There was a question asking about CC BY-SA 3.0's requirement to remove attribute on request. It was brought up that automatic archives may still preserve historical information, including attribution information. Two comments to an answer on that question were of particular interest:

"We publish data dumps of all the visible content on our sites. This is historical content and we cannot modify previous data dumps to also remove your name in those places." I'm interested to know how that aspect of the policy is compliant with CC. – fabspro Mar 20 at 10:19

@fabspro You should start by asking a new question about that. Most likely, there is a good answer that satisfies the CC license, while still allowing for historical archives. I would also be interested in an answer from a knowledgeable source. – JonathanDavidArndt May 14 at 14:56

Since it seems the question was never asked, I'm asking it here. How are historical archives made compatible with the license the content is under, since the license requires attribution be removed upon request?

1 Answer 1


CC BY-SA has some language that limits the extent of the removal "to the extent practical":

Licensors may request removal of attribution

In the 4.0 licenses, a user must remove attribution from a work at the creator's request to the extent it is reasonably practicable to do so. This is true whether the work is modified or unmodified.

All license versions after version 1.0 require attribution. However, legislation in many countries gives authors the right to control the use of their name in association with their works. Therefore, CC licenses require licensees to remove attribution to the creator at his or her request, where it would otherwise be required to include it. In 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0, credit must be removed from adaptations and collections, to the extent practicable, at the creator’s request. In 4.0, the creator may also request removal of credit from the unmodified work.

It could be argued that modifying all the backups to remove attribution is simply not practical, and I think I'd tend to agree with that argument.

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    In other words, if it is possible to do it ("practicable"), it must be done - therefore the archived content must be altered to remove the attribution? It's not as if the licence is saying "practical without too much effort or cost"...
    – fabspro
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 12:17
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    @fabspro, that's one for a lawyer to argue. I will point out that these are the thesaurus entries for "practicable": realistic, feasible, possible, within the bounds/realms of possibility, viable, reasonable, sensible, workable, achievable; (informal) doable.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 20:02
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    Also, data dumps are stored on servers operated by Internet Archive, not SE, so SE can argue that it has no control of the dump as it's stored on a server that they don't own. Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 20:47

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