Open source licenses, using licensed source code under new licenses

Radcliffe, Mark Mark.Radcliffe at
Sat Apr 5 00:23:45 UTC 2008

As General Counsel of OSI, I think that you need to speak with a lawyer,
because the answer to your question depends on how the various parts of
the project interact. You have particular problem because CC licenses
are designed for creative works, not software, so they are unlikely to
work well with the other licenses. Naturally, this is not legal advice,
since I don't have enough information and you are not currently my
client. If you want to hire a lawyer to resolve the issue, I suggest
that you consider either Gwyn Murray or Larry Rosen. They are both very
experienced in this area. 

Gwyn Murray
Law Offices of Gwyn Murray
E-mail:	gwyn at

Full Name:	Lawrence Rosen Esq.
Rosenlaw & Einschlag
E-mail:	lrosen at


-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at] 
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 7:59 AM
To: Ryan S. Pettigrew
Cc: license-discuss at
Subject: Re: Open source licenses, using licensed source code under new

Ryan S. Pettigrew scripsit:

> 	I've been working on code that I intended to release under a BSD

> license. It incorporates code from BSD licensed source, Apache 2.0  
> licensed source, and source under a Creative Commons license (I  
> realize Creative Commons has multiple licenses, and that I'd need to  
> clarify which one; for now, please assume it is the compatible one,  
> if there is one). I realized that, with all these licenses floating  
> around, that the BSD license may be either too open or too closed to  
> work with these other licenses. 

All those licenses (assuming the CC license is CC-BY) permit the
creation of derivative works under any license you like, so there can
be no problem.

That said, you should not change the license on a module of code that
you reuse unchanged.  It may be illegal and is definitely tacky.

I am not a lawyer; this is not legal advice.

Only do what only you can do.               John Cowan <cowan at>
  --Edsger W. Dijkstra's advice
    to a student in search of a thesis

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