Can artwork under CC-BY NC ND be used in AGPL codebase?

I have sprites for a game I want to release under CC-BY NC ND license. Game code itself is licensed as AGPL, while sprites are mostly CC-BY SA. Our sprites are completely new and we do not want them to be used commercially.

Will that work? What we can do to make our sprites unusable commercially, or that is impossible if code is AGPL?

1 Answer 1


That is a tricky question and the answer depends whether you ship it as one entity or as two (and whether that can be done sensibly). Generally any CC-NC license is incompatible with any GPL license: The latter allows commercial usage.

However, if your artwork is distributed as a separate package, and your code can live without the artwork, it's fine. But that basically means that the end user has to have the ability to combine your product from those two packages and that the possibility exist to create alternate graphic ressource packages.

Many games apply two licenses, one to code, one to art assets where the latter can be shipped separately and the form of the assets is known. As an example: OpenTTD comes with the base game which requires one or another base set of graphics (and sound and music) to be installed; a choice to obtain and download these is offered via installer or you provide your own from a locally available path. Given this is clearly separated, it is no issue to have different licenses for graphic assets and code.

That said, you should consider an ND clause very carefully. It also means that none of your successors may edit the graphics even to adjust it for the purpose of improving the project you donate them to. Also consider an NC clause very carefully - it excludes your project being offered on an app store or similar. Thus my advice is to actually put the graphics assets under the same license as the code itself or to use CC-BY-SA. In any GPL context that does mean commercial usage is allowed - but it is only allowed when the corresponding code is shared, in an AGPL case even that it is shared when you only offer the product as a service without distributing it.

  • that sounds pretty much like what I had in mind - separate package Dec 22, 2019 at 9:04

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