I plan on writing a personal blog, which will be mostly about software development topics. It's going to be implemented as a Github Pages blog on my own custom domain.

I am debating whether I should licence my blog posts; I want my content to be used freely by all, but I just want something to protect my work as my own.

I keep gravitating towards CC By 4.0. However, there is one part of the licence that is making me feel hesitant; it appears that any reference to my work will also require the person to also have a link to my licence available.

Would that mean anyone linking to my blog post's public URL also be forced to link to my open source licence too? I have certainly never done so when linking to others' works, I would have never guessed before today that I may have been required to.

Also, I want to licence the source code in my project under something permissive like MIT. What's the best way to implement two different licences in my blog?

Last question: what if I just don't licence any of my work? I know that it falls into default copyrighting laws, but is there a possibility that I can no longer claim my work as my own in the future, such as a situation suggested here where another person contributes to my work?

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


The Creative Common licenses and thus especially CC-BY ones were designed as licenses for creative work like texts, like images, models etc. That includes of course work like texts in blog posts - and they are very suited to that, so go for that. I've no statistics, but as popularity of usage goes, wikipedia definitely is a good example, as is this site

As to usage and reference to work: simply linking to a blog post usually does not count as use of copyrighted work (but see this ruling concerning linking to copyright infringements by the ECJ, thx @MadHatter) - thus anyone linking to some resource usually needs not worry about the copyright of the resource. Generally, copyright for a piece of work applies and needs to be obtained when you copy a substantial part of that work. Linking is not copying.

Thus to fall under the requirements of obtaining a license of copyrighted work usually requires that you actually show the image, or quote or paraphrase a substantial part of a text on your own page or similar, thus anything which goes beyond fair use. In those situations one needs a license to use that work - that's what you allow by licensing to your texts under a creative commons license. The only requirement you put on such usage with a CC-BY license is that your name is mentioned as creator of that (original) text. It is good and established practise to actually link the source when dealing with electronic texts. Good examples for this are how wikipedia links their user-contributed resources and how they give citation recommendations.

You always can claim your own work (details depend on jurisdiction) However, if there is no license on a joint piece of work, how do you know what your collaborators allow to be done with their work on it? No license means you may not modify, re-use etc a text - you have no license from them at all. For the case of joint work of several authors that quickly poses a problem: How would you make clear that you have permission from the other person to modify, show, re-use their part of a text? You never obtained the express permission from the other author to include their text in a combined work with your text - and thus put yourself in jeopardy of being sued by them for copyright infringement. Having a license like CC-BY on your joint work makes it clear under which conditions all parts can be used by anyone, including you and all collaborators.

  • "anyone linking to some resource needs not worry about the copyright of the resource" sadly, this has not always been held to be true. See eg Wikipedia: "In September 2016, the European Court of Justice ruled that knowingly linking to an unauthorized posting of a copyrighted work for commercial gain constituted infringement". I would agree, though, that it is very unlikely that anyone who's published work under an open licence would file suit on this basis.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 7:05
  • Indeed, yes. With 'linking' I actually meant providing a link - and not having it included to provide the impression that the work belongs here - which somewhat is what the ruling is based upon Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 7:11
  • The ruling specifically covers linking. The Verge's linked summary says that "[ECJ] rules that hyperlinking can infringe on copyright". They link to the EFF's summary, which says the same thing ("a website that merely links to material that infringes copyright, can itself be found guilty of copyright infringement"). This is not a ruling about embedding, afaict.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 7:25
  • 3
    That particular ruling was about linking where the linked content is in itself a copyright infringement. Thus it is in a spirit that you must not willfully support copyright infringement. Generally it is allowed (see also wbs-law.de/allgemein/ecj-web-links-infringe-copyright-law-16896). The full text of the 2016 ruling you refer to is here: cdn.netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/2016/09/C0160_2015-EN.pdf with an assessment here (German)netzpolitik.org/2016/… Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 9:43
  • I agree with that analysis, but earlier you'd modified your answer to suggest that the ruling only related to embedding content, which isn't so. It's also wrong to say that "anyone linking to some resource needs not worry about the copyright of the resource", since as you've just said, that is exactly something they do have to worry about.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 9:46

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