Suppose I have a peice of software that I am developing with a group of friends. Suppose we license our work under a CC license and publish it on the internet.

My question:

If we license our software as open source are we legally obligated to provide access to the source code? If no, why not? Is this just optional?


1 Answer 1


Creative Commons licenses aren't appropriate for software, in particular because they contain no requirement on the availability of source code. So technically (and legally) you could distribute your software as binaries under a CC license, and licensees would be allowed to modify the binaries, but that wouldn't be open source by any definition.

The Open Source Definition, section 2, requires the availability of source code:

The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

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