Creative Commons: GPL-Copyleft versus Share Alike

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at
Wed Mar 19 11:11:00 UTC 2003

On Wed, Mar 19, 2003 at 09:17:24AM +0000, Ward Vandewege wrote:
> > I got a reply saying that the goals were too different for them
> > to comment.  CC isn't for software.
> Hmmm, not so sure about that - the GPL is my software license of choice, but
> there isn't all that much difference with CC's Share-Alike license.

I wouldn't use any of the CC licenses for software, they are too vague.
Issues such as static/dynamic linking are a lot more vague than the GPL.
You or I can read it as being sufficient but IBM (etc.) could easily
pick holes in it (for software).

> I do think you're mixing up
> Lessig and Eben Moglen, the FSF legal council, who donated $20,000 to the FSF
> last year

how embarassing.  Your right.

> I think CC and the FSF are complementary in the way that CC is much more
> accessible to the masses.

More accessible yes, but I don't think the CC licenses would offer as
much protection for software as the GPL does.

> I've asked CC about dual-licensing things (GPL & their BY-SA license), and
> here is what they said:
> >[...]
> >Ultimately you can do what you like, but I
> >think you could run into problems if there are any conflicting terms in
> >either of the licenses.

The CC person appears to be wrong in this case.  Dual licensing cannot
cause such "conflicts".  If you dual license, the receiver of the item
can choose to use it under the terms of either license.  Could you let
me know who said this so that I can clear this up?

> So that is probably what I will do with the software I write.

I'd strongly suggest you consider not dual licensing the GPL and a
CC license.  Using a CC license will leave your software far more
open to exploitation.

The requirement to ship source code isn't clear, and the requirement
to ship *readable* source code is not mentioned at all... etc.  SCO
could easily (and legaly) produce a modified version and *not* ship
the source.

Last point: software is about the only type of "work" not mentioned
in the CC licenses, Lessig is well aware that software exists :)
There just might be a reason why they left it out.

Ciaran O'Riordan

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