I am in the process of developing a mobile game that I intend to sell on Google Play. I want to include a music licensed as:

Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

If I attribute the author/contributor of the music, am I allowed to sell my game without the same license?

I would like to get opinions from people who have had experience in this situation.


1 Answer 1


The text of the licence states:

Share Alike—If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license.

and in more detail...

1.a "Adaptation" means a work based upon the Work, or upon the Work and other pre-existing works, such as a translation, adaptation, derivative work, arrangement of music or other alterations of a literary or artistic work, or phonogram or performance and includes cinematographic adaptations or any other form in which the Work may be recast, transformed, or adapted including in any form recognizably derived from the original, except that a work that constitutes a Collection will not be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License. For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is a musical work, performance or phonogram, the synchronization of the Work in timed-relation with a moving image ("synching") will be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License.


4.b You may Distribute or Publicly Perform an Adaptation only under the terms of: (i) this License; (ii) a later version of this License with the same License Elements as this License; (iii) a Creative Commons jurisdiction license (either this or a later license version) that contains the same License Elements as this License (e.g., Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US)); (iv) a Creative Commons Compatible License....

So, if your inclusion of the music in your game counts as an "Adaptation" then you may distribute it only under a similarly free & open licence.

Synchronizing a video to an unmodified music track is explicitly called out as an example of an adaptation of that musical work, so I would strongly suspect that use of music in a game - where it is triggered in synch with changing game states and layered with other audio in the game - would also count as an adaptation. By that reasoning, your game itself would need to be distributed under a similar licence.

I am not a lawyer, so when in doubt I'd recommend seeking professional legal advice.

For instance, another recent answer suggests that games would be considered "collective work" rather than "derivative work" or "adaptations" and that the share-alike provision might not apply in this case. I don't have the legal knowledge to say with authority which interpretation is correct, so consulting a lawyer is likely your best bet.

You do also have another option available, which is to contact the original author of the content you wish to use and ask for their permission. As the copyright holder, they can give you licence to use and distribute the work in any particular adaptation, even if the base licence would not permit that use.


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