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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: "Jessica Coates" <j2.coates AT>
  • To: <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: Re: [cc-licenses] If a middleman gives or sells a "by" licensed image...
  • Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 11:34:40 +1000

Hi all


We had a long discussion with Mia last year about the licensing of derivative works, and the conclusion that we came to is that derivative works can be licensed under any licence that is more restrictive than the original work, but not under more permissive licences.


So where the original material is under a BY licence, the derivative work can be licensed under a BY-NC or BY-SA licence, or under a non-CC licence that includes the attribution requirement (and the other BY restrictions) - but not under a licence that doesn't require attribution (eg the CC Public Domain).


The logic for this is that a derivative work must incorporate recognisable elements of the original work (otherwise it isn't a derivative work - it's an original work in its own right). The person creating the derivative work cannot pass on those recognisable elements under a more permissive licence than he himself received them under, because he can't grant rights he doesn't have.


A person would only be able to licence a derivative work under a more permissive licence if the CC licence explicitly said they could (eg 'You can licence derivative works under any licence you want) - which they don't.


This accords with the table on the CC FAQ wiki - - which is a fairly good place to check whether your re-licensing of a CC work is ok. The only problem with the table is that it’s got an error in the BY-ND row – you can’t pass on BY-ND under BY-NC-ND.



  • Re: [cc-licenses] If a middleman gives or sells a "by" licensed image..., Jessica Coates, 09/17/2007

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