Last month I asked a question on Arqade about the luck-based Mario Party 2 minigame "Day at the Races". I wanted to know if each of the 4 selectable racers had an equal chance of winning.

A few days after posting my question, I came across a Pastebin post from 2015 which documented the odds for Day at the Races in exhaustive detail, using memory analysis and savestates to study the results over 130,000 iterations.

I asked the original author on Twitter if I could repost his answer on Arqade, but was told:

Feel free to link the pastebin.

I know I should avoid posting a link-only answer by summarizing the original post, but the answer's complexity makes this a bit difficult without quoting large portions of the linked post.

What should I do when I find the answer to a question online, but I don't have the author's permission to repost their findings?

  • 9
    Just an FYI, from their footer: "user contributions (pastes) licensed under cc by-sa 3.0" - you don't need their permission. All of the content is already licensed under the same license Stack Exchange uses. Just provide proper attribution.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jan 3 '18 at 19:09
  • 7
    "Link the pastebin" to me doesn't exclude including some of the text in the answer directly.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jan 3 '18 at 19:37
  • "Typically the solution would be to avoid a link-only answer" - You should still do that. Provide the relevant information. Use the link as context to your own original content.
    – Ramhound
    Jan 3 '18 at 22:02

In this particular case, as animunson pointed out in a comment, content in Pastebin pastes is licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0, the same license that Stack Exchange posts are covered by. So from a legal perspective, you already have the author's permission to copy any amount of the content into an answer here.

But suppose you had asked about something which you actually didn't have permission to reproduce. In that case, you could still answer the question; just don't quote or copy any of the text of the external source. It's (nearly?) always possible to write an answer that doesn't quote an external source. You can still use the ideas contained within it, since copyright doesn't protect ideas in the US.

Actually, quoting small portions of the text should be legally defensible as a "fair use", but I don't think it's ever necessary to do so, so if you want to be careful you can certainly avoid that risk.

You may have moral objections to writing an answer based on an external source without having permission from the source's author, but if so, that's entirely up to you to figure out.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .