I wrote a book. I wrote it on my home computer. Then I put my book, unmodified, on the public Web, releasing it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 licence. This licence entitles anybody to share my book. It also entitles anybody to adapt my book, provided that the adaptation is released under the same licence. This means that anybody can also share the adaptation. Whoever created the adaptation has no exclusive rights to their adaptation. So far so good.

Now someone is approaching me personally and would like to create a film adaptation of the book. They would like to create some kind of one-off licence or agreement which would allow them to create the film, retaining exclusive rights to their film (not the original book).

Is this a thing I/they/we can do?

I feel like there are two possibilities:

  1. There is only one book - the one on my home computer and the one on the public Web with the licence attached are one and the same. The book is covered by the licence. To adapt the book is to adapt a CC BY-SA 3.0-licenced work, no matter what. The answer to the question is "No."
  2. There is a meaningful distinction between the copy of the book on my home computer and the copy of it on the public Web with the CC BY-SA 3.0-licence. The public can see the latter, and they can adapt it, under the terms of the licence. But I still have the former, it is unencumbered, and I can licence it out separately if I so choose. The answer to the question is "Yes."

Instinctively I thought this would be situation (1), but now I want to know for sure. I've read the CC FAQ but I don't see an obvious answer to my question. I wouldn't be surprised if the answer is something else entirely.

  • The license relates more to acts like making a copy of the book than to the copies of the book itself. You can issue multiple non-exclusive licenses at the same time.
    – amon
    Mar 4, 2021 at 7:40

1 Answer 1


As the copyright holder you are free to license your work however you want. The fact that you have licensed your work under a CC license to one group does not prevent you from licensing it to someone else under a different license with different terms. This is true even if the CC license could apply to this other person. The CC license doesn't restrict what you can do with your own work. It only restricts what other people can do when they choose to use your work under the terms of the CC license.

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