CC0 license is GPL compatible. A component with such license can be included in GPL-licensed product.

Is this true also for CC BY license? What is the difference between CC0 and CC BY licenses? Particularly, I am interested in such aspects of these licenses, which are related to media and their use in GPL software.

  • 1
    These are two separate questions. CC-BY GPL compatability, and the general difference between CC0 and CC-BY. The first one is an answerable question, but the second one is rather broad. Could you maybe edit to narrow to the first question, and for the second, ask a separate question, specifying further in which regard you want to compare CC0 with CC-BY? (see also: meta.opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/32/… )
    – Martijn
    Aug 19, 2015 at 15:07
  • GPL compatibility of media and other assets tends to be a non-issue: see opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/1344/…
    – Martijn
    Aug 19, 2015 at 17:07

3 Answers 3


CC-BY is listed among compatible licenses near the bottom of the GPL license compatibility page:

This is a non-copyleft free license that is good for art and entertainment works, and educational works. It is compatible with all versions of the GNU GPL; however, it is not recommended for use on software.

In general, the difference between CC0 and CC-BY is that the latter requires attribution and is not recommended for use with software while CC0 requires practically nothing and is OK for use with software.

With regard to why CC-BY is unsuitable for software, the Creative Commons FAQ says

Unlike software-specific licenses, CC licenses do not contain specific terms about the distribution of source code, which is often important to ensuring the free reuse and modifiability of software. Many software licenses also address patent rights, which are important to software but may not be applicable to other copyrightable works. Additionally, our licenses are currently not compatible with the major software licenses, so it would be difficult to integrate CC-licensed work with other free software. Existing software licenses were designed specifically for use with software and offer a similar set of rights to the Creative Commons licenses.

But, with regard to CC0, the same FAQ says

... the CC0 Public Domain Dedication is GPL-compatible and acceptable for software.

  • "however, it is not recommended for use on software." - why ? Aug 19, 2015 at 15:53
  • on GPL compatibility page , it's mentioned about Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (a.k.a. CC BY). What about CC BY 2.0 ? Are these images GPL compatible ? flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0 Aug 19, 2015 at 15:55
  • 2
    @progmastery Why shouldn't Creative Commons licenses be used for software?
    – apsillers
    Aug 19, 2015 at 16:35
  • 1
    @progmastery You really shouldn't be using GPL for images. Use GPL for software, Use Creative Commons for creative works (i.e. images, writing...)
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 19, 2015 at 17:19
  • Yes, I do not intend to use GPL for images or CC for software. The only thing I want, is to include CC BY images into the GPL software as bundled resources. As I understood, this should not violate the GPL of the software. Aug 19, 2015 at 17:44

The CC0 license is intended to be a "Public Domain Dedication". In jurisdictions where the public domain is non-existent: it attempts to waive all rights in order to be as close to the public domain as possible. However, be wary of how you use CC0. In some jurisdictions, there is the concept of "Moral Rights", which includes attribution, which can not be revoked by the licensor. In those cases, attribution is required.

The CC-BY license is a general, permissive license, requiring only attribution. With CC-BY licensed content, you are able to modify, re-distribute and even make commercial usage of it.

If you want to take CC0 licensed content, you can re-license it under CC-BY. Therefore, to answer your question, they are compatible.


Discussing the compatibility of the CC-BY license and the CC0 public domain dedication with the GPL is a bit odd: The CC ones are not intended for software, and the GPL is not intended for things that are not software. While those intentions have been ignored occasionally, in most cases GPL compatibility simply doesn't come up.

That said, both are GPL compatible, as detailed by the FSF in http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.en.html#GPLCompatibleLicenses

  • I think the author kind of acknowledged that CC0 was compatible with the GPL, but was asking whether it was the same for CC-BY...
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 19, 2015 at 15:10
  • @Zizouz212 and this answer tells them that yes they are
    – Martijn
    Aug 19, 2015 at 15:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.