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Who owns the copyright to S[OFU] content?

According to the second paragraph of section 3 of the Stack Exchange terms of service (the paragraph starting with "In the event that You post or otherwise use"), a user must follow the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license even for content created by that user.

While nothing in the Attribution Share Alike license prevents a copyright holder from posting his or her content elsewhere (see this question), under a different license or without attributing its source, I worry that the Stack Exchange terms of service impose this restriction.

So does that paragraph prevent someone from posting content belonging to him or her elsewhere after the fact, without attributing its source under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license? If so, then why was that paragraph included?

My intention: I intend to release some of my source code I posted here to the public domain, and I worry that the terms of service (not necessarily the Attribution Share Alike license) somehow hinder me from doing so.

  • 3
    You may find Jeff's answer to What is up with the source code license on Stack Overflow? helpful, as well as Who owns the copyright to S[OFU] content?. (I was going to start by linking to Author License exception to CC-Wiki, but I see that you just finished offering a bounty there.)
    – Pops
    Nov 16, 2012 at 22:53
  • I deleted my answer, because you're into a whole other set of legal issues that are probably best answered by an IP lawyer, not laypeople. Notwithstanding the issue you brought up, what's particularly confusing is whether you can release something to the Public Domain and still license it via CC, and if you can't, whether that violates SE's terms of service.
    – user149432
    Nov 16, 2012 at 23:30
  • @Mark Trapp: Still, if anything, this shows a potentially serious issue with Stack Exchange's terms of service in this respect. If it weren't for that paragraph, your answer probably would have applied.
    – Peter O.
    Nov 17, 2012 at 0:18
  • 2
    The ToS states that "You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license." I would think that this means that although you licence the content to SE, you are still the copyright holder and are free to license the content to others under a different license, knowing that they could also come to SE and get it under the CC license, but, if in doubt, consult a lawyer. Nov 17, 2012 at 2:20


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