Bookdown is a commonly used package for authoring reports, books etc. in the R language (but can just be used for writing anything, if you know Markdown, and you want a way to produce HTML, PDF, ePub etc. outputs automatically). The code itself it released under GPL3 (although not in a very "formal" way...)

Included in the package are some templates for producing HTML "books": some HTML templates, CSS "code" and Javascript code. Here is an example: Welcome to Text Mining with R though you can find 1000s of these on the web (and so I don't wish to get too hung up on this example: I could ask instead if I can release a website version of a book, authored with Bookdown, and using this template, as CC-BY, for example?)

That example is licensed CC-BY-NC-SA, and not GPL3.

Is this allowed, under the GPL3 terms? This Creative Commons website suggests not.

The underlying issue is that the "book" uses the CSS, JS and HTML code from the template (the "GitBook" template) in the BookDown package. I am new to all this, but from some Googling, this seems slightly a contentious area. There is no question about the PDF version of the book (actually, you can find arguments either way; here is an argument that the PDF is also covered by GPL3). But the website version seems to use "code":

A broader question here is: how do you separate the code from the content of a website? One could guess that in the example above, the intent was to license the content of the book as CC-BY-NC-SA.

I ask the same question, but now suppose I am using a website template which is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA (a randomly chosen example -- sorry, this example is bad, as I'm not sure it has any real content; but in principle I hope you see the idea). Can I license my website content (but not the CSS, js etc. code) as CC-BY, for example? Or is the whole website a derivative work?

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    This is not an answer to your question, but the fastest way out of this is to configure bookdown to use a set of templates that you have written, as it is the GPL license on the templates that is causing issues. Next to that, you should ask the maintainer of bookmark to apply the GPL license properly (as described in gnu.org/licenses/gpl-howto.html) and if the templates can be put under a permissive license, perhaps even CC0. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 14:43


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