Summary of the CC-by
Debian-legal has concluded that the CC-by (Creative Commons Attribution
license) v1.0 is not a DFSG-free license.
It is quite possible that Creative Commons does not intend this to be a
Free license in the sense of the DFSG. However, since requiring
attribution and credit is acceptable under the DFSG this summary was
written to point out the other problems with this license.
- It appears (though it's slightly unclear) that credit to original
author(s) must be as prominently displayed, and in the same location,
as credit to any other author. This restricts modification (DFSG 3).
- When any Licensor asks, all references to their name(s) must be purged
from the work. This restricts modification (DFSG 3).
- Use of the "Creative Commons" trademark (or related trademark or logo)
appears to be a license violation, and thus grounds for a copyright
holder to revoke the license. This violates the "Tentacles of Evil"
test and can remove all freedoms the license grants.
As the copyright holder you could use another license like the 2-clause
BSD. This license is substantially different, though, so you should
take care to understand the license before you make a choice.
Any attempt to modify the license to pass the DFSG would need to address
the three issues above.
The clause mentioned in the final point above (dealing with the Creative
Commons trademark) is probably not intended to be part of the license at
all, as when viewed in the original HTML with an appropriate browser it
has a different background color and the html source has a comment
indicating that it is "not part of the license". Making this
distinction explicitly and in text form as well as HTML would solve this
NOTE: The above is not legal advice. If you need legal advice you
should contact an attorney.
The latest version of the CC-by license can be found at:
It is included in full below.
 Item 8 (c) on the DFSG FAQ:
Creative Commons Legal Code
CREATIVE COMMONS CORPORATION IS NOT A LAW FIRM AND DOES NOT PROVIDE LEGAL
SERVICES. DISTRIBUTION OF THIS DRAFT LICENSE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT
RELATIONSHIP. CREATIVE COMMONS PROVIDES THIS INFORMATION ON AN "AS-IS" BASIS.
CREATIVE COMMONS MAKES NO WARRANTIES REGARDING THE INFORMATION PROVIDED, AND
DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM ITS USE.
THE WORK (AS DEFINED BELOW) IS PROVIDED UNDER THE TERMS OF THIS CREATIVE
COMMONS PUBLIC LICENSE ("CCPL" OR "LICENSE"). THE WORK IS PROTECTED BY
COPYRIGHT AND/OR OTHER APPLICABLE LAW. ANY USE OF THE WORK OTHER THAN AS
AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE IS PROHIBITED.
BY EXERCISING ANY RIGHTS TO THE WORK PROVIDED HERE, YOU ACCEPT AND AGREE TO BE
BOUND BY THE TERMS OF THIS LICENSE. THE LICENSOR GRANTS YOU THE RIGHTS
CONTAINED HERE IN CONSIDERATION OF YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF SUCH TERMS AND
a. "Collective Work" means a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology or
encyclopedia, in which the Work in its entirety in unmodified form, along
with a number of other contributions, constituting separate and independent
works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole. A work that
constitutes a Collective Work will not be considered a Derivative Work (as
defined below) for the purposes of this License.
b. "Derivative Work" means a work based upon the Work or upon the Work and
other pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement,
dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording,
art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which the
Work may be recast, transformed, or adapted, except that a work that
constitutes a Collective Work will not be considered a Derivative Work for
the purpose of this License.
c. "Licensor" means the individual or entity that offers the Work under the
terms of this License.
d. "Original Author" means the individual or entity who created the Work.
e. "Work" means the copyrightable work of authorship offered under the terms
of this License.
f. "You" means an individual or entity exercising rights under this License
who has not previously violated the terms of this License with respect to
the Work, or who has received express permission from the Licensor to
exercise rights under this License despite a previous violation.
2. Fair Use Rights. Nothing in this license is intended to reduce, limit, or
restrict any rights arising from fair use, first sale or other limitations on
the exclusive rights of the copyright owner under copyright law or other
3. License Grant. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Licensor
hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual (for the
duration of the applicable copyright) license to exercise the rights in the
Work as stated below:
a. to reproduce the Work, to incorporate the Work into one or more Collective
Works, and to reproduce the Work as incorporated in the Collective Works;
b. to create and reproduce Derivative Works;
c. to distribute copies or phonorecords of, display publicly, perform
publicly, and perform publicly by means of a digital audio transmission the
Work including as incorporated in Collective Works;
d. to distribute copies or phonorecords of, display publicly, perform
publicly, and perform publicly by means of a digital audio transmission
The above rights may be exercised in all media and formats whether now known or
hereafter devised. The above rights include the right to make such
modifications as are technically necessary to exercise the rights in other
media and formats. All rights not expressly granted by Licensor are hereby
4. Restrictions. The license granted in Section 3 above is expressly made
subject to and limited by the following restrictions:
a. You may distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly
digitally perform the Work only under the terms of this License, and You
must include a copy of, or the Uniform Resource Identifier for, this
License with every copy or phonorecord of the Work You distribute, publicly
display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform. You may not offer
or impose any terms on the Work that alter or restrict the terms of this
License or the recipients' exercise of the rights granted hereunder. You
may not sublicense the Work. You must keep intact all notices that refer to
this License and to the disclaimer of warranties. You may not distribute,
publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work
with any technological measures that control access or use of the Work in a
manner inconsistent with the terms of this License Agreement. The above
applies to the Work as incorporated in a Collective Work, but this does not
require the Collective Work apart from the Work itself to be made subject
to the terms of this License. If You create a Collective Work, upon notice
from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the
Collective Work any reference to such Licensor or the Original Author, as
requested. If You create a Derivative Work, upon notice from any Licensor
You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Derivative Work any
reference to such Licensor or the Original Author, as requested.
b. If you distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly
digitally perform the Work or any Derivative Works or Collective Works, You
must keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and give the Original
Author credit reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing by
conveying the name (or pseudonym if applicable) of the Original Author if
supplied; the title of the Work if supplied; in the case of a Derivative
Work, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Derivative Work
(e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay
based on original Work by Original Author"). Such credit may be implemented
in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a
Derivative Work or Collective Work, at a minimum such credit will appear
where any other comparable authorship credit appears and in a manner at
least as prominent as such other comparable authorship credit.
5. Representations, Warranties and Disclaimer
a. By offering the Work for public release under this License, Licensor
represents and warrants that, to the best of Licensor's knowledge after
i. Licensor has secured all rights in the Work necessary to grant the
license rights hereunder and to permit the lawful exercise of the
rights granted hereunder without You having any obligation to pay any
royalties, compulsory license fees, residuals or any other payments;
ii. The Work does not infringe the copyright, trademark, publicity rights,
common law rights or any other right of any third party or constitute
defamation, invasion of privacy or other tortious injury to any third
b. EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY STATED IN THIS LICENSE OR OTHERWISE AGREED IN WRITING
OR REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW, THE WORK IS LICENSED ON AN "AS IS" BASIS,
WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED INCLUDING,
WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTIES REGARDING THE CONTENTS OR ACCURACY OF
6. Limitation on Liability. EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW,
AND EXCEPT FOR DAMAGES ARISING FROM LIABILITY TO A THIRD PARTY RESULTING FROM
BREACH OF THE WARRANTIES IN SECTION 5, IN NO EVENT WILL LICENSOR BE LIABLE TO
YOU ON ANY LEGAL THEORY FOR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THIS LICENSE OR THE USE OF THE WORK, EVEN IF
LICENSOR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
a. This License and the rights granted hereunder will terminate automatically
upon any breach by You of the terms of this License. Individuals or
entities who have received Derivative Works or Collective Works from You
under this License, however, will not have their licenses terminated
provided such individuals or entities remain in full compliance with those
licenses. Sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 will survive any termination of
b. Subject to the above terms and conditions, the license granted here is
perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright in the Work).
Notwithstanding the above, Licensor reserves the right to release the Work
under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time;
provided, however that any such election will not serve to withdraw this
License (or any other license that has been, or is required to be, granted
under the terms of this License), and this License will continue in full
force and effect unless terminated as stated above.
a. Each time You distribute or publicly digitally perform the Work or a
Collective Work, the Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the Work
on the same terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this
b. Each time You distribute or publicly digitally perform a Derivative Work,
Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the original Work on the same
terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this License.
c. If any provision of this License is invalid or unenforceable under
applicable law, it shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the
remainder of the terms of this License, and without further action by the
parties to this agreement, such provision shall be reformed to the minimum
extent necessary to make such provision valid and enforceable.
d. No term or provision of this License shall be deemed waived and no breach
consented to unless such waiver or consent shall be in writing and signed
by the party to be charged with such waiver or consent.
e. This License constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with
respect to the Work licensed here. There are no understandings, agreements
or representations with respect to the Work not specified here. Licensor
shall not be bound by any additional provisions that may appear in any
communication from You. This License may not be modified without the mutual
written agreement of the Licensor and You.
Creative Commons is not a party to this License, and makes no warranty
whatsoever in connection with the Work. Creative Commons will not be liable to
You or any party on any legal theory for any damages whatsoever, including
without limitation any general, special, incidental or consequential damages
arising in connection to this license. Notwithstanding the foregoing two (2)
sentences, if Creative Commons has expressly identified itself as the Licensor
hereunder, it shall have all rights and obligations of Licensor.
Except for the limited purpose of indicating to the public that the Work is
licensed under the CCPL, neither party will use the trademark "Creative
Commons" or any related trademark or logo of Creative Commons without the prior
written consent of Creative Commons. Any permitted use will be in compliance
with Creative Commons' then-current trademark usage guidelines, as may be
published on its website or otherwise made available upon request from time to
Creative Commons may be contacted at http://creativecommons.org/.
Jeremy Hankins <email@example.com>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333 9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03