With all the changes to licensing currently being discussed is it acceptable to edit my questions/answers to include a footnote.

This question/answer is provided CC0 - public domain.

I know some people are suggesting that this might be placed in a profile, but until I review all my content I don't want to blanket CC0 everything.

  • 9
    What happens if I edit it out of your answer? Or even worse edit it in. Jan 14, 2016 at 22:25
  • 7
    Would I not just revert the change, then flag for moderator attention? @ThomasBoby Jan 14, 2016 at 22:29
  • 9
    Sounds like noise. I don't want it.
    – bjb568
    Jan 14, 2016 at 22:43
  • I would point out that I have all of my code on SE licensed with the ISC license - as specified in my profile. As that linkage between me and my material on SO doesn't exist anymore anyone who had used my code under that license would have a difficult time proving that link now. Consider also that as the profile history isn't in the public record, if I was to change my profile it could make for problems. --- Neither the post nor the profile is a good way to document the license being from the author of the code when that link between the two can be trivially broken.
    – user213963
    Jan 15, 2016 at 21:48

2 Answers 2


What you're doing here is managing someone's expectations of enforcement of a license by you, the copyright holder. You're not actually changing the license under which people can get it from the site.

If you have this in your profile:

All of the code I've written and contributed to Stack Overflow is dedicated to the public domain, or (at your option) available under the terms of CC0

Then what you're doing is telling people you have positively no intention of enforcing CC-BY-SA. That's a nice thing to do, and I won't caution you not to do it, but there is a caveat.

The law would treat [your promise not to enforce the stricter license] like a gift, and gifts can be rescinded. This makes project managers nervous. If you really want to legal-proof it, then you'd have to publish the code somewhere else (e.g. one giant git repo with all your stuff in it, under the terms of CC0). As long as your code exists somewhere else, explicitly licensed under CC0, then you remove the whole gift aspect of it. Just point to that repo in your profile.

I agree that it's ridiculous, but that's .. just the way the law works. This is why in the new license scheme we've been working on, we have to ask for something in order to grant the option to not carry the MIT - or it's a gift. That works out easily because we ask for attribution.

  • 1
    An addendum to this - many repository gatekeepers would be just fine with the note in your profile because people like trusting other people. Many users on SO have been using a similar note for years without all the legal proofing. It's a decision you as the creator of your stuff should make - and then not worry much about. Our legal system, such as it is when it comes to anything copyright, is profoundly and utterly bat-s**t insane.
    – user50049
    Jan 15, 2016 at 5:41
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    Citation for "gifts can be rescinded", please? Why would CC0 be any more revocable than CC-BY-SA 3.0? Jan 15, 2016 at 6:30
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    @200_success The gift part refers to adding a license in your user profile as far as I understood it, not to the particular license. Jan 15, 2016 at 8:17
  • I like the way you explain this, its just my personal enforcement. If I change nothing, individual users can decide if they want to put attribution or not and I don't have to do anything. If I have no plans to enforce attribution. Jan 15, 2016 at 11:47
  • Could you add some more detail about this part "This is why in the new license scheme we've been working on, we have to ask for something in order to grant the option to not carry the MIT - or it's a gift. That works out easily because we ask for attribution." what "something" are we asking for? Jan 15, 2016 at 11:51
  • @AshleyMedway Attribution. In that scheme (which we're rebooting) we grant you the ability not to carry the MIT license if you provide a link back to the post where you found the code. The attribution itself is "tap for tip (or tat-for-tit depending upon what century you were born)"
    – user50049
    Jan 17, 2016 at 4:34
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    Okay this is starting to make more sense, I have been a big opposer of the license change. Not because it wrong and not because I am one of the people that doesn't understand that attribution is already required. Simply because it hasn't been explained what the changes will be. This and some other posts have really started to clear up this whole MIT issue. Additionally I am happy to help with future posts about licensing changes. I think if it can be explained to me, as someone who just understands the current license, it can be explained to anyone. Jan 17, 2016 at 8:34
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    P.S. Tit-for-tat in the uk is more like, if you've been nasty to me then I'll be nasty to you. Not you've been helpful so I'll give you respect (attribution). Jan 17, 2016 at 8:35
  • @TimPost, "What you're doing here is managing someone's expectations of enforcement of a license by you." No. In the example given, the OP has only said anything about their licensing policy, and has said absolutely nothing about their intended enforcement policy. What the OP is doing in that example is licensing the affected content under CC0 (and, in the current context of SE, thereby implicitly dual-licensing that content).
    – user136089
    Jan 17, 2016 at 16:54
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    @sampablokuper I think there is an issue. What happens if I put a notice dual licensing under CC0 in my profile, someone takes the content under that, uses it, and then I change the notice to CC BY and Apache 2.0. Once you get the work, you have it under the license that you received it under. But how can anyone say if it was obtained under CC0 or CC BY/Apache 2.0? I don't know who has the burden of proof, but the thought of getting dragged into something like that wouldn't give me confidence in what people put in the profile. (1/2) Jan 17, 2016 at 17:16
  • I don't know if it's OK to include the license in the post or not. It could get very verbose, depending on the license. But if you have something like a GitHub project, or even a GitHub Gist, there's a record as to what the license was on a given date and time and license changes would be obvious to anyone who looks at the history. I think the intention here is that it's just less of a headache for everyone involved if you took what's in someone's profile with a grain of salt. (2/2) Jan 17, 2016 at 17:18
  • @ThomasOwens, "What happens if I put a notice dual licensing under CC0 in my profile" That's not what the OP asked. The OP asked about putting a license notice in a question or answer. Those have edit histories, enabling cases of licensor remorse to be resolved. Otherwise, the licensee would have to convince the court in a different way they had obtained the work under the relevant license. Maybe via the Wayback Machine?
    – user136089
    Jan 17, 2016 at 17:40
  • @sampablokuper This particular answer is about including the content in a profile, though. It should be OK to put something in a question or answer, especially something short like the CC0 (where the full waiver is 2 or 3 lines, at most). I wouldn't recommend putting the full text of something like the GPL, Apache, or one of the other CC licenses in your post - that would be too noisy. Even the shorter MIT or BSD licenses would be close to 20 lines after posting on Stack Exchange. Jan 17, 2016 at 17:56
  • @ThomasOwens, "This particular answer is about including the content in a profile, though." Not the parts that I was addressing.
    – user136089
    Jan 17, 2016 at 18:03
  • If i use your All the code I've written ....CC0, should I also include <sub>This of course doesn't include code which I posted without being its owner (you can distinguish that code by the attribution notices).</sub> to make it more clear? or is it redundant?
    – user
    May 18, 2016 at 8:15

Yes, you can.

The recommended wording and markup are slightly different than those you gave, but not substantially. However, that markup does not embed well into Stack Exchange Markdown for some reason.

Here's the closest compromise I could assemble:

Public Domain (CC0). To the extent possible under law, Ashley Medway has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to the entire content of this [question/answer].

The relevant content would then be dual-licensed under CC0 and the default Stack Exchange content license (currently CC-BY-SA 3.0).

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