Can I sell software which uses someone else's code which is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported?

The software is closed source, and aside from the borrowed code, is entirely my own.

  • How do you use the "borrowed" code? Have you included it in your own code that you plan to sell, or are you expecting the user to provide it? Regardless of the legalities, have you considered the ethics? – Glenn Randers-Pehrson Dec 12 '15 at 13:43
  • @GlennRanders-Pehrson It is open source on GitHub. (github.com/prime31/CharacterController2D). I want to know if I can use it as part of a larger project which I intend to sell. The code is intended for public use. I am just not sure if it is intended to be used in commercial products. I care about the ethics as well as the legality of using this code. – Evorlor Dec 12 '15 at 13:49
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    The last line of README.md in that GitHub project is "You cannot sell the CharacterController2D directly or as part of a larger game asset." I am not a lawyer, but it looks pretty clear to me. But I've been the "someone else" and watched a large corporation, seemingly not bound by ethics, violate my permissive license so maybe I'm biased. – Glenn Randers-Pehrson Dec 12 '15 at 14:23

Unless I've completely misunderstood the question, that would be violating two of the Creative Commons license's restrictions:

  • That it can only be used in non-commercial contexts
  • That any derivative works be licensed under the same license

I really don't know how you thought you could use CharacterController2D in a commercial closed-source app! That's the exact opposite of what the license is for!


I contacted the author directly. They said that it is OK to use the code commercially as long as it is used as part of a compiled and closed source greater project. It is not allowed to sell his actual code stand alone or as part of another code base.

So the code cannot be sold, but you might be able to obtain a different license from the copyright owner.

  • 2
    Copyright holders can always give you an exception to the license, but that doesn't mean the license itself allows it. – curiousdannii Dec 12 '15 at 22:55
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    You need a legally binding document granting you this exception. – vonbrand Jan 16 '16 at 1:23
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    @curiousdannii this is interesting. So the author of some software actually holds a kind of copyright and can issue under various licenses? – James P. Jun 8 '16 at 22:47
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    @JamesPoulson I think that would make a good question. If you ask it, can you link it here please? – Evorlor Jun 9 '16 at 3:49
  • 2
    @Evorlor here it is. Hope I've phrased it properly. opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/3979/… – James P. Jun 9 '16 at 15:50

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