If I license a work under Creative Commons and do not apply the ShareAlike (SA) attribute, can someone else re-publish the UNADAPTED work without the license or with another license? All I find about the ShareAlike (SA) attribute is about adaptations. But what about re-publishing a work unadapted?

For instance if I publish a work on my site (site 'A') under CC BY license -(only 'attribution') - without ShareAlike (SA) attribute, someone who re-publishes the work on a site 'B' should credit me and notify that the original work (on site 'A') is under CC BY license, but he or she need not share it alike. That gives the impression that the re-publisher could apply any license to the copy of the work on site 'B', e.g. open domain, or a copyright under own name. Then, what is the value of the original CC license?

1 Answer 1


The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (and all versions) is explicitly "non-sublicensable". If you receive a copy of the work under that license, you cannot place the work under a new license. The license grants you only the rights to

A. reproduce and Share the Licensed Material, in whole or in part; and
B. produce, reproduce, and Share Adapted Material.

When you give copies of someone else's CC-licensed work to downstream recipients, they do not receive a license grant for the original work from you; they receive it from the original author/licensor:

  1. Downstream recipients.
    A. Offer from the Licensor – Licensed Material. Every recipient of the Licensed Material automatically receives an offer from the Licensor to exercise the Licensed Rights under the terms and conditions of this Public License.

When you include someone else's CC-licensed work in an adaptation, you may license the adaptation under other terms, but the underlying CC-licensed work remains under its CC license. From the CC FAQ:

If I derive or adapt material offered under a Creative Commons license, which CC license(s) can I use?

If you make adaptations of material under a CC license (i.e. "remix"), the original CC license always applies to the material you are adapting even once adapted. The license you may choose for your own contribution (called your "adapter's license") depends on which license applies to the original material. Recipients of the adaptation must comply with both the CC license on the original and your adapter’s license.

When sharing someone else's work, the original CC-licensed work always remains under its original license. By contrast, the "ShareAlike" condition means that your own work used in an adaptation of a CC-BY-SA work must be placed under CC-BY-SA terms as well. ShakeAlike does not refer to the requirement to preserve the license on existing CC-licensed material (which is always present), but rather it refers to the requirement to include it on new material.

  • Thank you for this extensive explanation. The last sentence summarizes it well. That was not completely clear to me from the Creative Commons site. Commented May 28, 2016 at 15:00

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