It is my understanding that since BY-SA 2.0 [1], all CC-BY-SA licenses have included some automatic "or later" clause, which means you can adapt the work and release the result under a later license.

It was recently pointed out to me that copying a work isn't the (necessarily) same as adapting it. Does re-licensing still operate if the work is copied but not modified?

[1] Relevant link:

Version 2.0 licenses that feature the Share Alike requirement now clarify that derivatives may be re-published under one of three types of licenses: (1) the exact same license as the original work; (2) a later version of the same license as the original work; (3) an iCommons license that contains the same license elements as the original work (e.g. BY-SA-NC, as defined in Section 1 of each license). The version 1.0 licenses required that derivative be published under the exact same license only. Our tweak means much better compatibility across future jurisdiction-specific licenses and, going forward, across versions. Less forking, more fun. (See Section 4b.)

(from "Share Alike Across Borders" in Announcing (and explaining) our new 2.0 licenses)

Alternatively, follow the "More info" link that appears in the "same license" tooltip on the CC-BY-SA 3.0 human readable license.


I believe that a copy is also a kind of adaptation (opposite is not true, obviously).

And yes you can take a CC-BY-SA 3.0 work and publish your "adaptation" as CC-BY-SA 4.0:

The CC-BY-SA 3.0 license says:

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.


"Creative Commons Compatible License" means a license that is listed at http://creativecommons.org/compatiblelicenses that [...]

I turn, http://creativecommons.org/compatiblelicenses says in its BY-SA Version 3.0 paragraph:

Your contributions to adaptations of BY-SA 3.0 materials may only be licensed under: BY-SA 3.0, or a later version of the BY-SA license. [...]

CC-BY-SA 4.0 is a later version of CC-BY-SA 3.0, so you can redistribute.

  • 1
    without having to resort to a lawyer, is there any way of confirming that a copy could count as an adaptation other than common sense? I ask because this is my intuition, but I don't want to accept the answer just cause I agree rather than that it is (somehow?) verified
    – lofidevops
    Sep 16 '14 at 11:03

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