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I'm using some images that have a CC BY-SA 4.0 license in my website. Of course I apply the correct attribution as is required by the license.

I am, however, confused by the "ShareAlike" section that states "ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original."

I am not able to license the whole website of even page on which the image is displayed under the same license as the image.

Does to "remix, transform or build upon the material" refer to changes or adaptations of the image, or would it mean I need to license the whole website on which the image is published, including any other images or texts?

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    Have you already consulted the CC FAQ? Do you understand the difference between a mere 'combination' (which does not create an adaptation) and an 'adaption'? Jul 25, 2023 at 10:15
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    Also recommended reading is the real license text itself: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode The license itself does not use the term "remix", for example, but instead gives specific definitions for Licensed Material (i.e. CC-BY material which is used unmodified and therefore for which SA provisions do not apply) and Adapted Material (i.e. material for which SA provisions apply).
    – Brandin
    Jul 25, 2023 at 11:13

1 Answer 1

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Does to "remix, transform or build upon the material" refer to changes or adaptations of the image

Amongst other activities, yes, it does.

Would it mean I need to license the whole website on which the image is published, including any other images or texts?

That's the important question, I agree. This takes us back, yet again, to Drauglis v Kappa Map Group, which, whilst not binding anywhere, is nonetheless one of the few pieces of litigation we have that directly addresses the question of using a BY-SA image as part of a larger work.

In Drauglis, the court found that reuse of an unmodified or insignificantly-modified image on the cover of a road atlas did not require the whole atlas to be licensed CC BY-SA.

While the court focussed on images reused verbatim or with insignificant modifications such as minor cropping, it seems to me that the argument must apply equally to modified images. However, this is not the place to make that argument, and I can only point you to the judgement as a guideline: if you reuse those images with minimal or no changes, you're probably OK not to release your whole website, or even the whole webpage on which the image appears, under CC BY-SA 4.0. Don't forget the attribution requirements, though, and (as ever) IANAL/IANYL.

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