Open Source License for Excel Macros (Was: Creative Commons)

Cinly Ooi cinly.ooi at
Fri Aug 8 13:15:52 UTC 2008

ALWAYS get your lawyer to check what you are doing is fine.

Having said that, my two cents:

2008/8/5 Somik Raha <somik.raha at>

> Thank you all for the enlightening answers. I didn't realize that CC should
> not be used for software. I think I will stick to CC for powerpoint
> templates and books, and allow authors to pick their own version while
> giving them a guide on what each license means. I am not sure I'd like to
> insist on Open Office simply because most strategy consultants who've
> created the templates have done so on Powerpoint. If such consultants don't
> open source simply because they think its too much work to port their
> slides, other people won't get the opportunity to port some really good work
> to OpenOffice. I believe that once good material gets out in the open,
> people who care about OpenOffice will port Powerpoint templates and make it
> available. Perhaps there might even be an opportunity to include these
> business templates inside OpenOffice (if anyone here belongs to the
> OpenOffice group and is interested in working with me on this, please drop
> me a note).

That is obviously a management problem. Normally, if you are the consumer,
your provider will give you in OpenOffice if that's what you want. If you
are the provider, then you would normally have to give what your customers

I think we should not focus on the actual mechanics of the templates
delivery, i.e., Microsoft Office or OpenOffice format. The key is the
content, i.e., the arrangement of stuff you see on screen. Make sure that
recipient has the rights to do what you want them to be able to, and this
should include file format shifting.

> On another note, my other dilemma is what to do about Excel VBA macros. In
> our field, consultants have developed very powerful Excel macros that help
> them do their analysis. I was looking into GPL, but felt that GPL would be
> incompatible with any Microsoft product. At the same time, there are some
> authors who don't prefer CPL and would like their VBA code to always be
> open. I wouldn't like to put a restriction on using OpenOffice for the same
> reasons as the powerpoint templates. What do people suggest?

Read up the section of "System Libraries" and the following two links from
GPL's FAQ might be of interest

IMHO but IANAL, anythings that Excel provide falls under the definition of
"System Libraries".

The second one deals with providing your own exceptions. This is the most
promising and usually the easiest to accomplish for something small like
macros where the copyrights ownership tree is not very tall and deep. One
word of advise, it is easier for your downstream developer if you get
everything in the macro GPL-ed or use a GPL compatible library for
everything in the macro except Excel-supplied functions.

Best Regards,
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