The SE questions/answers are under the CC BY-SA license (ref).

Does it also include the beta sites that are still in the private stage?

--> If yes, isn't there a contradiction between this license and the access restriction? By restriction, I mean that the website is not public, you need to sign in to SE to join the private beta. The CC BY-SA says "You are free to share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format". Does this include non-public distribution?

--> If not, is the question/ answer content fully lost when a private beta is closed?

  • I'm not quite sure what you mean by access restriction - anyone can join.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:18
  • 1
    TAhnks @Catjia, I've just edited my question. By restriction, I mean that the website is not public, you need to login to join the private beta.
    – Noil
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:30
  • 6
    @Noil what is it about requiring a login that you think makes it not public? There's nothing stopping you sharing outside the beta if you wish to do so. Jun 30, 2022 at 15:41
  • 1
    I understand "public" as "I can come in without any restriction" (e.g. without having to create an account), but maybe I'm wrong!
    – Noil
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:46
  • 2
    After closure the data dumps are available without logging in.
    – Mast
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:48
  • 1
    The private beta only lasts 2 weeks.
    – Mast
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:53
  • 3
    Public absolutely does not mean "without restriction". Drop that idea and this becomes a moot question.
    – Nij
    Jun 30, 2022 at 19:37

2 Answers 2


Sharing CC-licensed material on password-protected sites & communities is explicitly clarified as allowed by CC's FAQ page:

Can I share CC-licensed material on password-protected sites?

Yes. This is not considered to be a prohibited measure, so long as the protection is merely limiting who may access the content, and does not restrict the authorized recipients from exercising the licensed rights. For example, you may post material under any CC license on a site restricted to members of a certain school, or to paying customers, but you may not place effective technological measures (including DRM) on the files that prevents them from sharing the material elsewhere.

CC BY-SA 4.0 simply specifies that the licensed content can be and must be allowed to be shared and adapted without legal or technological roadblocks in the way (e.g. you can't use DRM to restrict access). It does not mandate that all usages of the content must be publicly-accessible.


Does it also include the beta sites that are still in the private stage?

Yes, they are licensed under CC-BY-SA. If you go to the timeline page for a post you can even see the current license version:

Circles around text reading "CC-BY-SA 4.0"

The CC BY-SA says "You are free to share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format". Including not public?

What you can do

You can share CC-BY-SA licensed content in a non-public matter. For instance, you could post a copy of any Stack Exchange post on a private corporate intranet, print a book with your favorite questions and give it to your friends (and several people have done this), etc.

If you wanted to, you could (assuming you comply with the attribution and sharealike requirements) create a site that mirrors the content of a private beta site. It wouldn't accomplish much, since the sites aren't very private anyways — anyone can see the content on a private beta site by creating an account.

License grant

Note that that the quote in your question isn't from the license itself, but the human-readable summary, which is not a substitute for the license. The actual license text should be consulted for understanding what exactly you can and can't do. The grant of license is:

Subject to the terms and conditions of this Public License, the Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-sublicensable, non-exclusive, irrevocable license to exercise the Licensed Rights in the Licensed Material to:

A. reproduce and Share the Licensed Material, in whole or in part;

B. produce, reproduce, and Share Adapted Material.

There are no restrictions in that section—or anywhere else in the license—that disallow private sharing.

A note on DRM

Perhaps you think sections 2(a)(5)(C) and 3(b)(3) disallow private redistribution? The "restrictions" disallowed in those section are referring to Effective Technological Measures, not non-public distribution: essentially, it would disallow you from modifying SE content and then sharing it (publicly or privately) but using DRM (digital restrictions management) to try to prevent people from resharing your modified version. But assuming you don't use DRM to restrict access to your redistributed SE content (I can't imagine why you would want to do that), those sections aren't relevant.

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