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I read the blog post "Attribution Required" by Jeff Atwood. As I understand the post, SE "require[s]" that reusers "Hyperlink directly to the original question", that reusers "Hyperlink each author name", that users use "standard HTML", and that "the links must not be nofollowed." Taken literally, this would mean that republishing substantial portions of a question or answer in any medium other than the web would infringe copyright, as would republishing in web environments that forbid hyperlinks to SE sites. It would end up ruling out substantial quoting in the following situations:

  • Print, because hyperlinks are impossible. URLs may be printed, but that's like using nofollow.
  • Sites like Everything2, because external hyperlinks are disabled as a spam control measure. URLs may be posted as text, but that's like using nofollow.
  • Several web sites' comment systems, because external hyperlinks are disabled as a spam control measure. They reject any post that contains text that looks like a URL.

What did I misunderstand? Or did SE intend to forbid quoting questions and answers outside the web when it set the attribution policy?

  • +1 as I'm curious, but I doubt I would ever need an answer. – psubsee2003 Feb 15 '14 at 20:14
  • However, I believe the intent of the license is to ensure that users and their work receive is attribution, so as long as you are following the intent of the license, you probably will be ok (however, IANAL, so take this as just my 2 cents). – psubsee2003 Feb 15 '14 at 20:16
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    @LowerClassOverflowian the lawyers don't but generally other legal posts that warrant an "official" response will come from jaydles – psubsee2003 Feb 15 '14 at 20:18
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    Who needs lawyers when Jaydles is the law @psubsee2003 ;) – Bart Feb 15 '14 at 20:26
  • The blog post as well as the ToS miss an important requirement (namely, that you also have to reference the license), and try to enforce additional requirements that can’t be enforced according to CC BY-SA 3.0 (see a Meta discussion about the latter). – unor Oct 18 '14 at 20:42
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If you read the Subscriber Content section in the Terms of Service the part of the attribution requirements that you're questioning is solely when the content is used on the internet; you obviously can't add a working hyperlink on paper.

In the event that You post or otherwise use Subscriber Content outside of the Network or Services [...]

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 [...]

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., https://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 [...]

(my emphasis)

IANAL. But, if you were to write something like the following I don't see how it would infringe the licence:

As tepple's (https://meta.stackoverflow.com/users/229356/tepples) wrote in "Attribution Required for non-web media" (http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/221310/179419) on Meta Stack Overflow (part of the Stack Exchange network)

blah blah...

The requirement would also be satisfied with footnotes, or more formal references.

| improve this answer | |
  • Printing the URL from the share button satisfies me for print. But use on a web site that bans external hyperlinks in user-created posts is still technically "Internet use". – Damian Yerrick Feb 15 '14 at 20:44
  • Yes @tepples, and I have no concrete answer for that part of your post, save that it would be unreasonable to punish people for following the licence exactly (it only specifies that a URI must be included) but not the ToS where the medium forbids you from doing so. – ben is uǝq backwards Feb 15 '14 at 20:47

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