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I maintain a project called hacker-laws. It is a collection of laws, theories, patterns and so on.

The repo is here:

https://github.com/dwmkerr/hacker-laws

It was pointed out that the MIT License is not appropriate, as it is for code. I think the correct license should be:

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

I have three related questions:

  1. Is the CC-BY-NC license correct in this case? I want people to use the content freely, but ideally attribute the source, and not use it commercially
  2. Can I publish the content in a physical book one day and sell it?
  3. If I do decide to publish it, how can I best ensure that contributors understand it may be published, and make sure they are comfortable and consent? I would list all contributors but want to make sure all is done openly and fairly.

The idea of publishing into a book will likely never happen, but I'd like to ensure there is at least the possibility!

Thanks in advance!

  • Why do you want to use the Creative Commons "NC" (non-commercial license) yet allow people to publish the content in a book and sell it? To me this implies commercial use, even if you sell each copy for a nominal fee. – Brandin Dec 5 '19 at 7:14
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The CC BY-NC license is most likely not the license you want if you are accepting contributions from others and you are considering publishing the work also as a physical book.

As soon as there are multiple copyright holders to a work, all of them are bound by the license terms under which the contributions were made (which is typically the same license under which the work is offered). This means that you also wouldn't be able to exploit your project commercially and selling physical books will most likely be considered commercial use (unless you can make it very clear that you don't get any financial gain out of it).

As you were also considering the MIT license, the CC BY license closest to the MIT license in terms of permissions and obligations. Another possibility would be the CC BY-SA license, which requires derived works to be under the same license

  • Many thanks, it seems CC BY-SA is the most appropriate. Appreciate the advice! – Dave Kerr Dec 6 '19 at 3:50

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