Skip to Content.
Sympa Menu

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

cc-licenses AT

Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

List archive

Chronological Thread  
  • From: Andrew Rens <andrewrens AT>
  • To: Development of Creative Commons licenses <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: Re: [cc-licenses] input requested: BY-SA/GPL compatibility - license scope
  • Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:38:04 -0500

On 23 February 2015 at 15:33, Arne Babenhauserheide <arne_bab AT> 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 royalties.

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.

List info and archives at
Unsubscribe at

In consideration of people subscribed to this list to participate
in the CC licenses development
process, please direct unrelated discussions to the cc-community list

Archive powered by MHonArc 2.6.24.

Top of Page