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I am choosing a license for a number of documents.

I want a license that:

  • allows reuse/modification even for commercial purposes
  • does not require attribution
  • Forces re-users to keep the same level of openness
  • is rather famous, at least most open-oriented people have heard of it.

What license matches these requirements?

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Creative Commons ShareAlike 1.0 Generic (CC SA 1.0) should match all of your requirements. However, CC SA 1.0 has been retired by Creative Commons in 2004 due to inadequate demand, and they recommend using one of their current licenses instead.

  • +1 Yes, that used to be my favorite, too bad they retired it :-/ – Nicolas Raoul Nov 11 '14 at 3:22
  • You can still use the license. Their "retiring" it is meaningless as far as the legality of the license is concerned, it just means that they're not going to actively recommend it. If it meets your needs, just use it. – Gray Nov 11 '14 at 7:57
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The requirement that modified versions of the documents have the "same level of openness" was added after my first answer. If that is not a requirement, and you just want to throw the documentation into the world to be used however people want without attribution, you should release the documents as public domain/creative commons zero.

If a "share alike" version is important, the only well known documentation license I know of is the GNU FDL It's meant for textbooks and manuals and is analogous to the GPL, so anyone distributing the text needs to also distribute a human-editable version of the text. So will anyone who redistributes more than 100 copies of the text.

Probably the easiest approach would be to require attribution and use a CC-BY-SA license. Is it really so important to not be credited for the documents?

  • Thanks that's an option indeed. Any license that forces re-users to keep the same level of openness, though? – Nicolas Raoul Nov 10 '14 at 2:01
  • @NicolasRaoul : I think the FDL does ... they allow books to be printed and sold, but they require the license to stay open : "You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the Document are reproduced in all copies, and that you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of this License." – Joe Nov 11 '14 at 17:04

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