If a site uses content originating from a Stack Exchange site, is the user who owns the content legally permitted to make his post "native" to the non-SE site?

Here's what I mean. Some non-Stack Exchange site uses a post originating from an SE site, with all required attribution. The post was posted on SE by user X. If user X registers on the non-SE site, is the user allowed to remove the attribution and make it native to that site?

It should be, because it is the user's original content, but I just wanted to verify that this is legal.


2 Answers 2


My iamnotalawyer understanding is that, yes, user X could remove the original attribution on the non-Stack Exchange site.

When an author creates any work in the first place, the act of posting it on SE grants a license to that work under CC BY-SA 3.0. The original author still can choose to use that work elsewhere and issue a different license to that same work as generally, their copyright or other moral rights are still reserved. (With the disclaimer that each locality has different interpretations of what a work for hire and what creations can even be protected by licenses.)

In almost all societies, Licensing a work under the SE/CC terms doesn't necessarily change an author's ability to reuse/relicense subsequent uses of that work - including copyright enforcement if the terms of the CC license are violated.

The original creator could still take their work and use it in some other way. For example, they may have applied a no-commercial CC licence to the work, but they could still separately sell that work to another party. They could choose to allow that third party to sell it on.

More concretely, you could publish Flickr photos with non-commercial licences, but still sell a photo to a newspaper, or offer it to a photo agency to sell on to newspapers and so on.

  • 2
    You are quite correct. What makes biggest difference is that it is created on the user's personal computer first, only then submitted. If something is created on company's computer, in employee's paid time, then employer may have some rights to it. And that's pretty much the only exception to the "you created, you can redistribute as you wish, until you sell that right too" rule.
    – Mołot
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 6:44
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    Oh, one more important note: this does not apply to edits made by others, you can do so only for the revisions before anyone else contributed!
    – Mołot
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 11:07
  • 7
    @Mołot: ...assuming that the contributions are substantial enough to be eligible for copyright, that is. Merely correcting a typo or two is not sufficiently original to create a separate copyright claim. Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 12:47

According to Jaydies, VP of Community Growth, authors are explicitly free to do whatever they want with their content without attributing it back to Stack Exchange:

Philosophy: Your content is yours.

You give up one big thing by posting it here: Your right to stop us (and others who see it here) from sharing it with others who can be helped by it, provided they include the required attribution.

Posting your content here should not in any way restrict your rights to use or post it yourself.

To be clear, we did not intend to apply wacky requirements that you link back to us when you post your own content that you generously shared with the world on our site.