I and a few others are designing yet another open instruction set architecture(ISA). Open ISA is thought by us as "free to see, and implement(even when selling it)". But we want to make this specification more than just "free", able to co-develop next versions in true open-source fashion(or just grant companies to make their own modified sets).

So we want to keep this under zlib license, highly permissive but still making the second developers to give credit for original developers. But is it possible to make just specification like ISA under a license?

1 Answer 1


Yes, because a specification is just a text document and it is protected by copyright under as a literary work (like software). However, the zlib license is not appropriate for works which are not software (because it says "this software"). You should rather use a license which was specifically designed for non-software works such as CC-BY.

  • So is there any document license that works like zlib, permissive but still forcing to give credit for original authors? Apr 6, 2017 at 12:55
  • Yes, the one that I suggested does exactly what you're asking.
    – Zimm i48
    Apr 6, 2017 at 12:56
  • 3
    @user3498780, if you want derived versions to be open as well, you could use the CC-BY-SA licence. Apr 6, 2017 at 18:18

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