Let's say I create a CC BY 4.0 work today, and others contribute to it under the same license. Some individual elements will have multiple authors, some will have single authors. Some might include CC BY 4.0 elements from other sources. Some might include elements with earlier CC BY licenses.

All elements will have a statement similar to Stack Exchange, something along the lines of: "User contributions licensed under CC BY 4.0 with [attribution required]."

When CC BY 5.0 is released, I want to simply update that statement to say "CC BY 5.0". How can I achieve this?


The CC-BY licenses are not copy-left. They do not require you to publish the content under the same license. The only big license condition is that you must provide proper attribution.

Therefore, changing the license of the content is totally unproblematic, even when changing to non-CC licenses – as long as you keep the attribution intact.

The situation is totally different for CC-BY-SA licenses, which are copyleft licenses. The SA-4.0 license has built-in forwards compatibility, so a CC-BY-SA 4.0 work can also be used under a future CC-BY-SA 5.0 license.

  • out of curiosity, is an SA-3.0 to SA 4.0 transition also smooth?
    – lofidevops
    Apr 6 '18 at 11:38
  • 1
    @d3vid as a special case, yes. The SA-3.0 has a clause that allows compatible licenses, and SA-4.0 is considered compatible. In contrast, the SA-4.0 allows future versions in advance.
    – amon
    Apr 6 '18 at 12:14

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