I'm looking at potentially building an API-as-a-service around Conceptnet Numberbatch, which has the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Basically, just an API that would provide roughly the same inputs and outputs as the model itself, and users would pay on a per-request basis.

Is something like that permitted under ShareAlike? Would I need to open source the code that serves the API?

1 Answer 1


The terms of the CC BY-SA license do not forbid you to make money of the work or a derived work. The main requirements are that you give proper attribution and that a derived work is licensed under the CC BY-SA license (or a select few other copyleft licenses).

From where I sit, I can't tell if your service would be a derived work of Conceptnet Numberbatch, but if it is, you can only distribute your project by giving the recipients the same rights that you received. The CC BY-SA license does not require the distribution of source code.

  • So basically - if a customer is paying to access the API, they are allowed to take the results of the API (which comes from Numberbatch) and use them in any way they wish, including reselling? Mar 8, 2021 at 14:48
  • @jimmydean5124 The output of a work is distinct from the work itself. The GPL FAQ has a good explanation (gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.en.html#WhatCaseIsOutputGPL) that applies to all software (with a few GPL-specific notes). This answer here only concerns your program itself, not its output. (That would make a reasonable separate question, but how licensing applies to ML output may have already been asked on this site in some form already.)
    – apsillers
    Mar 8, 2021 at 21:24

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