Please read the whole post, this is relevant.

I have been pondering the idea of writing a book for kids and/or people new to programming.

I would post questions on SO and use the answer(s) in the book. I'm not planning on getting rich from this, but after my costs are covered, who should get the money?

  • Would this be the bulk of the book? Or these interactions sprinkled all about? Jul 1, 2009 at 16:56
  • Sounds like Pogue's "World According to Twitter" Book. For the record, none of the people he asked questions to on Twitter will be seeing any cash :)
    – Sampson
    Jul 1, 2009 at 17:04
    – user1228
    Jul 1, 2009 at 17:19
  • Perhaps you could show proper documentation for all the costs incurred in producing and selling this book. After that, you could show the sales of the books. Anything earned after break-even could then be transferred to this noble website. I am not sure if this is too simplistic. But it might be one way of doing what you want. Feb 1, 2014 at 16:54

4 Answers 4


Check out this FAQ item from the CC site.

Here's a snippet, please read the entire thing.

Can I still make money from a work I make available under a Creative Commons licenses?

Absolutely. Firstly, because our licenses are non-exclusive which means you are not tied down to only make a piece of your content available under a Creative Commons license; you can also enter into other revenue-generating licenses in relation to your work. One of our central goals is to encourage people to experiment with new ways to promote and market their work.

Secondly, the noncommercial license option is an inventive tool designed to allow people to maximize the distribution of their works while keeping control of the commercial aspects of their copyright.

So as long as the license is not under a "non commercial" license option. Which I believe the SO license is under.


Assuming this is a serious question, you should keep the money you earn. Otherwise, you could try tracking down the individual users whose content you're including, but this is not necessary to be able to publish it - just make sure you follow the terms of the Creative Commons 2.5 license and properly attribute your content. You'll also have to license your book under Creative Commons as well.

  • Does the CC license used here allow for profits to be made, though? Really, the only answer is to check with an intellectual property lawyer. Jul 1, 2009 at 17:00
  • Oh yes - I wasn't going to pay individuals. I was thinking more of a charitable donation. Jul 1, 2009 at 17:04
  • Maybe you could buy some adspace on SO for your favorite open source projects then? That would benefit both SO and those projects. Jul 1, 2009 at 17:12
  • @Thomas: I've looked over the 'real' license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/legalcode) and I don't see any restriction regarding commercial redistribution, but in any case you should always get a lawyer to make sure you've dotted your i's and crossed your t's in cases like these. Jul 1, 2009 at 17:13
  • 1
    @Kyle Maybe an ad for the book? Or would that be too meta :) Jul 1, 2009 at 21:20
  • That could work :) Jul 1, 2009 at 21:36

I think you would have to release your book under the Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution-Share Alike License. This is why:

Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

A book is a transformation (from digital to physical), I think.

However, I still think you MIGHT be able to sell your book. The Cathedral and The Bazaar is a book that is published, but also distributed under a free license.

I would consult a lawyer.

  • A PDF would be made freely available, any revenue would come from selling print copies. On createspace.com or such-like. Jul 1, 2009 at 17:07

David Pogue of the New York Times did something similar to this: "The World According to Twitter." I'm following him (@Pogue), and recall getting 10+ questions a day from him. He would ask his followers to rewrite a popular pun, or answer a question a particular way, and he would then pick from the responses which ones to include in his book.

I don't expect to see any money going to the twitter'er'er's who provided the content :) They weren't completely left un-awarded though. Here's Pogue's page for them: http://davidpogue.com/bio_photos/twitter_authors.html

That being said - I don't see anything wrong with taking the material, formatting it, organizing it, and selling your work.

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