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If I understand correctly, SE offers its contents using a CC-BY-SA license with additional restrictions: namely, from point 3 of the TOS,

In the event that You post or otherwise use Subscriber Content outside of the Network or Services, with the exception of content entirely created by You, You agree that You will follow the attribution rules of the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license as follows:

a. You will ensure that any such use of Subscriber Content visually displays or otherwise indicates the source of the Subscriber Content as coming from the Stack Exchange Network. This requirement is satisfied with a discreet text blurb, or some other unobtrusive but clear visual indication.

b. You will ensure that any such Internet use of Subscriber Content includes a hyperlink directly to the original question on the source site on the Network (e.g., http://stackoverflow.com/questions/12345)

c. You will ensure that any such use of Subscriber Content visually display or otherwise clearly indicate the author names for every question and answer so used.

d. You will ensure that any such Internet use of Subscriber Content Hyperlink each author name directly back to his or her user profile page on the source site on the Network (e.g., http://stackoverflow.com/users/12345/username), directly to the Stack Exchange domain, in standard HTML (i.e. not through a Tinyurl or other such indirect hyperlink, form of obfuscation or redirection), without any “nofollow” command or any other such means of avoiding detection by search engines, and visible even with JavaScript disabled.

Although the wording "You will follow the attribution rules [...] as follows" is a bit misleading, these are indeed additional restrictions; for instance, CC-BY-SA says nothing about nofollow, and asks for hyperlinks only when reasonably practical (at least in the newer versions; the older ones did not specify anything. The TOS never specify a CC-BY-SA version number, and it contains links to both the 2.5 and 3.0 version).

Adding additional requirements is apparently frowned upon by the CC folks, and they require that you stop using their name and logo in that case:

Can I change the license terms or conditions?

Yes—but if you change the terms and conditions of any Creative Commons license, you must no longer call, label, or describe the license as a “Creative Commons” or “CC” license, nor can you use the Creative Commons logos, buttons, or other trademarks in connection with the modified license or your materials.

My understanding is that Stack Exchange sites should stop using the CC name and logo outright. Is this correct?

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Removing the additional restrictions in the TOS would be the better way in my opinion. I'm not a laywer, but it doesn't seem too far fetched to argue that they are invalid at the moment anyway and that the terms of the CC licence take priority. –  Mad Scientist Nov 28 '13 at 9:24
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Those restrictions are there by design: see blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/06/attribution-required. And, for other issues between stackexchange and nofollow, brianbondy.com/blog/id/104. –  Federico Poloni Nov 28 '13 at 9:32
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I think the key point is that there used to be "You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor" in CC. See cached page. Now there is no such thing. So it's a fault of CC to change summary (and maybe text) without changing licence number. Stack simply used the version that used to be there and did not change the license terms or conditions or imposed any rules. It's CC who changed things. –  Mołot Nov 28 '13 at 9:45
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And in case the cache @Mołot mentioned disappears, this is a screenshot of it. –  Bart Nov 28 '13 at 9:52
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@Mołot good find. I was wondering if there was more to it as I seem to recall reading something akin to the cached page you found before. –  psubsee2003 Nov 28 '13 at 9:53
    
Web archive link to that version, in case Google cache will disappear and someone wouldn't trust a screenshot by @Bart ;) So, it used to be OK for licensor to specify an attribution manner. Now it's not. Strange. –  Mołot Nov 28 '13 at 9:54
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@Mołot That is only the summary and not the actual licence, it is not legally binding. –  Mad Scientist Nov 28 '13 at 9:57
    
@MadScientist yes, but whoever puts misleading or false information can be held responsible for any damage done. At least in my country. –  Mołot Nov 28 '13 at 9:59
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So whenever I am writing an answer to Stackexchange I have the possibility to tell them how they have to attribute the work to me, as I am licensing it to them in CC-BY-SA? In this case, I'll officially inform SE that this comment must contain a hyperlink to my website formatted in Comic Sans 32pt, white on pink background, blinking at a frequence of 0.32 Hz. –  Federico Poloni Nov 28 '13 at 10:10
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Note that the statement essentially says that the original source needs to be clearly linked and you should do nothing to obfuscate it or to somehow prevent its discovery. That seems like a fair enough (and easy to comply with) request. –  Bart Nov 28 '13 at 10:48
    
@Bart fair? They require no nofollow, but at the same time they force nofollow on most source links we post in content on Stack network. How is that fair? –  Mołot Nov 28 '13 at 11:34
    
@Mołot though that's an other issue entirely. –  Bart Nov 28 '13 at 12:19
    
@Bart I disagree with "entirely", but OK, posted as separate question: meta.stackexchange.com/q/209269/225745 –  Mołot Nov 28 '13 at 12:43
    
@Bart - how does posting a redirected URL (TinyURL for example) prevent discovery? You click the link, and you are taken (redirected) to the source page. –  Kevin Fegan Nov 30 '13 at 6:00
    
@Kevin, I tossed a lot of stuff in my answer below, but the issue is how search engines discover content most likely, and having a redirection service and nofollow masks any attribution from a webcrawler (they cannot find the initial source of the content since they don't follow the link to the redirect). –  jmac Dec 4 '13 at 2:20

2 Answers 2

From the legal, less human-readable text (emphasis mine):

If You Distribute, or Publicly Perform the Work or any Adaptations or Collections, You must, unless a request has been made pursuant to Section 4(a), keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and provide, reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing: (i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, and/or if the Original Author and/or Licensor designate another party or parties (e.g., a sponsor institute, publishing entity, journal) for attribution ("Attribution Parties") in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, the name of such party or parties; (ii) the title of the Work if supplied; (iii) to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work;

IANAL, but that sounds like SE is allowed to tell you how the link should look.

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An URI is an internet address, such as http://example.com/index.php. The licensor can specify which address they want, so they can tell "link to http://example.com/ rather than http://example.com/redirect/index.php". This clause has nothing to do with how the link itself should look, and in fact it does not even mandates that the URI has to be inside a hyperlink. –  Federico Poloni Nov 28 '13 at 10:06
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So the TOS should include "to the extent reasonably practicable" text, right? Anyway, many sites, like this one, makes it impossible to post a link without nofollow, and I don't think SE has any legal or moral right to require or even ask others for no nofollow until they will get rid of it themselves. –  Mołot Nov 28 '13 at 10:14
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@FedericoPoloni You could be correct there, I'll leave the answer up for the sake of information. –  Stijn Nov 28 '13 at 12:45
    
@KevinFegan I guess we'll need a lawyer, this is too confusing. –  Stijn Dec 4 '13 at 10:48
    
IANAL either - perhaps I'm missing something or misinterpreting it... What I read is--- If you distribute/perform "The Work", you must do "...(these things)..." related to attribution, etc., and "(iii)", provide the URI, "unless the URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work". I read this as: if the URI provided is not a link to a copyright notice or licensing information, then you are not required to provide any URI. –  Kevin Fegan Dec 4 '13 at 10:51

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, blah blah blah, grain of salt, etc.

Network Content and Subscriber Content are 'Collections' under the terms of the CC-BY-SA license:

"Collection" means a collection of literary or artistic works, such as encyclopedias and anthologies, or performances, phonograms or broadcasts, or other works or subject matter other than works listed in Section 1(f) below, which, by reason of the selection and arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations, in which the Work is included in its entirety in unmodified form along with one or more other contributions, each constituting separate and independent works in themselves, which together are assembled into a collective whole. A work that constitutes a Collection will not be considered an Adaptation (as defined below) for the purposes of this License.

Basically, each post it itself is a Work, but the nature of Stack Exchange is to combine Questions with Answers creating a new entity that is a Collection and licensed by Stack Exchange. This is why Stack Exchange is able to pursue sites that do not follow their attribution rules and not require individual posters whose Work(s) have been plagiarized to issue DMCA takedown notices. This is good.

There is a very different requirement for attribution in regards to a license, however. Section 4c covers the rules for attributions (emphasis mine, changed formatting to improve readability):

If You Distribute, or Publicly Perform the Work or any Adaptations or Collections, You must, unless a request has been made pursuant to Section 4(a), keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and provide, reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing:

(i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, and/or if the Original Author and/or Licensor designate another party or parties (e.g., a sponsor institute, publishing entity, journal) for attribution ("Attribution Parties") in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, the name of such party or parties;

(ii) the title of the Work if supplied;

(iii) to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; and

(iv) , consistent with Ssection 3(b), in the case of an Adaptation, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Adaptation (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author").

The credit required by this Section 4(c) may be implemented in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a Adaptation or Collection, at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of the Adaptation or Collection appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors. For the avoidance of doubt, You may only use the credit required by this Section for the purpose of attribution in the manner set out above and, by exercising Your rights under this License, You may not implicitly or explicitly assert or imply any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties, as appropriate, of You or Your use of the Work, without the separate, express prior written permission of the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties.

Now the $64k question:

Does making a link nofollow violate CC-BY-SA?

Do webcrawlers count as 'You' under the license?

If so, is a nofollow link preventing proper attribution if the webcrawler intentionally doesn't follow by design?

Is a nofollow link still proper attribution because that programming was a voluntary choice based on internet conventions?

Chances are there isn't precedent to cover this sort of thing. I am not a lawyer, but I'd assume that SE actually consulted with one to draw up these terms, and the lawyer figured that while there was no precedent, it's probably okay. You could send an e-mail to CC if you are super concerned, or you can ignore the SE license and cite content from SE in a 'reasonable manner' according to CC-BY-SA, and see if SE sues you or bans you for it. Chances are nothing will happen, as any damages that stemmed from you posting content without their attribution will be difficult or impossible to prove, and likely not amount to enough money to justify hiring a lawyer to file a proper lawsuit. CC may do something if you e-mail them, so that's probably your best shot if you really think this is a concern.

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Under my related question SE team argued it's reasonable to force nofollow on user-posted links, so if they will try to argue before court it is not, they may have hard time :D –  Mołot Dec 4 '13 at 15:23
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The way I see it, if making a link nofollow already violates CC-BY-SA, then there is no need for that additional clause in the Stack Exchange TOS. If it doesn't, then the clause is a bona fide additional restriction to the license, and hence they should stop using the logo. –  Federico Poloni Dec 10 '13 at 22:21
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@FedericoPoloni IANAL but the CC-BY-SA license assures that there are no further restictions. So the Stack Exchange TOS contradict the CC-BY-SA license. This would probably lead to an invalidation of the relevant Stack Exchange TOS part in my juristriction. –  Johannes Kuhn Dec 17 '13 at 13:27

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