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  • From: Joshua Gay <jgay AT>
  • To: cc-licenses AT
  • Subject: Re: [cc-licenses] input requested: GPL/BY-SA compatibility - source
  • Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2015 17:31:22 -0500

On 02/05/2015 11:32 AM, Sarah Pearson wrote:
> On the GPL side, those who adapt BY-SA works and choose to license their
> contributions under the GPL would, however, still have to comply with
> the GPL obligation to distribute or make available the work in the
> preferred form for making modifications. If a particular adapter cannot
> do this because she never received modifiable format from the BY-SA
> licensor and/or cannot convert the content to modifiable format, then
> that person would not be able to take advantage of the one-way
> compatibility declaration and use the GPL. This is our understanding of
> how one-way compatibility will operate from the GPL side of the
> equation, though it is ultimately a matter for FSF to opine on formally
> as GPL's steward.

This is also our interpretation. In our GPL FAQ we write, "You can apply
the GPL to any kind of work, as long as it is clear what constitutes the
'source code' for the work."

> Assuming this is the right interpretation, the next question is what
> actually constitutes the preferred form for making modifications for
> works other than software (musical recordings, text, photos, etc.). This
> is not as simple of a question for content as it is for software. The
> answer will ultimately depend once again on FSF's interpretation as steward.

I'm not going to venture to provide a general interpretation to GPLv3's
definition of source code at this time. I am however, happy to be part
of a discussion and offer the FSF's perspective and whatever information
I can when discussing hypothetical situations and scenarios. And of
course I am happy to respond to more narrow questions or concerns people
have. Some of the examples I am most interested in looking into more are
ones in which some non-software CC BY-SA licensed work is made into a
combined work with a GPLv3 licensed software work.


Joshua Gay
Licensing & Compliance Manager <>
Free Software Foundation <>
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