All the content in Stack Overflow and other Stack Exchange (even this question) is under Creative Commons BY-SA, with the license version dependent on the date it was published.

If you are asking questions about how to use software or about your business processes, and need to share screenshots or examples of your work to ask your question, how do you retain copyright (or your company's copyright)? (Thinking about communities like Photography, Stack Overflow, Blender, etc...).

Is watermarking allowed? Can I add copyright disclaimer at the end of my question? Or just more safely, not ask the question at all?

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    We must have questions about this before. But in short, if the copyrighted content is limited to what is absolutely necessary, then it can usually be quoted under fair use. Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 1:04
  • 2
    Just to add a bit of clarity, fair use depends on the jurisdiction that you live in.
    – W.O.
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 2:26
  • @curiousdannii so one would give credit? What should one write exactly? Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 4:27
  • 1
    As Trilarion says, you automatically retain copyright on all material you publish under the CC-BY-SA license. Conversely, you must not publish any material that you do not have permission to copy, and any material created by others that you post must have adequate attribution, and it should be clear to readers that you are quoting someone else's work, eg put the material in a quote block. If you want to post material that's copyrighted by your employer, please ensure that you have their explicit permission to do so.
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 11:37
  • does this help? law.stackexchange.com/questions/64062/…. Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 13:12
  • IANAL, but copyright does not simply prohibit all copying. There is still "fair use". So, quoting part of a work, to talk about or critique it, is usually OK. Again, IANAL.
    – Raedwald
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 8:31

1 Answer 1


You retain the copyright of the code and material that you publish on the Stack Exchange sites. You only license it under the CC-BY-SA license (version 4.0 currently) to everyone in the world. No disclaimer or watermark will change that. If you do not agree with it, you cannot ask and should instead seek answers elsewhere (within your organization, paid consulting, etc.).

The content stored in the Stack Exchange sites is supposed to be a public knowledge library. The knowledge is also partly in the questions. Limiting its spread beyond the CC's license requirements would make the knowledge less accessible.

You could put part of a question on an external site and only link to it. That way this content would not be covered by the license (and add watermarks and disclaimers there), but be aware that questions must be on-topic without considering any linked content, i.e. you would have to describe all relevant linked external content in the question here. In general, the question text that is hosted here would need to be sufficient to answer the question, and the linked content would only be useful for illustration purposes. (Exceptions to that may apply for Stack Exchange sites like Photography that rely on visual content, and they may have special rules, but they may still require that the image content be available on Imgur under the CC license for example. Ask at their meta for their special rules.)

You could also try to generalize your question and remove as much of the secret content as possible. For example, you could create mock-up visual content just for the purpose of asking here.

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    You could also try to generalize your question - that is exactly what I do to avoid posting anything im worried about sharing. Commented May 9, 2021 at 12:21

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