Intellectual Property - Use of Dfinity Web site material documentation when teaching

Situation: The material on Dfinity’s web site and posted videos are subject to restrictive licensing provisisons that impede using the content to lawfully teach others about the ICP. A clause that limits much of the content reads as follows: “The Foundation grants you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable and revocable license to use the Website and its content for your personal, non-commercial use, and to display the content of the Website exclusively on your computer screen or on other devices (such as smartphones or tablets), subject to your compliance with these Terms.”

Issue: Many of us are creating content to be used in various bootcamps and hackathon events. This work is often done on a voluntary basis and is often posted on the Internet using various streaming services (e.g. Youtube, Dsocial, etc). As an example, recording a tour of the IC base documentation to show the structure and familiarize developers would be a violation of Dfinity’s terms and conditions.

Course of action:

A. Dfinity allow the use for educational purposes by changing the terms and conditions of their web content (e.g. on and to allow for the use of the material as part of an educational video that is being released under creative commons 4.0 CC-BY.

B. Dfinity allow the use of the graphics and video content produced by Dfinity to be used when creating videos and content for the purposes of education about the IC.

C. Dfinity amends the terms of use to reflect more permissive and expansive use.

Looking for engagement from Dfinity as the Motoko Bootcamp is forthcoming and my content is ready for release but I cannot include a tour of the IC base documentation website without permission. I have requested permission a while ago but have not received a response. Time is of the essence.


Course of action A was updated to specify known websites where content is commonly found. Others may be in use as well.

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I had not heard this feedback before. Thank you for taking the time to let us know @northman! I was not aware of its restrictiveness, nor am I sure it does block your intent.

Let me take it up with relevant folks to find out more and see how we can make sure its ecosystem friendly.


@northman and all,

I have met with the DFINITY legal team and I have much more clarity on what that verbiage means.

The quote in question:

“The Foundation grants you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable and revocable license to use the Website and its content for your personal, non-commercial use, and to display the content of the Website exclusively on your computer screen or on other devices (such as smartphones or tablets), subject to your compliance with these Terms.”

What it means in terms of educational content:

  1. Anyone can use the content for an activity that is non-commercial: hackathon, personal project, open source, etc . So the fact that this is “this work is often done on a voluntary basis” would satisfy this part. Most forms of social media would satisfy this.

  2. If one is using it for commercial purposes (e.g. selling access to a Udemy course using the content), then the wording asks folks request the Foundation for permission. How does this look like? Well tbh, this has not come up very often, but one possible way (among many, such as emailing someone at DFINITY) is to message the support team:

Was this helpful?


Much appreciated.

I suggest explicitly including “creation and distribution of educational content” in the terms and conditions, would provide greater clarity. This would reflect what you have defined in your response.

For consideration.



That’s very reasonable. let me take that back to the legal team @northman. Thanks a bunch!

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Is there any way DFINITY could create a sub section preferably on the forum (because they own it) and let their legal team discuss things with the community at large? Or would this imply too much liability for them to come out and speak with the community directly? I’d feel a lot more confident with seeing anyone develop projects with fully transparent and real legal team that we can actually shoot all of the various legal questions without needing to just sit and wait to see what happens. I’m mainly concerned about USA tbh. The states are infamous for their more dramatics. I’m wondering if you could ask them/ create a sub forum or section and have the already retained legal team come forward and talk to those of use with several questions who are in the states and need to adhere to a more conservative approach or start adhering to strict policies in order to limit their risk profile. Would you at the very least relay this concern?


Very reasonable request, let me pass it on @jsull9


Thank you @diegop and @northman for the OP. :pray:


i think this would be very interesting, from a technical and legal perspective.

Of course, i would expect the legal team to err on the side of caution, but having a presence on the forums would offer meaningful visibility to an area often called out for being quite opaque.

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I thought that as well… however this forum in particular might actually be the best place for the legal staff to come out and speak on behalf of DFINITY/ community because of the strict parameters already established on the forum. Especially with the legalese in the facts sections. This would be the ideal place to see the legal issues pan out then literally every thing outside of that (governance wise) should be taken to an on-chain forum owned by the community. IMHO that would be the most effective approach. The legal staff already have a solid foundation with the DFINITY owning everything on the forum (even my comments/ suggestions right here). I’m still skeptical about the “ownership” claims being presented by DFINITY as well. It almost feels like a high fructose corn syrup bar saying it’s 100% natural ingredients. Especially, because DFINITY owns the patents to the tech. Which we then agree to their terms and conditions when using it. So, without any disrespect to the fabulous dev teams I struggle “buying into” the hype or facade presented. So, my hope is to actually have it debated legally so then the community could perhaps set the correct legal parameters instead of a bunch of excellent developers trying to step into the legal arena when sadly, in the USA we need it actually tried in a judicial system/ Process of sorts. So the communities fears and concerns about this are actually IMO quite valid and true. It’s taken some leg work to figure out… and again I’m not a lawyer so this is why I’m lobbying for real legal action/help/ advice. Knowing it will be given with DFINITYs best interests of course;)

Any news or response from them as of yet @diegop?

Yes, I did follow up with them, and to be transparent they do not think they could successfully manage this ask. So I do not think this will happen. Its their time and energy so I respect and support their decision.

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It makes perfect sense to me that Legal Counsel would not want to be in a position to engage on matters with the community. It would place them in an untenable position given their responsibility of having to advise their client (Dfinity).

I wonder if it would be worthwhile @jsull9 to identify legal obstacles/challenges, then pursue a community grant in order to hire legal researchers to lay out some of the complexities specific to the ICP? I am not sure if a community grant could be leveraged in this way.

Just a thought.

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Thank you for the reply @diegop. Sorry for the persistence. This was one issue I wanted to make sure I stayed somewhat active in seeking a response.

I figured that would be the answer tbh. I just was more than willing to be the “annoying one” who just asks the “stupid question”. You never really know where it will take you. You miss every shot you never take :man_shrugging: and this is a topic that tickles my fancy/ I personally want to follow.


I agree it does make sense @northman again, I just really hate feeling like well, you never know unless you ask. It could lead to something/ help the collective move forward I suppose.

I do wonder if a community grant would be ideal. I somewhat hope people stop using grants on the IC and we come up with ways to produce the same “grant”, but through crowdfunding. So, the individuals could reasonably do all of this without being tied down to “any strings” or any legal attachment to the foundation. So, if in their research they find x, y, z, they can present it to the community openly and not be attached to a liability issue by perhaps presenting research that may not align with the foundations view on it. I would of course want this to be left to the individual researchers to decide based on their skill set in the legal field.

From my small amount of time working with grants I found, they (again) tend to have the same legalese problems. Making true ownership ehhh a debate that is really above my pay grade, current comprehension/ skill set. I do know grants tend to work where you somewhat own the product or rights, however, the grant provider (DFINITY) in this case does still have some right to your product. My issue with this, inside all of crypto/ web 3 is that the “not true ownership” is in these details (especially if the NPO) operates or has to adhere to USA’s NPO standards. Which, being that DFINITY has several US locations one could reasonably assume they follow these rules when dealing with individuals in this country.

This is where I hoped legal experts would shed light, because again, I am not nor am I trying to convey that I actually know this to be true. I’ll be honest, this is something that I truly enjoy learning, reading about, and conversing over, however, I have not passed the Bar exam, and I am not a “professional” legal researcher. I do know/ have seen first hand an individuals such as @skilesare or @lastmjs take these legal issues as serious as anyone, and are more experienced in finding individuals or are more established community members who could perhaps be of solid use of their expertise/ opnions they may have already received from attorneys in at the least USA. I’d like to see these groups happen for every state, every country, and everyones location to provide the best transparent information.

Again, all said and done, I do struggle with this topic and think “the devil is in the details”, and look forward to watching it unravel. If I can assist the community in any way from a very distant and removed way, such as asking the stupid (but necessary) questions by all means reach out to me.

Thanks again for the OP

Totally fair! And fwiw, I aim to be transparent as I have been here so if folks have questions, I can always ask DFINITY legal.

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