0
\$\begingroup\$

So I have been building a game in one of the RPG Makers with the end goal to sell it. while I have been working hard coding up my own scripts one in particular is a complex Active Battle System like that of Zelda which gives me more options for enemy verities and attack patterns.

The script has in the comments a Creative Commons - Attribution-NonComercial-ShareAlike license. I asked about NonComercial and I get 2 kinds of answers

  • I can not sell the game at all if the script is in there as such I either have to replace the script or give the game away for free
  • I can not sell the script or remixes of the script for others to use as such in a compiled game which isn't open source (ie. you have to hack/decompile it to get it's scripts) it's fine to sell the game with the script

now I am a long ways away from completing the game and it might be possible that later on my scripting skills get to the level that I can rebuild the Battle System to be similar but of my own code (or even hire someone to do it for me)

however, in the situation that I complete the game and I can not replace the script, does it prevent me from selling it? or does NonComercial prevent me from selling the script for others to use for themselves?

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you plan on selling your game you should probably see a copyright lawyer about this. \$\endgroup\$ – ZEKE Oct 30 '17 at 13:50
3
\$\begingroup\$

tl;dr: No, you can not use that script and sell your game.

The answer can be found in the license text of the CC-BY-NC-SA. This is version 3.0. You did not specify the license version. This answer assumes 3.0. When the script you are using uses a different license version, parts of this answer may be inaccurate. But the versions differ mostly in wording, not in spirit, so the tl;dr would likely be the same. Also, I am not a lawyer. This is a layman interpretation. Do not consider this leagal advise.


First of all, Creative Commons themselves advise against using CC licenses for software. They were designed for creative media like music or art. So some parts of it are unclear regarding how to apply them to software. Some people use the CC-BY-SA-NC for software regardless, because it's one of the few reasonably popular standard licenses with a "free for non-commercial use" concept.

The License section 3 gives you the right to adapt and redistribute the work. This is what you want to do. So far everything is fine. But later sections puts certain restrictions on it, for example the section 4c:

You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.

That's the Non-Commercial clause, and it means no, you are not allowed to use the script in any project which makes you money. Selling the game voids all your rights to use the script. That means you no longer have permission to use the script at all.

Another clause which might be problematic to you is 4b, the ShareAlike clause:

You may Distribute or Publicly Perform an Adaptation only under: (i) the terms of 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-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 US) ("Applicable License").

That means the script must be redistributed under the same license conditions. Whether that means that your whole game must be CC-BY-NC-SA depends on whether a game which uses the script is an "Adaption" or a "Collection". The license defines these terms, but the definition is IMO not really applicable to software. An "Adaption" would be subject to this clause, a "Collection" would not. This ambiguity is one reason why one should not use CC licenses for software.


By the way, many people who create software libraries under such "inconvenient" license terms do that as a promotion measure. When you would like to use their work in a commercial project, they might be willing to provide it to you under more convenient license conditions if you pay them a license fee. You might want to contact them and check out if they can be negotiated with.

Paying for 3rd party components is almost always cheaper than developing it yourself. In those cases where the component is not, that's usually either because it is unsuitable or because of the work it takes to integrate it with your own components. But you have already evaluated that it's suitable and sunk the cost to integrate it, so it doesn't matter.

\$\endgroup\$
-1
\$\begingroup\$

Firstly, I am not a lawyer.
Second, the creative commons licensing site has some simple break downs for their licenses.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/

According to this, it would seem that no commercial use is allowed, unless there is some legal exception based on your specific circumstances.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ what "specific circumstances" could that be? \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Oct 30 '17 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know, perhaps a country where licenses are not honored or enforceable. Or if there's some weird statute that works like mechanical licenses for songs. Original question states nothing about where they are. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Oct 30 '17 at 19:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.