I'm currently distributing my software to create websites under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license. Now some people are selling my software as it is, which is allowed by this license. I don't like that users are paying for software to people who didn't made it and which is available for free.

If I would switch to the non-commercial version of CC-BY-SA 4.0, this would also forbid companies to use my software for their business website, wouldn't it?

I'd be happy about tips which license I could use for my software to allow commercial use but not selling it.

Thanks for your answers!

1 Answer 1


The CC license scheme has a limited set of combinable menu items, where certain conditions are encoded with specific language in the license. In CC-BY-NC this involves a definition:

NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation. For purposes of this Public License, the exchange of the Licensed Material for other material subject to Copyright and Similar Rights by digital file-sharing or similar means is NonCommercial provided there is no payment of monetary compensation in connection with the exchange.

Let's say that this is an accounting program, and businesses would use it to gain a commercial advantage (e.g. not having to spend capital on a fancy paid program, reduce expenses owing to the need to hire additional bookkeeping staff). Such a use could be considered "Commercial" (would not be NonCommercial). If I were to use the program for household bookkeeping, since I am not engaged in commerce, I do not gain compensation or commercial advantage. And even if I happen to run a craft side business with a couple of sales every year, my use is primarily intended to be for personal convenience.

At the end, they modify NonCommercial more narrowly, saying that you can "sell" the software using not money, but other copyrighted material – so a program-for-program exchange is allowed.

Then there is the License Grant:

Subject to the terms and conditions of this Public License, the Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-sublicensable, non-exclusive, irrevocable license to exercise the Licensed Rights in the Licensed Material to:

reproduce and Share the Licensed Material, in whole or in part, for NonCommercial purposes only; and

produce, reproduce, and Share Adapted Material for NonCommercial purposes only.

There does not exist a CC license specifically tailored to allowing "use in business" but excluding "sale of copies". In order to do that, you would have to write your own license (or hire an attorney to do that), and then you would have to distribute the work with that license.

Another approach is to model the license based on the StackExchange TOS. There is a superficial problem (in this q&a, which I expect will eventually disappear, and also raised here), that the SE TOS seems contradictory, by saying that material is licenses under CC-SA terms, but then the terms are made more restrictive (which contradicts the CC-SA license). The SE license containse in §13 a merger clause:

This Agreement (including the Privacy Policy), as modified from time to time, constitutes the entire agreement between You, the Network and Stack Exchange with respect to the subject matter hereof. This Agreement replaces all prior or contemporaneous understandings or agreements, written or oral, regarding the subject matter hereof.

When there is an apparent conflict, the SE terms win (as far as I can see). Therefore you might include an overriding provision in your license, which says something like "sale of the content is forbidden, but use in business is allowed" (don't use that literally). Your attorney (get one) could professionally advise you as to the most efficient way to get what you want.

A remote third option is to explain to the CC people what you want, and maybe they would be willing to create a new license parameter.

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