CC BY-SA 4.0 requires attribution as specified in § 3(a)(1),

If You Share the Licensed Material (including in modified form), You must: identification of the creator(s) of the Licensed Material and any others designated to receive attribution, in any reasonable manner requested by the Licensor (including by pseudonym if designated);

Can this right of attribution be sold by the Licensor? Can I legally purchase this right granted to the Licensor? Can this right be severed from the actual act of creation?

Note, if the actual "manner requested by the Licensor" can not be transferred can a special power of attorney be provided such I could notify the licensee on behalf of the licensor of the attribution to be provided?

Example: Foo produces content under CC BY-SA which he provides to ACME Corporation. Evan wishes to own the attribution for this work under the terms of CC BY-SA, can Evan purchase this right to be attributed for work released under CC BY-SA, and "reasonably" request ACME Corporation attribute him.

1 Answer 1


What the CC-BY-SA license does here is to contractify moral rights.

Many countries have a right to be recognized as the author for your artistic works. This “moral right” is somewhat independent from the economic aspects of copyright, and is often not transferable. For example, this answer is licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0 but I am subject to German law. I cannot assign or transfer my moral rights, though I could decide to not exercise them (e.g. by answering anonymously, or by using the CC-0 instrument).

Now in the US, the situation would be very different. The US technically recognize that moral rights exist, but don't really protect them. Copyright can be transferred freely. If the new copyright holder issues a CC-BY-SA license, they and not the original creator might have to be attributed.

Your question is a slightly different scenario: first, the original creator issues a CC-BY-SA license which requires reasonable attribution to the original creator. Then the copyright is transferred. Can the new copyright holder require existing attributions to be updated? I don't think so. The attributions were correct at the time when the license was issued. However, the licensor does have the right to request removal of attributions per section 3(a)(3).

Is it possible to only transfer the right to attribution without other aspects of copyright? From my European perspective this is exactly the wrong way around: economic aspects would be more transferable than moral rights. But either way, transferring only a right to attribution without other aspects of copyright makes little sense. If the purpose of attribution is to credit the original creator, that cannot be meaningfully transferred because only the creator is the creator. If the purpose of attribution is to indicate the (current) copyright holder, that can be transferred but not independently of other aspects of copyright. Adding a notice that suggests that you hold the copyright if you do not could be fraudulent.

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