Consider the following scenario (see this question for context and motivation):

  • First, I publish a work under CC-BY.
  • Then, I create an adapted version of the same work and publish it under CC-BY-NC-ND.

Is this procedure okay? What are the implications? Are there any legal pitfalls I should be aware of? I believe this question is closely related. Maybe it even answers my question, but my legalese isn't good enough to understand the answer's implications.

2 Answers 2


The copyright owner may release a work under two or more different, and perhaps incompatible, licenses, if s/he so chooses. The owner may release a base work under one license and a derivative under another.

One obvious risk is that a user might be able to get and re-use the key elements of the work under the less restrictive license (here the CC-BY license) and so the restrictions of the more restrictive license would have no effect.

Here another possible issue is that since the final paper "must be under CC-BY-NC-ND by publisher's rules", the publisher might take the position that you have in effect released nearly the same paper under a broader license, and that this is an attempt to evade or violate those rules. The publisher might call that breach of contract and sue you, or might just refuse to publish your paper at all. That would be up to the publisher, and would depend on the details of your agreement with the publisher.

But there is nothing illegal or even very unusual in having released the same content under two different license as far as the world in general goes.


Is this procedure okay?


What are the implications?

The original work is licensed under CY-BY. The derivative under CY-BY-NC-ND.

Are there any legal pitfalls I should be aware of?

Probably but since you don’t tell us why you’re doing any of this, I don’t know what they might be.

  • 1
    Well, I did link to my related question for context (if it should be of relevance to answer the question, which I did not know)...? Anyway, the short version is this: I want to publish an academic paper. A later version of the paper must be under CC-BY-NC-ND by publisher's rules. My question is whether I can safely publish the first version (the preprint) of the article under CC-BY, or whether there are inherent problems with this approach.
    – Eike P.
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 11:41
  • Specifically, I was wondering whether problems might arise because the second version is clearly some kind of derivative of the first version. So I might have partially the same content already published under CC-BY when publishing it again under CC-BY-NC-ND. that's generally not a problem?
    – Eike P.
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 11:43

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