Context :

As I just hit the evil reputation, 666 (don't worry it's already over), I eventually did something bad here : copy-paste content, forgot to mention the source and got caught by the author, ooops !

Well, StackExchange content is under cc-by-sa license allowing me to remix that content with conditions.

This is an already discussed topic but, as I understood it, the blog post was more aimed at attributions while doing external reuse of the content. In that case it's fair to cite (or not to remove) author's name and original url while copying whole answers.

In my case I just copied 2 lines of another answer because I noticed it could improve mine. Original author isn't cited, AskUbuntu obviously is. I voted up the reused content.

I don't want to piss off users, especially those with a high reputation ;-) because they like to be cited and I did not. Moreover I know for sure that people are happy to see they contributed to something even if it is anonymously (because in my point of view, that's how and why free software works).

I usually link to external content but for small excerpts it isn't clear to me how I could do a full attribution without losing conciseness. I'd better not use external content if it makes my answers less clear.

Question(s) :

  1. Is it fair to just reuse content if it stays in StackExchange without worrying for attributions because I already "paid" the other one with my (anonymous) vote ?
  2. Is something like I reuse content 1 a nice solution ?
  3. Can the author allow me to bypass some license restrictions, like allowing me to reuse some content without the attribution requirement ?
  4. Imagine my remixed answer is again reused. From a more general point of view, how should the many-contributors-situation be handled ? It does not seems too obvious : Share-Alike without Attribution topic.

(edit) Bonus question (title question in fact) :

  • How would you actually reuse content under the cc-by-sa license ?
    (I was more interested in the small in-line citation case but more general examples may also be interesting for the community).
  • "I think he will agree in most cases if asked." → I don't want you to have to ask for permission! The License is also there to ensure that you have the freedom to re-use my content. This is the most important bit. It's true that license holders can grant exceptions to omit attribution, and if you should ask me I most likely will, but I don't like to, because it restricts your freedom. Giving attribution, even when in doubt, is the easiest way to protect that freedom. Jan 11, 2011 at 11:29
  • @Stefano: How would removal of a restriction (if "attribution required" was waived) end up more restricted? If your concern is the user being able to do as they please (more than anything else, for the sake of example), why wouldn't you like to waive that?
    – Fred Nurk
    Jan 12, 2011 at 1:42
  • 1
    Attribution is one of the small hurdles that you have to jump to be able to do as you please without having to ask me. If I waive it to anyone, a 'culture of asking before doing' may come be created, so I wanted to make it explicit. It doesn't factually, but culturally. If instead everybody agrees to just copy with attribution, people 'feel' less obligated to talk to an author, thus more free. something like that :) Jan 12, 2011 at 6:24

1 Answer 1

  1. No, it's against the license. Give attribution as specified. Not only is it a legal requirement, it's a moral indicator that your answer is not your work. I hate it when other people try and pass my work off as their own (by omission or otherwise) so attribution keeps everything above board on both fronts.

  2. Not really. For offline, paper-based documents this is beneficial because hyperlinks don't work when you poke them with your finger and an inline URL breaks the flow.

    But we're on the web. Hyperlinks work here. Use them properly.

  3. I don't see your argument. For a quick quote you can very easily write something like:

    But I read on another post:

    Quote from the other source

    If you're worried about not being curt enough, drop the quote inline and make the whole thing a link.

    Not only does it mean you're giving attribution correctly but the question asker (and people with similar issues) can trace the source, read the rest of the post and even talk directly to the person who wrote it.

    You do nobody a service by breaking the chain.

  4. Seems simple enough. If they copy your text, they attribute you post. If they copy the post you copied, they attribute that post, if they copy yours in full, including the original post, they attribute both (if they haven't copied in your attribution).

  • 1
    Your example in #3 doesn't meet the moral and legal requirement you mention in #1: it's missing the author name and a hyperlink to the profile of the author. Of course, this doesn't address that a small enough quote may or may not need a license, how it is covered under fair use, etc.; but if one were to say the license didn't apply to the quoted bit for any reason, the whole question seems moot. Do we need to follow the attribution requirements exactly as specified, or ...?
    – Fred Nurk
    Jan 11, 2011 at 2:30
  • Regarding Fair Use: the term, as far as I know, is specific to the USA (maybe others). The EU restricts copying in a much more complicated way. The EU directive 2001/29/E §5.2 onwards restrict this (and I'm trying my best to understand it here) to works that are not even indirectly commercial. So, from what I understand, it makes no difference whether the citation is small or large, because we're indirectly commercial. (I am not even close to being a lawyer) :-) Jan 11, 2011 at 11:25
  • 1
    @StefanoPalazzo Fair Use also requires attribution : author and source. So it does not seems to make a difference here with the cc-by-sa license. As I understand it, it allows us to cite copyrighted content as if it has a cc-by-sa license for small excerpts.
    – Maxime R.
    Jan 14, 2011 at 10:26
  • 1
    @Oli regarding #3 I wondered if an author could allow to bypass some license restrictions (like the attribution requirement). I will edit my question to clarify this point.
    – Maxime R.
    Jan 14, 2011 at 10:35
  • @StefanoPalazzo: I was hoping not to open that can of worms, but did want to give an example of what I meant. The point is you can use something as allowed by a license, or as allowed by something other than a license, but this question seems to be only concerned with the former rather than the latter.
    – Fred Nurk
    Jan 24, 2011 at 11:05
  • @Maxime: No, fair use is not like CC-BY-SA; at least not as CC-BY-SA is applied to this site. The license here has very specific requirements (such as a hyperlink to the profile of the author with a very specific nuance of how to hyperlink) that are not required under fair use (or similar).
    – Fred Nurk
    Jan 24, 2011 at 11:07
  • @Maxime Yes the author of a post can license their work as they wish as it's always theirs (they just grant StackOverflow Inc a CC-etc license). @others the license doesn't explictly allow "fair use" because fair use is supposed to be a mechanism for using work out of license, fairly. Unfortunately, as Stefano points out, it's a pain to actually screw down on which fair-use laws you follow and then apply. It's simply easier just to use it under the CC-BY-SA license.
    – Oli Mod
    Jan 24, 2011 at 12:19

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