I'm adapting content released under CC-BY4.0 programatically (think regex and reformatting). I'm then releasing my adapted content, giving credit to the author of the content that was the origin of the now adapted content.

Am I then allowed to give a more permissive license to "my own" adapted content (that does not including the original data that was under CC-BY4.0)? I was thinking WTFPL or similar.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Adapted works of CC-BY licensed works are not restricted to the same license. You may use any license for the adapted work, as long as proper attribution is preserved.

However, you are using mechanical transformations to modify the original work. As these transformations lack any element of creativity, you have no copyright for “your” modifications and therefore no right to issue a copyright license of your own for this adapted content. (However, the threshold of originality is jurisdiction-dependent.)

In particular, section 2(a)(4) allows technical modifications of the work for format shifting, and states that “For purposes of this Public License, simply making modifications authorized by this Section 2(a)(4) never produces Adapted Material.” Purely presentational changes definitively fall under this section.

So while you may not be able to issue your own license for the transformed works, you may license a service or a software to perform this transformation (but not the transformed works themselves), and you may hold database rights to a collection of these works (but not to the individual works).

  • So you are saying that the software that I created to do the actual adaptation (the software that does the regex) can be licenced as I please, but not the adaptation-result itself? Thank you very much for your reply. – TragedyStruck Oct 23 at 18:33
  • @TragedyStruck Exactly, that matches my understanding. – amon Oct 23 at 18:41
  • I wonder if this is just a mechanical transformation. If the OP wrote the transformation, then it is a creative step. When painting, if I use a brush, but tell the brush what to do, then I think it is a creative step. If I do not tell the brush what to do, then it is not. So the question is not did I use a brush, but how creative was I with the brush/script. – ctrl-alt-delor Oct 25 at 11:24

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.