I am creating a commercial game, with most resources using CC-BY-xx licences for graphics, sound etc. I have found some graphics that i want to add to my game. However, these graphics are licensed as "GNU General Public License version 2". Can someone tells me how to use them commercially?

  • Should i ship these images (source form) along with my game?
  • Should i ship the game with its source code, even if i use some GPL images i.e. not software? Or should i ship the modified resources i.e. images like the CC-BY-SA does?

The license shows up as:

"You may use and distribute this image under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2."

  • 3
    CC-BY-SA and GPL are incompatible. If they both apply to the same derived work, then that work cannot be distributed at all. Whether that's the case here is a harder question, though.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 3:30
  • @Kevin, thanx. I am using a lot of CC-BY-SA resources. That means, unless i remove CC-BY-SA resources from my project, i cannot use GPL resources together? I cannot remove my CC-BY-xx resources, that is for sure since the GPL resource i want to use is merely a small part.
    – vlzvl
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 4:05

1 Answer 1


Firstly, I guess this is a clear example of why the GPL doesn't work well for content rather than code (just as the CC licences don't work well for code rather than content).

Secondly, the question of how a GPLv2 image combines with the CC-BY-SA content comes down to whether the larger work that includes that image is a derivative work of that image. If it is, then as Kevin says above, the licences are incompatible, and the resulting work cannot be distributed.

Consider the judgement in Drauglis v. Kappa Map Group, LLC. Although the writeup linked is rather emotive and misspells the plaintiff's name throughout, it has the summary correct: the use of a copylefted image as the main cover photo for a book made neither the entire book nor the cover alone a derivative work of the cover photo. As the judgement put it, "the Court finds that neither the atlas nor its cover constitutes a derivative work subject to the ShareAlike requirement".

My personal feeling is therefore that you can have GPLv2 images displayed in your game alongside CC-BY-SA images (and sound) as long as you don't deliberately try to create derivative images or other works that combine GPLv2 content and CC-BY-SA content. You will, of course, need to make sure that the GPLv2 content (and, for that matter, the CC-BY-SA content) can be obtained in isolation by anyone who wishes to avail themselves of the benefits of the licence.

But IANAL/IANYL, so you should seek a qualified legal opinion before you put yourself in harm's way.

  • Thanx for the very informative answer :) I thought it was easier but i was wrong. The resources are old and i can not really find the author which stacks the problem even more. I will take the first paragraph of yours to the heart and do not mess with wrong content the next time. Thanx :)
    – vlzvl
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 11:17

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