Is there a software license that doesn't distinguish between source code and raw data (as two different types of computer memorized data [computer data]), so that every piece of computer data could be licensed by it?

Such a license could cover both CC and GPL licenses.

  • Could you explain exactly which clauses in both licenses you do believe distinguish? Oct 27, 2020 at 9:24
  • Hello Philip, perhaps because I don't speak English natively I didn't quite understand what clarification you suggest; perhaps I should ask what's "clauses" here. Thanks,
    – guesto
    Oct 27, 2020 at 9:30
  • "Clauses" = the specific lines/paragraphs in each license. Hope that helps. Oct 27, 2020 at 9:32
  • I understand now; I have no significant knowledge in legal-English so I prefer not to try to explore both licenses and stick with a question about a license dealing with computer data in general while knowing that some such licenses are particular to source code XOR raw data.
    – guesto
    Oct 27, 2020 at 10:01
  • The whole problem with using CC for code is that it doesn't distinguish between source and non-source digital content, which suggests to me that CC is what you're looking for. What in CC makes you think it distinguishes between source and data, since we don't think it does? I suspect this is what Philip was asking also, though I may well be wrong (sorry, Philip, if I am).
    – MadHatter
    Oct 27, 2020 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


I fear the question is founded on a misunderstanding: that CC is specifically for non-executable forms of digital content.

As we've said here before, the problem with using CC licences for source code is that they're not specifically intended for code, so they make no mention of source availability and entitlement. Having free access to binary computer code is a lot less useful if you don't have access to the Complete Corresponding Source, and the rights to copy, modify, and distribute that, so licences like the GPL are clear about giving users rights to this. CC licences don't mention source code. It's not that they say they can't be used for source code, they just don't treat that source as a special partner to binary code, in the way (eg) the GPL does.

So the CC family of licences seem to be the "universal" licences you seek, in that they can be applied to all digital content. But when you apply them to digital content which is executable, you don't empower the users as fully as when you use a copyleft licence designed specifically for use with code. Thus, the dichotomy.

  • I thank you for this answer I find clear and helpful; I need to read more on the term "copyleft" to understand why you (indirectly) categorized GPL as copyleft, I think.
    – guesto
    Oct 27, 2020 at 10:33

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