A lot of people are unaware of license terms that apply to code pieces posted on Stack Overflow or the internet in general. This is from my own experience but is also stated in a paper here. And some people intend to publish their code in a more permissive way.

It would be nice to have an option when posting code to explicitly choose the license or at least show below the code embeddings a link to the CC BY-SA license. Sure, there is a small written hint in the footer of the Stack Exchange sites, but most people don't read small things in the footer.

  • You never lose copyright over your own code, and you're 'free' to use your code under any licence you wish - just that someone using code from here needs to respect the CC version the post is under.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Sep 5 at 14:54
  • 3
    @Journeyman yes, but the issue raised here, correctly, is that people are just unaware of that. Was sure something like this was raised before, but can't find. (Maybe deleted.) Sep 5 at 15:13
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    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/380881/334566 As I said there, Creative Commons recommend against using CC licenses for software. However, SO is not intended to be a code distribution system. Answers on SO (& other SE sites) are more like a form of documentation (which may happen to contain example code), which is why the CC license is considered to be appropriate. This isn't necessarily ideal...
    – PM 2Ring
    Sep 5 at 15:34
  • @JourneymanGeek Some people for example override the license applying to their posted code examples in their profile (with override I mean dual license because the CC version always applies). But having to state that in your profile or some comment seems more of a hack. The other issue as described is that if the author doesn't "override" it, the default CC license applies as usual, but in any case the actual license should be shown more prominently e.g. below the code excerpt because most people are unware of license restrictions.
    – Sam
    Sep 5 at 15:40
  • Of course, the license terms apply to everything posted on the network, not just code. Lots of material gets copied to & from here without proper attribution. Don't kids get taught about this stuff in school?
    – PM 2Ring
    Sep 5 at 15:40
  • @PM2Ring Thats what I try to address with my "feature request". Most people do not know this. Neither the authors nor the readers.
    – Sam
    Sep 5 at 15:44
  • 2
    Titbit: There's a link to CC BY-SA licence when you click Share button under a post. Sep 5 at 17:23
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    Copyright and licenses for code/text apply to everything, almost everywhere. There's nothing all that special about Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange from a licensing perspective, other than that SO/SE makes what license applies (by default) actually fairly clear, way clearer than on most/many sites, by linking to the primary license at the bottom of every page and explicitly stating/linking to the applicable license version in the "share" popup and to each version in the post's timeline. Such licenses on most/many sites are, primarily, located in the Terms of Service, if available at all.
    – Makyen
    Sep 5 at 18:21
  • At this point, SO/SE actually does a good job of indicating which license applies under most conditions. There's room for improvement, but a lot of your issue is that readers don't have a basic understanding of how licensing/copyright works. It's not clear to me that it's SO/SE's job to explain that, or that it's reasonable to ask SO/SE to take on the liability inherent in providing such an explanation to a worldwide audience. Copyright and licensing is a very messy area of law when looked at from a global perspective.
    – Makyen
    Sep 5 at 18:21
  • That doesn't mean it wouldn't be "nice" to have an integrated way for users to indicate an additional license which they want to grant to their code. That's really a "nice to have", but there's already ways for people to do it, for the relatively low percentage of people that both think about it and want to apply another license. All that's really required is for the author to clearly indicate it in some way. For example: a note in their "about me" in their profile; a note in the post (potentially as a comment in the code); etc. [A comment under the post would be a poor choice].
    – Makyen
    Sep 5 at 18:22


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