If I use and adapt a part from the source code of an open-source (Java) project Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA (3.0) into my project :

I know the "ShareAlike" requirement means I'll have to release my project under the same Licence. But, does that include the compiled binaries (which is publicly distributed to people) and the source code too ?

I'm asking this because I would not want my source code to be public / open-source for now, but I'm okay to license the compiled product under CC BY-SA. It should be allright as these binaries are the only "public" product, and my source code is still private for now ?

In advance, thanks for your help!

2 Answers 2


The binaries are derivative of the source, so if you choose to distribute them, you must do so under the terms of the CC BY-NC-SA.

If you choose to publish source code that is derivative of CC BY-NC-SA, your code must be distributed under that same license. However, there is no requirement that you publish your modifications in source form, even when publishing a binary.

This is in contrast to source-sharing copyleft licenses like the GPL, which require that binaries be accompanied by "corresponding source." No version of CC BY-NC-SA has any such requirement, so you need only ensure that your distribution of the binary comply with the particular requirements of the license: i.e., attribute the authors, do not charge money for it, and allow others to redistribute it further under the same terms.

The CC Wiki has a comparison table between ShareAlike terms and the GPL which clearly indicates SA terms do not compel source sharing.

  • Perfect! Thank you very much for your answer
    – Arale
    Jul 26, 2021 at 2:26

The binaries are a derivative of the source, so the answer is a blanket yes. And CC-NC-SA does not allow to just publish the derivative binaries as closed source.

  • Could you clarify what you mean by your last sentence? The most intuitive reading of that sentence, for me, is a statement that SA terms require source disclosure alongside a binary, but that is not a requirement that exists in any CC license. If that's not what you meant to say, I think an additional sentence to expand on your meaning would be helpful.
    – apsillers
    Jul 26, 2021 at 14:37

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