Put into FAQ:

Will submitted code be licensed under the copyleft Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license?

I really want to know this!

Since the CC-BY-SA is a copyleft, viral license akin to the GPL, it would be absolutely horrible if an employee (or someone just working on their own non-copylefted (think: BSD Licensed, for instance) stuff) asked for help on Code Review, got a working code snippet, and then their entire work had to, per letter of the law, also fall under the CC-BY-SA.

Honestly, it seems reasonable to believe that pretty much everyone thinks the code snippets they create for the entire Stack Exchange Network is put in the public domain, so why not just do that explicitly? Make the code and suggestions from others usable by anyone, anywhere, at any time for any reason.

In any case, I want official clarification as to what the licensing of snippets is, and this should definitely be prominently displayed in the FAQ and even on every compose page.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ My understanding (IANAL) is that if as the owner of the code, I were to post it here, then I am allowing others to use the content of the post under the CC-BY-SA licence, but I am still able to release the same content under other licences such as BSD. If I were not the owner of the code, then I could only use it in a post if the licence under which it was provided to me, was compatible with the CC-BY-SA license. ... this is actually one of the reasons I'm not comfortable copying linked code into someone else's post. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2012 at 7:50

1 Answer 1


It's already in the FAQ (kind of):

All contributions are licensed under Creative Commons and this site is collaboratively edited, like Wikipedia.

Also, the FAQ is not a good place for legalese, it's purpose is to give a quick overview of what the site is about, not provide insight in complex matters like this one. The community can shape the FAQ up to a point as certain sections of it are editable only by the team. I'm guessing any mention of legal concerns would be amongst those sections, so your best bet would be to bring that up on Meta Stack Exchange, the network-wide Meta.

Lastly, there is a link to the Stack Exchange Terms of Service on the footer, and if I'm not horribly mistaken, newer users are encouraged to read it before posting, through system notifications. Haven't been a newer user for quite some time, so treat that as a guess.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Although the FAQ may claim that every contribution is relicensed as CC-BY_SA, this is, in fact, not always possible. If for example person A is the copyright holder, and person B posts the code, person B is breaking the law, since he is not allowed to relicense anything, he does not hold the rights to. Because he lacks the proper juridical titel for relicensing, the code will not become CC-BY_SA. The actual details can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the above generally holds true. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jacco
    Jul 5, 2012 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ The same goes for some licences that do not permit relicensing, or, a code comment showing a difference license: the most specific licese information will, in most jurisdictions, take precedence. So, no license claim would, if the poster holds the proper rights over the code, result in a relicense into CC-BY_SA. However, for example code comment, published alongside the code snipped, saying GNU General Public License would likely overwrite the less specific CC-BY_SA claim set by the sites FAQ. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jacco
    Jul 5, 2012 at 19:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Anyhow, I think for codereview.stackexchange.com, the license/relicense information in the FAQ definately need more attention for this website to have any chance of succeeding without it becoming a juridical swamp. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jacco
    Jul 5, 2012 at 19:34

You must log in to answer this question.

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