I have a collection of artwork licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. I want to include some code licensed under GPL. Can I include all of it under CC BY-NC-SA? If not, what should I use? The situation:

Software A enables greater use of pre-included artwork in Software B. I am modifying Software A to be able to use my artwork. Software A is licensed under GPLv3. Can I license my artwork + my modifications under CC BY-NC-SA, should I use GPL instead, or Should I license the artwork and modifications separately?

  • Do you own the copyright to the GPL code?
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 6:54
  • Is there any relationship between the code and the artwork or are they just bundled in a single package for convenience? Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 8:12
  • @MadHatter, No. Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 19:33
  • @Bart van Ingen Schenau, it's because I modified some code so my artwork can be used by it. Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 19:34
  • @EJBraswell: Can you be more explicit on how the code and artwork are related? Does the code create the artwork? Or do I have to think more of a program that you use to draw your artwork in? If I obtain a copy of the modified program, would I be able to create my own artwork with it that is clearly distinct from your artwork? Would I be able to reproduce your artwork with the program? Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


No, the GNU GPL license and any of the Creative Commons Non-Commercial licenses are incompatible. The Non-Commercial licenses meet neither the Free Software Definition nor the Open Source Definition.

Here's what the GPL License Compatibility list says about CC-BY-NC:

This license does not qualify as free, because there are restrictions on charging money for copies. Thus, we recommend you do not use this license for documentation.

In addition, it has a drawback for any sort of work: when a modified version has many authors, in practice getting permission for commercial use from all of them would become infeasible.

That said, if all you're doing is bundling the two together (for example, in a zip file) for ease of distribution, then you can do that, but the CC-BY-NC-SA and the GPL parts need to retain their licenses. You won't be able to say that the bundle as a whole has only one license.

  • Ok, so I license the artwork as CC BY-NC-SA, the code under GPL, and the Modified files under GPL, right? Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 20:58
  • @EJBraswell Yes that sounds right. Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 23:24

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