1

The SE TOS defines "Subscriber Content" as:

any and all content, including without limitation any and all text, graphics, logos, tools, photographs, images, illustrations, software or source code, audio and video, animations, and product feedback (collectively, “Content”) that you provide to the public Network (collectively, “Subscriber Content”)

My question is: Does this only include content that is directly posted to an SE site, or does it also include content where only a URL to the content is posted?

This might be a silly question, and my gut feeling is that linked content doesn't count as Subscriber Content, but I want to make sure, as it could conceivably fall under "content ... that you provide to the public Network".

The only exception I can think of that might be the case is if a link to an image is posted (rather than the image itself) but the image was uploaded to stack.imgur.com. This seems like it would still count as Subscriber Content, given the host.


As an example, I once created content specifically for an SO post but I only posted a GitHub link to the content, rather than the content itself. I licensed the content under the Clear BSD license. Does this project now count as "Subscriber Content" because it was designed specifically for the post and I "[provided it] to the public Network"? Or does it avoid the TOS' CC-BY-SA licensing terms since it was only a URL?

(Note: My purpose of posting the GitHub link in that example wasn't to avoid the TOS. I do not desire to do that. It was just because it was the only feasible option. That entire Q&A is rather unusual and isn't typical for SO.)

5
  • 2
    To be really sure you need to contact a lawyer, but linked contact is not provided as such. I could link to google.com but still do not deliver google to you. Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 14:26
  • Makes sense, thanks; I just asked directly via the Contact Us link, if I get an answer I'll post it back here. I guess my confusion is in the "content provided to the public Network" wording re: content that is specifically designed for an SE post.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 14:31
  • 1
    "content provided to the public Network" Is all the text that you type into these input boxes but nothing more. Please note that there is a difference for example between a car and an image of a car. The same way there is a difference between the text of an address of a link and the content of the link. Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:15
  • That seems really reasonable, thanks.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:50
  • 1
    @NoDataDumpNoContribution I'd expect a reasonable interpretation would be more expansive than just text. IMO, the interpretation would be [entire ToS quote in the question]. To me that means anything you give directly to the network and/or which you upload to spaces which the network provides the interface for you to do so (e.g., images you upload to SE's Imgur through the post editing interface). In other words, specifically not just text. But, wouldn't include resources merely referenced by URL, unless you used the URL to upload to space provided through the SE interface.
    – Makyen
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 17:09

3 Answers 3

6

It's not part of the TOS of the site overall, but rather a community policy that SE Q&A needs to be self-contained. It's fine to reference outside sources, but if understanding your post requires outside content to understand, it's against community standards. It sounds like maybe you are trying to avoid providing content under the terms here by linking to it; that won't be acceptable. You'll have to distill your question or answer into something that can be shared here.

I'm not a lawyer, and you should rely on a lawyer's advice rather than mine if you're trying to protect some content in a specific case, but it seems silly and completely unenforceable to expect that anything linked in a post implies that the person linking it has ownership of it and is providing a license for it. It's common on sites I frequent to reference scientific papers; no one would ever assume that implies the post author owns that content and is providing it under CC-BY-SA terms. It's just referenced. If you link to the documentation for some software, that documentation is provided under whatever terms the owner of the documentation provides it under, you don't have claim over it just because you've provided a link.

4
  • 1
    To be clear, the reason I linked to the content in the example post wasn't to avoid the TOS, it was because it just makes more sense in that case to host a project with multiple files on GitHub rather than pasting it into a post (which isn't really feasible sometimes).
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:50
  • 6
    @JasonC I think if a post needs a project with multiple files, it hasn't yet been distilled into something that works as a question anywhere on SE. Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:51
  • 1
    I agree. That particular post is rather unusual.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:51
  • 2
    I got an official confirmation that this answer is correct.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 17:29
4

I got an official answer (I'm keeping the currently accepted answer as accepted since it's correct, this just confirms it).

I asked, via the Contact link:

Hi, I have a questions about the TOS.

The SE TOS defines "Subscriber Content" as:

any and all content, including without limitation any and all text, graphics, logos, tools, photographs, images, illustrations, software or source code, audio and video, animations, and product feedback (collectively, “Content”) that you provide to the public Network (collectively, “Subscriber Content”)

My question is: Does this only include content that is directly posted to an SE site, or does it also include content where only a URL to the content is posted?

For example, I once created content specifically for an SO post (https://stackoverflow.com/a/74416006/616460) but I only posted a GitHub link to the content, rather than the content itself. I licensed the content under the Clear BSD license. Does this project now count as "Subscriber Content" because it was designed specifically for the post and I "[provided it] to the public Network"? Or does it avoid the TOS' CC-BY-SA licensing terms since it was only a URL?

Response:

Happy to clarify here: our Terms of Service and Licensing covers all text that is shared on our platform, we do not claim a license to content that is posted elsewhere and then linked to in our sites. So, essentially, your entire answer is covered by our license, but the content on the github repo is not; that is covered by the license you choose in github.

Please keep in mind that our sites typically do not allow a "link-only answer" - yours definitely isn't, your linking there is fine.

-1

I suspect not? At least- not in all cases.

Ex. links to YouTube videos demonstrating something. A sizable amount of these are not content created by the post author. Something in me doubts that the post authors of every single one of the posts have the permission to license the linked content under CC-BY-SA. And yet people do it (link to content they don't own and probably can't re-license) a lot (and from my very limited, fallible knowledge, SE doesn't seem to have a problem with it).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .