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Am I Allowed To Make a StackOverflow Clone?

I am programming a StackOverflow clone. Functions and layout, just for study.

Will I have any legal problems? Will there be problems if I release the source code?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 21 '09 at 19:45

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by dbr, ChrisF, Robert Cartaino, Ian Elliott, Jeff Atwood Aug 22 '09 at 6:02

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Further evidence that we need a new close type "Programmers are not lawyers" or "Belongs on JudicialOverflow" –  JohnFx Aug 21 '09 at 22:18
    
Nope, but you will take 6-8 weeks. –  Decio Lira Aug 21 '09 at 22:47

4 Answers 4

There have already been multiple StackOverflow clones, including one written in Django with its source code released on Google code. The only legal issue I can think of is that if you re-use the CSS, you have to credit StackOverflow as the originator as required by CC-BY-SA.

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The site design and logo are not protected under by the CC license. They are copyrights of Stack Overflow LLC, and cannot be used without explicit permission. –  Ian Elliott Aug 21 '09 at 19:50

See this at the bottom of the page: "site design and logo is © 2009 stackoverflow.com LLC; user contributed content licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required"

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You can't copy the layout, logo and style, but you can replicate the functionality and concepts if you want.

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I don't think the user is at all interested in Stack Exchange. They want to do a project as a learning experience, and are not after a hosted version of the service. –  Ian Elliott Aug 21 '09 at 19:52
    
Removed –  jmfsg Aug 21 '09 at 19:53

I think the main problem would be that you might not have a hosting system powerful enough to handle the amount of visitors of SO. With tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of questions asked and answered every day, you would have a problem to make your site scale upwards.

Legal problems are more likely when you take some elements as code or binaries from this or other sites to use on your own site. Something simple as a logo or name could already be a copyright or trademark infringement. Another possible legal problem might arise when you promote your site as the biggest or best forum about when visitors discover that it only has about 5 active users. And if you mention your site here and at a lot of other locations, you might get in legal problems for spamming.

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I don't see where you drew the connection between creating a clone of stackoverflow and having to deal with a massive user base. It's not like when you clone the layout and mechanics that you suddenly import all of the users along with it. Also, the infrastructure behind StackOverflow and the sister sites isn't (hosting) should not be of concern to someone trying to develop the same type of software. –  TheTXI Aug 21 '09 at 20:15
    
Well, if you only have 5 members, who would even notice that you've copied a whole site? Just you and four others, perhaps. –  Wim ten Brink Aug 22 '09 at 7:04