[cc-licenses] input requested: BY-SA/GPL compatibility - license scope

Andrew Rens andrewrens at gmail.com
Mon Feb 23 16:38:04 EST 2015

On 23 February 2015 at 15:33, Arne Babenhauserheide <arne_bab at web.de> wrote:

> Am Montag, 23. Februar 2015, 06:15:19 schrieb Sarah Pearson:
> > Does the unlikely but serious risk of patent problems for
> > downstream users outweigh the benefits of compatibility? Can we do enough
> > to alleviate this risk with proper education for reusers?
> I think the easiest step would be to explicitly forbid using a CC
> by-sa file under GPL, if that would require patent rights which the
> reuser cannot grant. You can only use a CC by-sa work under GPL if you
> are able to comply with the GPL.

But how would this be implemented?

> This might still create some walled gardens, but better a walled
> garden (which can be opened by granting the patent rights to the
> community) than legal uncertainty.

But legal uncertainty remains.

In jurisdictions that grant software patents any number of people could
obtain patents that would prevent the use of the GPLed work, and they would
remain able to use those patents to prevent the use of the GPLed work
regardless of the GPL patent grant. If the licensor of the CC By SA work
holds  a patent prohibiting then she would be able to use it to prevent the
use of the GPL work if the CC By SA work is not included in the GPLed work.

Only if the patent prevents use of the CC By SA work itself - or its use in
a computer program will the one compatibility matter to the risk
assessment. And no one has yet given an example of such a case.

By contrast software vendors have actually tried using software licensing
terms to get people to use software and then later demanded patent

> I think that this edge case should be clear enough, since you normally
> aren’t allowed to use some work at all when you don’t hold the
> required patents.

It is not possible to know if a copyright work infringes a patent - patent
searches are prohibitively expensive and are intended to find out if your
patent application will be regarded as original they are not a guarantee
that a patent holder will not claim infringement.

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