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I would like to use key CSS on a website of my own, but it is my understanding that a site's CSS is implicitly copyrighted.

Is there any way for me to either

  • Write my own CSS inspired by Stack Exchange's <kbd> CSS without violating the copyright,

or

  • Use SE's styling and give credit to them on my site?
  • 2
    Not a lawyer, but if my understanding is correct, if you were to write your own CSS by yourself (i.e. you don't copy it), copyright is no longer an issue. If however you then create something which looks exactly the same you may infringe upon a trademark. I would guess that doesn't really apply to the KBD tag, but rather to company logos and such. But that's where the IANAL kicks in. – Bart Jul 8 '15 at 14:16
  • Phoenix managed to legally get away with clean-room reverse-engineering the entire IBM BIOS of the time (80s). That is, they had a team that disassembled the BIOS code and recorded detailed functional specifications, and a wholly separate team that took those specifications and wrote a working drop-in replacement without ever seeing the original code. It would seem likely that a similar principle should generally apply, barring specific agreements to the contrary or special cases like trademarks. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 8 '15 at 15:54
  • @Bart <kbd> tag is W3C property rt? – HackerKarma Jul 8 '15 at 15:54
  • @NathanTuggy that's an interesting story... thanks for sharing... I Googled and found computerworld.com/article/2585652/app-development/… – HackerKarma Jul 8 '15 at 16:00
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    I should have phrased that as "the visual styling of the KBD tag" @HackerKarma. – Bart Jul 8 '15 at 16:23
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    @Bart that proves you are not a lawyer, they phrase everything spot-on the first time... – rene Jul 8 '15 at 17:31
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    as if you needed proof of that fact @rene ;) – Bart Jul 8 '15 at 20:23
7

Is StackExchange's styling copyrighted?

Yes it is.


All the content contributed to Stack Overflow or other Stack Exchange sites is cc-wiki (aka cc-by-sa) licensed, intended to be shared and remixed. We even provide all our data as a convenient data dump, seeded by us.

But our cc-wiki licensing, while intentionally permissive, does require attribution.

That means the stuff that users post, not the design of the site. Have a look at the footer:

This shows that SE have the copyright on the design, including the kbd tags design, so we would need to wait for them to ask.

The bit that the quote refers to is the user contributions, not what they design.

4

As far as my knowledge goes, technically, everything is copyrighted or has sort of copyright attachment to it even if they are allowing it under a permissive license such as GPL, CC, etc...

As for the key CSS styling goes, I (I'm not a lawyer, but just my thoughts) don't think it will be an issue if you write your own custom CSS. You CSS code should look different and that means the output rendered will look different too. So no issue there.

But if you want to use SE's code, then I would recommend reading all of the information(including sub-links within) given in Jeff's post. I would also suggest you reading the Stack Exchange Network Terms of Service. Look for any "Exclusive Copyright" or "All Rights Reserved" related stuff. If exists, then you must adhere those terms and conditions. Also, if a copyright issue occurs, usually the original copyright holder i.e. Stack Exchange, Inc. will send a DMCA takedown notice to you.

For additional references, even though they not exactly related to the CSS styling copyright, I would suggest reading the answer (and comments too) for Who owns the copyright to S[OFU] content?. It's worth and contains lots of good information related to Copyright material. Also, here is what Jeff Atwood says (as for the contributed content goes): Source: Attribution Required

All the content contributed to Stack Overflow or other Stack Exchange sites is cc-wiki (aka cc-by-sa) licensed, intended to be shared and remixed. We even provide all our data as a convenient data dump, seeded by us.

But our cc-wiki licensing, while intentionally permissive, does require attribution.

  • Tim not completely wrong as you can see I have covered many other points in there. Thanks for clarification Jeff's excerpt. – HackerKarma Jul 8 '15 at 17:01

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