I am working on creating an online localized wiki about Linux programs. I am hosting the documents files on GitHub and I would like to choose an open source license for it. The problem is that I don't understand the nature of users' contributions to the repository and whether it's considered like software or not.

For example, when a user sends me a pull request on GitHub and if the license of my documents was CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Does that mean that everybody won't be able to use the documents for commercial purposes including me? Or I would be the only one allowed to use it however I like even after someone sends me a pull request and I accept it?

Another question is whether taking those documents and putting them in a nice way on a website with installing Google AdSense script is considered to be a commercial use of those docs?

1 Answer 1


(Note that CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 is not an open source license.)

If users contribute (pull requests) to a work (your wiki) licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, they convey:

You can use this contribution under the terms of the license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

So yes, if you share their contributions, you may not do this in a commercial way. You can only ignore the license if you are the sole author.

Assuming that the advertisements result in a commercial context (see below), you have three options:

  • Only show advertisements on pages that don’t include any contributions.
  • Get the permission from your contributors.
  • Change the license to one that allows commercial use, e.g., CC BY-SA 4.0.

Is it a NonCommercial purpose?

But do advertisements result in a commercial context? Unfortunately, the license doesn’t define this explicitly. Some argue that it’s only commercial if you gain a profit, some argue that any kind of advertisement makes it commercial.


If you want to be on the safe side, don’t show advertisements for content that contains contributions.

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