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I want to start a project, Scheme Cookbook, with a better license because an old cookbook, that is no longer available online, was licensed under LGPL, which requires the inclusion of the license with any use of the recipes.

How exactly does the license work on Stack Overflow (and other Stack Exchange sites)? I was reading the license and the terms of service (TOS), but I'm not exactly sure if I understand. The text is difficult to understand (especially since English is not my native language). From what I do understand, the license protects the case where someone wants to create a clone of Stack Overflow and the TOS says that the user can only do that for non-commercial or personal projects. Did I understand it right?

Can I take code snippets (not that many) for the Scheme language and license it with a different license like CC0 or do I need to license them with CC-BY-SA?

Is this a good place to ask this? Or should I ask on Law Stack Exchange?

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  • (What is a "Cookbook" in this context? E.g., is it more than a document?) – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q May 28 at 7:59
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    @P.Mort.-forgotClayShirky_q like any programming language cookbook like Python Cookbook, you have a site that shows problems and how to solve them with code. – jcubic May 28 at 10:54
  • The CC BY-SA summary info is available in many languages: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 and so is the actual license: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode It's a Good Idea to try to understand the summary. It may be difficult to fully understand the actual license if you aren't a lawyer... – PM 2Ring May 28 at 17:32
  • @PM2Ring you're right but StackOverflow don't use just the license it's combined with Term of Service. – jcubic May 29 at 14:00
  • @jcubic That's true. The ToS covers what Stack Overflow can do with the content we submit, and what we can & can't do with it after it's submitted. But the license applies to anyone who wants to use our content, including Stack Overflow itself. You mentioned you're not a native English speaker, so I pointed out that the license texts are available in many languages. It's important for us to understand that license since we're publishing content under it. It's even more important to understand it if we want to re-use the content posted by others, and that includes stuff we copy & paste here. – PM 2Ring May 29 at 14:47
  • You don't have to include the license text with every code snippet here, but you have to list all the places where you took code snippets from (see attribution requirements, usually there is some sort of leeway for convenience). In a printed book for example I guess that a long register at the end would also suffice. But better ask a lawyer before doing it. The license of your work has to be compatible with the used license here. Please note that licenses have versions and the content here is under different versions of CC-BY-SA, but they are all upwards compatible. – Trilarion Jun 2 at 12:11
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Is this a good place to ask this? Or should I ask on https://law.stackexchange.com/?

Either's fine, I think. I frequent both, so I'll take a crack at it.

From what I understand, the license is protection when someone will want to create a clone of Stack Overflow and the TOS says that the user can only do that for non-commercial or personal projects. Did I understand it right?

No, not quite. You might be thinking of a license like CC BY-NC, which restricts commercial use. Stack Exchange uses CC BY-SA, which allows commercial use. In fact, that's the only license Stack Exchange itself has to the content, and it's commercial.

Can I take code snippets (not that many) for the Scheme language and license it with a different license like CC0 or do I need to license them with CC-BY-SA?

No, you'll have to use CC BY-SA. That's the SA part: "ShareAlike." It means that, in their words, "[i]f you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original." In other words, you must distribute the code (including any changes you make to it) under the same CC BY-SA license. You can't relicense it to CC0 or any other license. You also need to give appropriate credit, the details of which vary based on the version of the license. As the licensing page notes, the version used depends on when the content was posted.

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  • I was confused because the license is restricted by the Term of Service and it explicitly says about Subscribe Content and that you can't use it for commercial purposes. – jcubic May 28 at 10:52
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    @jcubic You've misread that sentence. It says that (emphasis added) "Any other downloading, copying, or storing of any public Network Content (other than Subscriber Content or content made available via the Stack Overflow API) for other than personal, noncommercial use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from Stack Overflow or from the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice per the Creative Commons License." So it applies to everything except subscriber content and other content available via the API. – Ryan M May 28 at 10:55

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