I noticed that the contents of StackOverflow has the following license which does not explicitly state that content cannot be used for commercial purposes:

cc-wiki / Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/

While the Stackoverflow blog has a simliar license but is explicitly "non commercial":

Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

The explanation page for the license of Stackoverflow content does not explicitly state that the contents of Stackoverflow may be used for commercial purposes.

Can one interpret from this that the content of the StackOverflow site can be used in books that are sold and taught in lessons for which money is charged, as long as attribution is given?

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3 Answers

If commercial use was prohibited, it would be by-sa-nc where the nc means "non-commercial".

However it is important you follow our rules of attribution. A copy of these rules is included with every data dump and linked at the bottom of every page.

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Yes, as long as you attribute according to the requirements of Stack Overflow Internet Services, Inc, and share-alike is followed, which means, roughly*:

  • If the content makes up the majority of the book, the whole book must be CC-BY-SA
  • If the content makes up examples, and examples only, all examples must be CC-BY-SA

* N.B. I am not a lawyer, but this is my understanding of the license. It would be best to consult with one before writing the book, unless you 100% intend to release under CC-BY-SA

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If you look at the page listing all the licenses: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ you see that three of them specifically exclude commercial use. I would take it to mean that the others allow it. Therefore the stackoverflow content is available for lessons where money is charged and the blog content isn't.

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