How far does the Non Commercial aspect of by-nc-sa stretch?

E.g. someone published a JSON Schema for an (external to both of us) set of JSON files that I wish to validate without a license. I asked them if they could license it so I could use it in a free/open tool that allows people to create and validate that their game-resources are valid according to the Schema.

Whilst I never want to take my tool commercial or closed, I can't say the same thing about the assets produced by the tool, which indirectly uses the CC - NonCommercial license via the published JSON Schema, which could be hosted on sites with ad-revenue or otherwise used for profit.

Will my tool using the NC JSON Schema force my users to use their creations only in a NC way?

If I make no modification to the JSON Schema in my tool, does my tool also have to be published under by-nc-sa ?


  • 1
    The sa part is the viral part, share-alike means you have to share the modified work under the same terms. If you don't force the use of templates you include, the user can choose between CC templates or their own non-restricted template.
    – sambler
    Aug 27, 2018 at 6:57
  • It's not so much a template, but a schema, they won't be editing the schema, the schema validates their work. They won't be making derivatives of it, but using it in the creation of their own works.
    – Ryan Leach
    Aug 27, 2018 at 8:22

1 Answer 1


Ryan, your comment actually was the answer: They won't be making derivatives of it, but using it in the creation of their own works.

The license is about the use, reproduction and distribution of the schema and not something it has touched. If the result neither contains the schema nor contains parts of it then the licensing will not apply to them.

(As an extreme example: a copyrighted pen can be used to write a free novel.)

  • 1
    A slightly less extreme and more realistic example: A non-free text editor can be used to write a free novel. Sep 4, 2019 at 8:36

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