[cc-licenses] Request for feedback: compatibility with BY-NC-SA?

Kat Walsh kat at creativecommons.org
Tue Feb 26 14:47:45 EST 2013

We have three issues regarding compatibility to bring up in this
discussion period. These don't have to do with which specific licenses
may be recognized as compatible, which will be a separate discussion,
but rather for the mechanism itself: the way the ShareAlike and
non-ShareAlike licenses enable compatibility to begin with. The first
issue is this, perhaps the most straightforward of them: whether to
enable compatibility with BY-NC-SA. The next two will follow in
separate posts: clarification of compatibility with BY and BY-NC, and
whether to allow for the possibility of enabling one-way compatibility
from BY-SA to other licenses via the Creative Commons Compatible
License mechanism.

Since Version 3.0, the Creative Commons BY-SA license has included a
mechanism for recognizing Compatible Licenses, ones that would
function as the equivalent of BY-SA for the purpose of licensing an
adapter's contributions to an adaptation. However, no such mechanism
previously appeared in BY-NC-SA. We have included it this time in
draft 3. [1]

This is not a matter that has had great practical implications: we
don't currently know of any license with terms similar enough to
BY-NC-SA that CC would want to recognize it as compatible. However, we
recognize that one may exist that we don't know of, or that some may
exist in the future.

We are hesitant to include such a mechanism if it could encourage
others to write incompatible licenses with the intent of seeking
compatibility with BY-NC-SA--though if such a license were to be
written and get substantial adoption, it would be desirable for those
works to be compatibly-licensed with the works under BY-NC-SA.

However, it seems more likely to us that including the compatibility
mechanism in the BY-NC-SA license would have no such effect: it is
unlikely that any such license would be created and have any
significant number of works licensed under it, regardless of whether
the mechanism was included in BY-NC-SA.

On balance, we think including it is the right decision. One of the
primary goals for us in the 4.0 process has been enabling greater
interoperability and compatibility with other works in the commons
(http://wiki.creativecommons.org/4.0#Goals_and_objectives), and we
think that in light of that goal, it is important to include things
like a compatibility mechanism for BY-NC-SA even if it ends up unused.

However, we are open to arguments otherwise, and we'd like to hear
your thoughts.


[1] (It does not appear in BY or BY-NC either, but it doesn't need to:
a license may be compatible with these licenses without CC explicitly
recognizing it. Share-Alike, however, depends on the license steward
to determine what is "alike".)

Kat Walsh, Counsel, Creative Commons
IM/IRC/@/etc: mindspillage * phone: please email first
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CC does not and cannot give legal advice. If you need legal advice,
please consult your attorney.

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