Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As the question says on the tin: Can I integrate software under Creative Common for commercial gain? I want to use Creative Common software (e.g., for some big clients.

share|improve this question
Any answer that doesn't suggest legal counsel, and that isn't written or given by your attorney is wrong. – greyfade Apr 29 '11 at 0:03
There is no Creative Commons license, singular. There are a variety of them. Figure out which one applies. Similarly, "commercial gain" is a vague phrase. Any Free/Open Source license (and not all Creative Commons licenses qualify) will allow you to use software for commercial gain. Not all of them allow you to incorporate the software into proprietary/closed source product for sale. – David Thornley Apr 29 '11 at 15:08

You are free to do so, provided you meet the requirements of the license.

In the case of Apprise, you are free to use it in any way you want, so long as you attribute the original author, and that you release any changes under the same license (CC-BY-SA 2.5). You are even free to use it commercially, since it doesn't have the non-commercial restriction.

If you're confused about the license terms, read the Creative Commons FAQ, read the license text, and discuss the issue with your attorney.

share|improve this answer
I think that if you're going to use CC software for a commercial purpose you should definitely talk to a lawyer, even if you also read the terms yourself. – Tikhon Jelvis Apr 28 '11 at 0:49
Sorry but I cannot accept an answer that asks that I seek legal help – Carnotaurus Apr 28 '11 at 22:45
@carnotaurus: Why not? You can always use a free half hour or hour session with any number of lawyers for your consultation. – Demian Brecht Apr 28 '11 at 22:52
@Carnotaurus: Any time you deal with legal issues, you have basically two choices: Figure it out yourself or talk to a lawyer. Because if someone forces you to go to Court over some issue, and you tell the Judge "lolo, the internets told me," you'll instantly lose the case. Either follow my advice and seek Legal Counsel or get some big, heavy law books and figure it out yourself. Whatever you do, you'll be better off with an attorney. – greyfade Apr 28 '11 at 23:55
I've had to upvote that "lolo, the internets told me [sic]". It brought a smile and an image of an inbred Jed in the courtroom. – Carnotaurus Apr 29 '11 at 10:27

Read the specific license and see if it is compatible with the sort of commercial gain you want to get. There are several Creative Commons licenses, and all sorts of ways to make money with software, some or all of which will not work with specific licenses. For example, you can't bring software under a GPL version into a proprietary product and distribute it, and you can't use something under a Creative Commons non-commercial license commercially.

My rule of thumb is that licenses mean what they say, and if you're careful to abide by the letter and spirit of the rules you should be safe. If you want to use the software in a way that's not definitely within the spirit, consult a lawyer. It will be a lot cheaper to get a quick consultation than it would be to get into legal trouble later. (If you're not going to use the software as the owner intended, why do you expect to do so without any legal costs?)

You can always ask the copyright holder for clarification or to see if you can use the software under another license. (There's a reasonably popular model where you can use software either under a Gnu GPL or pay money for a license that's less restrictive in some ways.) The worst they'll do is say "No", and then you're no worse off than before.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.