Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (or CC-BY-SA) is an Open license, or "free license" (where free refers to freedom). That is, it allows anyone to use it for any purpose, with no commercial use restrictions and allowing Derivatives, provided Attribution is given, and provided the same license is used for any modified version (Share alike, the Creative Commons term for Copyleft).

See the "human readable" version and CC's statement of intent for this license.

Disclaimer This page gives general commentary based on our general experience in using this license. Appropedia is however not your lawyer and nothing on this page, or anywhere on Appropedia, is legal advice. If you need legal advice on the CC-BY-SA license then consult your lawyer.

From the Author's Perspective[edit | edit source]

You agree to allow others to:

Use - to read and study your work online or offline, on as many different devices as they want
Share — to copy, distribute and sell the work you contribute to Appropedia
Remix — to adapt your work and distribute or sell the modified work or products based on your work, including translations, audio recordings, movies or actual devices based on your designs.

As long as they:

Attribute— They must identify the creator of the work (but not in any way that suggests that the creator endorse them or their use of the work). For content created on Appropedia this requirement is satisfied by a link to the appropriate Appropedia page where you will be listed on the history tab on the top of the page. Where the content was originally created by you then copied to Appropedia by others then there should be an acknowledgement on the page and reusers should include an acknowledgement of your contribution. This will usually be in the form of a link to your web page. Please make sure we have the correct webpage info. Note that this acknowledgement may be removed if, over the course of editting the page, your contribution is reduced to a  minimum or removed.
Share Alike — they must license any content they distribute, which is based on your contributions to Appropedia, under the same CC-BY-SA license so others (including Appropedia and yourself) are free to copy and adapt and sell any improvements they have made to the content.

If you do not want your contributions to be shared and changed and reused in this way then you should not contribute to Appropedia.

Frequently asked questions from copyright owners[edit | edit source]

Doesn't this license allow people to make money off what I have freely given away? Shouldn't they be made to share some of their profits with me or with Appropedia?

This license does allow others to make money by selling things based on your contributions but it does require a real payback from them in the form of the share-alike duty - the duty to allow you and everyone else to take advantage of any improvements they come up with.
Any requirement for payment, no matter how small would need some form of administration. Under the CC-BY-SA license anyone can use our information for any purpose, without having to go through any paperwork. This means that new competitors can quickly appear wherever large profits are being made based on Appropedia information.
The attribution requirement can also be a significant source of publicity for an organisation or an individual - a way of building a reputation as an expert in a field.

If I post something and it turns out to be wrong does that mean someone could sue me?

The CC-BY-SA and other popular free culture licenses have specific clauses to address this issue. Free software is used for every essential server and web site and for the basic infrastructure of the internet for years. Wikipedia is one of the top five websites in the world and all it's content is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license. None of the authors of this software and content have been sued or charged with liability anywhere, ever. This suggests that the wording of the license is good enough that every time a party has considered suing their lawyer has advised them that it is not worth trying (but remember - I Am Not A Lawyer. If you want a legal opinion then go and pay for one).

If I give this content to you does that mean I don't own it any more?

Legally you are not giving us this content. You are giving us permission to copy your content subject to the conditions above. You still own the copyright and if you want you can you can sell it or give copies to others or allow someone else to make copies under a different set of conditions. What you can't do is cancel the permission you have given us. We will still be able to continue to distribute your content under the CC-BY-SA license even if you decide to start distributing it under other conditions.

From the User's Perspective[edit | edit source]

With this license you are free to:

Use - to read and study the work online or offline, on as many different devices as you want
Share — to copy, distribute and resell information found on Appropedia
Remix — to adapt the work and distribute or sell the modified work or products based on the work, including making translations, audio books, movies or building devices based on designs found here.

As long as you:

Attribute — You must identify the creator of the work (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). For content created on Appropedia this requirement is satisfied by a link to the appropriate Appropedia page. Where the content was originally created by others then you should also include an acknowledgment of their contribution in accordance with the information on the page.
Share Alike — license any content you distribute, which is adapted from Appropedia content, under the same CC-BY-SA license so others (including Appropedia) are free to copy and adapt and sell any improvements you have made to the content.

If you are not willing to share your changes and improvement under this license then you do not have permission to use content from Appropedia and any such use will be a breach of copyright.

Frequently asked questions from reusers[edit | edit source]

Can I really just copy stuff from Appropedia? Don't I need to apply to someone to get a license?

You can just copy anything from Appropedia. You have a license. It's the CC-BY-SA license (see above) and it's on the bottom of every page on Appropedia. (Except for a few pages under other conditions - in these cases there will be a clear notice at the top of the page explaining the restrictions. This generally means open access, not allowing derivatives or commercial use.) Provided you comply with the two conditions described above you can do what you like with the information you find here.

How can I make any money if, as soon as I make an improvement, everyone else can immediately copy it?

You can make  money selling well made products based on information you find here but if you jack up the price too high or there are parts of the world you can't supply to then it is likely that someone else may start up in competition with you. The CC-BY-SA and other copyleft licenses are designed that way. Just as we let you use our information and designs for free so we require you to do the same with us. The share-alike requirement limits the size of the profits you can make and also means that designs can improve faster and improvements can spread faster than with other licensing arrangements. It's not all bad though. The attribution requirement means that any improvements you come up with will be marked as coming from you. This can be a source of publicity for you. We are also happy to have pages on Appropedia for any manufacturers of appropriate technology equipment, including you - remember however that you do not control those pages and they may be editted by others in ways you do not agree with.

Isn't there some way I can buy an exclusive license to use information and designs from Appropedia?

Appropedia does not own the copyright to any of the content on Appropedia. All of it belongs to the original contributors, listed on the history tab on the top of each Appropedia page. All of them have agreed to Appropedia licensing their work under the CC-BY-SA license. If you would like to them to license the work to you under a different license then you need permission from these contributors, some of whom may have incomplete contact information. If you manage to get permission from all of these the page will still remain on Appropedia for the rest of the world to use as all of these contributors have already given permission to Appropedia to use their contributions and they cannot withdraw that permission.

How can you make me comply? I don't have a contract with you so you can't sue me!'

Appropedia has never gone to court to enforce our rights and we hope we never will. If we had to then this is how it could happen:
If you take content from Appropedia and redistribute it without complying with the license terms above then you are infringing our copyright. Any one of the people who have contributed to the content you are copying can go to a judge and say "They are breaching my copyright. They are pirating my stuff. Please make them stop."
We don't ask the judge to enforce the CC-BY-SA license - we ask the judge to enforce the copyright laws. In order to win the case we have to show the judge that we own the copyright and that you copied it. You have to convince the judge that you have permission. If you haven't complied with the requirements of the CC-BY-SA license (Attribution and Share Alike as described above) then you don't have permission. The judge will order you to comply with copyright law. He will order you to stop copying our stuff and pay us damages for all the copies you have made previously.
Notice that we don't ask the judge to make you license your contributions under the CC-BY-SA. We ask the judge to stop you distributing copies of the combined work until it has been rewritten or redesigned to take out all of our contributions. The only time the CC-BY-SA license will be mentioned in court is if you (the reuser) claim it gives you permission to copy in which case it will be up to you to prove that you complied with the requirements of the license.
There have been a number of cases related to enforcement of the GPL software license, which is similar to CC-BY-SA. None of these ever get to court. After talking to their lawyers the defendants decide that they would rather comply with the simple requirements above (and pay the copyright owners legal costs) than face a judge. If they had complied in the first place they would have saved a lot of lawyers fees.

Marking your work[edit | edit source]

Marking your work is important to ensure it is indexed as open content by search engines. (E.g. in Google, click advanced search and select usage rights).

Creative Commons provide a way of doing this - see Marking your work as Creative Commons.

What's not allowed?[edit | edit source]

You can't upload work created or based on the work of others, including photographs of that work. That means:

  • logos
  • CD/DVD or book covers
  • promotional photos
  • screenshots of TV shows, movies, DVDs, or software
  • Drawings of characters from comics, TV, or movies
  • Most pictures you find online

Note that the rules for images and text are the same: If it's copyrighted material that you didn't create, you can't copy and use it, even if you cite the source.


See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors Joe Raftery, Chris Watkins, Lonny Grafman
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 10 pages link here
Aliases CC-BY-SA, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, Cc-by-sa, CC-by-sa
Impact 1,336 page views
Created November 15, 2009 by Chris Watkins
Modified May 20, 2024 by Kathy Nativi
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