD
> license.

Right. As you said, "in the sense used by the GPL". A GPL-licensed
work cannot be taken to become a CC-BY-SA, and a CC-BY-SA-licensed
work cannot be taken to become GPL. That's a bidirectional
incompatibility. However, a project *containing a majority of GPL
files* does not have any problem by *including some CC files*. Yes, if
the files are linked together and redistributed as single binary
objects, there are some legal issues — And it would be great to be
able to solve them, but both licenses are strong enough in their
requirements for this to be IMO impossible.

I think the only feasible way out for this discussion is to make sure
GPL software authors *understand* they must compile their code in a
way it does not link in CC-licensed content. And yes, that would throw
the ball (i.e. place the burden on educating people) to the FSF - As
most CC producers are not software developers. The burden of ensuring
they package things in a legal way should be on the "combiners" - On
the software developers.

Trying to shoehorn CC-BY-SA into what they call GPL compatibility is a
pipe dream. To do so, CC-BY-SA would have to have an identical set of
constraints to that of the GPL, while the nature of the works each
license tries to cover is quite different.
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