I'm currently in the process of porting some Lua code used in a Wiktionary module to JavaScript for an npm package. I can't find anything on whether Lua Modules on Wiktionary (or Wikipedia, which also has them) are released under a license differing from the rest of the content, so I have to assume that CC BY-SA also applies to them.

Does that mean that I have to release my package under CC BY-SA as well, which is generally not recommended for software, or did I just miss the information about the modules' license from Wikimedia?


2 Answers 2


All content on Wiktionary is under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported, according to a link in the footer of each page. According to Creative Commons:

Your contributions to adaptations of BY-SA 3.0 materials may only be licensed under:

  • BY-SA 3.0, or a later version of the BY-SA license.
  • [...]

So, if you make an "adaptation" of the module, you can publish it under BY-SA 4.0. If you then proceed to make another "adaptation" of the original "adaptation":

Your contributions to adaptations of BY-SA 4.0 materials may only be licensed under:

  • [...]
  • A license designated as a “BY-SA Compatible License” as defined in BY-SA 4.0.
    • Free Art License: The Free Art license 1.3 was declared a “BY-SA–Compatible License” for version 4.0 on 21 October 2014. See the full analysis and comparison for more information.
    • GPLv3: The GNU General Public License version 3 was declared a “BY-SA–Compatible License” for version 4.0 on 8 October 2015. Note that compatibility with the GPLv3 is one-way only, which means you may license your contributions to adaptations of BY-SA 4.0 materials under GPLv3, but you may not license your contributions to adaptations of GPLv3 projects under BY-SA 4.0. Other special considerations apply. See the full analysis and comparison for more information.

What matters here is the definition of "adapatation." CC-BY-SA 3 gives this definition:

"Adaptation" means a work based upon the Work, or upon the Work and other pre-existing works, such as a translation, adaptation, derivative work, arrangement of music or other alterations of a literary or artistic work, or phonogram or performance and includes cinematographic adaptations or any other form in which the Work may be recast, transformed, or adapted including in any form recognizably derived from the original, except that a work that constitutes a Collection will not be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License. For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is a musical work, performance or phonogram, the synchronization of the Work in timed-relation with a moving image ("synching") will be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License.

CC-BY-SA 4 gives this definition

Adapted Material means material subject to Copyright and Similar Rights that is derived from or based upon the Licensed Material and in which the Licensed Material is translated, altered, arranged, transformed, or otherwise modified in a manner requiring permission under the Copyright and Similar Rights held by the Licensor. For purposes of this Public License, where the Licensed Material is a musical work, performance, or sound recording, Adapted Material is always produced where the Licensed Material is synched in timed relation with a moving image.

Either way, the original work is not an adaptation of the original work, so you cannot directly relicense from CC-BY-SA 3.0 to GPLv3 without creating an intermediate work and releasing it under CC-BY-SA 4.0, and which involves genuine creative differences from the original. You would then have to make a second adaptation, which differs from both of the first two, in order to relicense under GPLv3 or the Free Art License.


Nothing indicates that the Lua code would have a special license, you therefore have to assume that Wikitionary's default CC-BY-SA 3.0 applies.

As your port is most likely an adaptation of that Lua code, you are bound by the share-alike clause. If you publish your port you can only do so under the same CC license, or a compatible license. This effectively gives you a choice between:

  • CC-BY-SA 3.0
  • CC-BY-SA 4.0
  • GPLv3

Creative Commons licenses are generally unsuitable for software because they fail to consider issues around running the software or access to the source code. But since the GPLv3 has been declared a compatible license to CC-BY-SA 4.0, you do have a choice of a license that is suitable for software.

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