Creative Commons (CC) licenses have become instrumental in promoting the sharing, use, and distribution of creative works, including software, images, music, and documents. Among these licenses, the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) licenses stand out for their commitment to openness, collaboration, and the promotion of a vibrant creative community. In this article, we will delve into CC-BY-SA-3.0 and CC-BY-SA-4.0, examining their core principles, key features, and implications for creators and users alike.

CC-BY-SA-3.0 – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License:

The CC-BY-SA-3.0 license is the third version of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. It builds upon the principles of its predecessors while introducing some notable updates. This license grants users the freedom to:

  • Share: Users can copy, redistribute, and adapt the work in any medium or format.
  • Remix: Users can transform, modify, and build upon the work to create derivative works.

However, there are specific conditions that users must meet when utilizing a work under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license:

  • Attribution: Users are required to provide proper attribution to the original creator. This includes acknowledging the author’s name and attributing the work to the specific CC-BY-SA-3.0 license version.
  • ShareAlike: When users create derivative works or modifications based on the original, they must distribute those derivative works under the same CC-BY-SA-3.0 license. This is known as the “ShareAlike” provision, which ensures that any downstream creations maintain the same level of openness and are subject to the same license terms.

The CC-BY-SA-3.0 license strikes a balance between openness and creative control. Creators benefit from the recognition they receive through proper attribution, while users can freely use and modify the work, knowing that their modifications must be shared under the same terms. This fosters collaboration, innovation, and the growth of the open culture movement.

CC-BY-SA-4.0 – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License:

The CC-BY-SA-4.0 license is the fourth version of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license and represents the most recent update to this series of licenses. It upholds the core principles of its predecessors while incorporating improvements and clarifications. The CC-BY-SA-4.0 license grants users the same freedoms as the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license:

  • Share: Users can copy, redistribute, and adapt the work in any medium or format.
  • Remix: Users can transform, modify, and build upon the work to create derivative works.

The key features and conditions of the CC-BY-SA-4.0 license are largely consistent with the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license:

  • Attribution: Users are required to provide proper attribution to the original creator, acknowledging the author’s name and the specific CC-BY-SA-4.0 license version.
  • ShareAlike: Users who create derivative works must distribute them under the same CC-BY-SA-4.0 license, ensuring the continued openness and shareability of creative works.

One significant update in the CC-BY-SA-4.0 license is the emphasis on global applicability. It is designed to be more international in scope, making it easier for creators and users around the world to understand and comply with the license terms.

Additionally, the CC-BY-SA-4.0 license provides better compatibility with other open licenses. Creators have the option to license their work under multiple versions of the CC-BY-SA license (e.g., 3.0 and 4.0) or combine it with compatible licenses like the GNU General Public License (GPL) or the Apache License. This flexibility allows creators to foster broader collaborations and encourage the integration of their work into a wide range of projects.


The CC-BY-SA-3.0 and CC-BY-SA-4.0 licenses are powerful tools that empower creators to share their work with the world while retaining control over its use and distribution. By embracing these licenses, creators contribute to a global culture of openness, creativity, and knowledge sharing. Likewise, users benefit from the freedom to engage with, adapt, and build upon the shared works, provided they uphold the conditions of proper attribution and share-alike distribution.

These licenses are at the heart of the open culture movement, promoting collaboration, innovation, and the democratization of knowledge and creativity. Whether you are a creator looking to license your work or a user seeking to utilize CC-BY-SA-licensed content, understanding the principles and implications of these licenses is essential for ensuring a thriving and interconnected creative community.

If you’re interested in exploring a comprehensive list of various open-source licenses and their details, feel free to check out our guide to “Open Source Licenses : A Guide To Software Licensing“. Happy licensing!


  1. “Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported – CC BY-SA 3.0.” Creative Commons.
  2. “Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International – CC BY-SA 4.0.” Creative Commons.
  3. “Open Source Initiative.” Open Source Initiative.

Note: The references provided above cover a range of sources, including official Creative Commons documentation, open-source organizations, and educational resources related to licensing. These sources are valuable references for gaining deeper insights into the concepts and implications of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licenses and open-source licensing in general.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *