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Which open license should you use?

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The short version of the recommendation here is: if you don't expect to earn royalties on your work (or if can afford to forgo them) use CC-BY[1] or CC-BY-SA. This would mean that for the questions "Allow commercial uses of your work?" and "Allow modifications of your work?" - the answer is "Yes".

CC-BY as a good option as it gives more flexibility for the content users, including non-commercial and copyright end-uses.

Original content producers[edit]

Let's consider the case that you're producing original content and want it to be freely used. If you do publish content by others, it will be clearly cited with the license or copyright made clear.[1]

For this case, the CC-BY license is good. This gives a lot of freedom to people using your work, only requiring attribution.

This also allows it to be used in CC-by-sa. It also allows others to use the work in a more restricted context, including mixing it with their own copyrighted material, or using a non-commercial license (NC). For example, the NC clause is often used in an educational context which you would probably want to support, even if you prefer a more open license. The CC-BY is good for allowing that usage.

See also this explanation of all CC licenses which explains the various options.

One of Appropedia's partner organizations is AIDG, and now that they've switched to the CC-BY license, Appropedia pages can use their content, with attribution.

Argument for CC-by-sa: keeping ideas free[edit]

Discussion. (This section should eventually be rewritten as an article, with the original discussion moved to the talk page.)

Consider a practical case. I develop a design which works for me. I put full details on Appropedia, every component. You take this design and adapt it to suit the conditions where you live - different climate, different quality raw materials. You want to start a little business making and selling the improved design. CC-BY-NC would prevent you selling the stuff you make. CC-BY-SA or GFDL (so called share-alike or copyleft licenses) would let you do this but would require you to let your customers make copies of your adapted design and would encourage (but not require) you to post your improvements back to Appropedia. CC-BY would let you sell improved versions of the design and would let you sue anyone (even me - the author of the original design) who makes a copy of your improvements. I believe the share-alike licenses (CC-BY-SA and GFDL) are the most appropriate for Appropedia. 23:44, 16 June 2008 (PDT)

Great point. I wonder if this is a significant issue with content apart from designs? --Chriswaterguy 04:28, 17 June 2008 (PDT)
I believe it is a significant issue for most of the information on Appropedia. The great thing about share-alike licenses is that each user can build on the contributions of previous users. What starts out as an idea can develop into a theory, an experiment, a design, a product, a business, an industry and the information stays available for all to use at every stage. I wouldn't want to contribute to Appropedia if I thought someone could take my contribution and use it and not share there developments with me. 10:49, 17 June 2008 (PDT)
Over at we have more or less decided that we are going to follow Wikipedia's lead. When they move to the GNU FDL 2.0 license we will too, and then hopefully it will be compatible with the CC-BY-SA license, and interchangeable. Mark Charmer from Akvo discussed this with Andrew Lamb of Appropedia the other day and wrote a blog post about it. --Bjelkeman 18 June 2008

More about how the CC-BY license works[edit]

This is the most free of all the Creative Commons licenses. The only restriction that is applied is the requirement for attribution.

How to apply a license[edit]

To apply a Creative Commons license, go to and click "License Your Work" at the top, then follow the steps.

If you want the CC-BY license, for the questions "Allow commercial uses of your work?" and "Allow modifications of your work?" the answer is "Yes".


  1. A citation should mention that it's copyright, or GFDL, or CC-BY-SA or whatever... most people don't worry about this on the web, and for small "fair use" extracts it probably doesn't matter. But being clear about licenses & copyright (when using reasonable chunks of content) is especially important on a site that uses an open license by default. It's not clear what a reasonable chunk is, but it almost certainly isn't an issue for just a sentence or two.

See also[edit]