I'm looking for a license that's similar to the CC BY-SA license that allows people to use my code for whatever purpose as long as they license derivative works under the same license. The distinction between it and something like the GPL (and why I want a different license) is that the CC BY-SA allows you to release builds of software without the source code. This means that if someone releases a source-unreadble version people can reverse engineer and freely copy it.

The issue with the CC BY-SA license is that it's not suitable for software. There's no warranty disclaimer, and its applicability to software presents a lot of questions. Is there something with the terms of the CC BY-SA except for the usual fixings in a software license?

EDIT: Something I forgot to mention is that I want to emulate something close to the CC-BY-SA 1.0 license where there is no compatibility with the GPL.

  • The fact that the license would exclude the requirement of source code distribution seems to be against the intentions of the OSI open source definition. This is making your question off topic (see opensource.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic ). I am not clear about the benefits of the license you are looking for. Maybe you could elaborate on that point (but I am not sure if that would ever make it on topic). Feb 9, 2023 at 15:16
  • Wouldn't that make permissive licenses like the MIT license off-topic?
    – webb
    Feb 9, 2023 at 15:28
  • I edited the title to clarify that I'm referring to derivatives being source-unreadable.
    – webb
    Feb 9, 2023 at 15:38
  • @Martin_in_AUT I think a copyleft license without source code requirements could be useful for adapting "free without sources" software, eg some tools included in the (MIT License) free software MS-DOS v2 release. They're binary-only but the MIT conditions allow sharing and modifying (and, of course, reverse-engineering) these programs.
    – ecm
    Feb 9, 2023 at 15:42
  • 3
    @Martin_in_AUT This question asks for a software-appropriate license that otherwise behaves identically to CC BY-SA (which is a free license according to the FSF), so this seems on-topic to me. This asks for a license that allows the downstream loss of source code, like a permissive license, but doesn't allow the distribution of binaries without rights to redistribute and modify (if you're handy with a hex editor, I guess). The free BY-SA already does this but without warranty disclaimer or patent awareness.
    – apsillers
    Feb 9, 2023 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


I do not think that a license currently exists that implements your requirements

  • copyleft

  • full attribution

  • suitable for software distribution

  • no need to provide source code

  • disclaimer of warranties

  • disclaimer of patent non-infringement

I suggest that if you require a license like this you should contact a lawyer to write it for you. Once you have done that you might want to submit it to The License Review Process so that the world can use it (without OSI blessing many developers --especially companies-- will not want to touch the code).

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