I am working on some materials for sale to history teachers. I have found a map that has a:

CC BY-SA 3.0

...licensed attached. I am not adapting the map or altering it in any way.

My understanding is that since there is no "non-commercial" clause on the map, I'd be good to use this in a product for sale as long as I credit the author for the image.

Am I correct there?

  • 1
    There's no 'no commercial' clause - but a 'share alike'. Thus it and its derivatives need to be shared alike the original. "ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.". So you may sell. But you must allow anyone to distribute it and its derivatives under a CC-BY-SA license for any fee they like, including none. Aug 3, 2020 at 13:12
  • @planetmaker Is your quote not the opposite of what the OP is intending to do - he is not contributing to the map, rather the map is essentially a contribution to the OP's work.
    – MikeB
    Aug 3, 2020 at 15:16
  • That's how I understand it, yes. It doesn't matter either way, the result is the same Aug 3, 2020 at 15:20
  • You should consult your publisher as well, if they would support this at is legally risky (see unclear definition of derived work as well as extensive notice requirements).
    – eckes
    Aug 3, 2020 at 18:28
  • Is what you are selling a digital or physical product?
    – Polygnome
    Aug 3, 2020 at 22:18

2 Answers 2


Your analysis would hold if the licence on the map was CC BY. For CC BY-SA, a little more is required. The licence requires that you

retain the following if it is supplied by the Licensor with the Licensed Material:

[list of notices for retention deleted];

indicate if You modified the Licensed Material and retain an indication of any previous modifications; and

indicate the Licensed Material is licensed under this Public License, and include the text of, or the URI or hyperlink to, this Public License.

Moreover, the map remains under CC BY-SA; that is to say, you must understand that if someone excerpts the map from your material and reuses it in a way that accords with CC BY-SA, they are within their rights to do so, and it will be pointless for you to sue them.

Some would argue that the entire work becomes a derivative of the map, and thus subject to the ShareAlike requirement, but as we discuss elsewhere the little jurisprudence we have on the subject suggests this is not so, and you are merely aggregating the map with other material in your final work. Nevertheless, this is a thorny area, and you would do well to take professional legal advice before betting a business on the issue.


"Share-alike" is described as

ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

And that is definitely more than just give credit by mentioning the name. It means you have to give the same license (CC-BY-SA) to every of your customers for the material you derive from this map. That means you cannot stop anyone from distributing the CC-BY-SA licensed material and distribute it themselves under the same license for any fee they like - which might just as well be none at all.

To what extend you create an aggregation rather than a single derived work certainly might be up to debate and depends on details - MadHatter said what can be said about that.

In any case: IANAL/IANYL

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