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Apologies if this is off topic here.

I'm creating a basic technical blog which will contain tutorial/code snippets/project management thoughts, whatever.

The idea is to:

  • Host the raw markdown on a public Github
  • Publish it to my site
  • Cross publish it to Medium/Dev.to/Whatever new blogging platform crops up.

Now in terms of licensing, I was thinking using a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

That is - I'm happy for people share/reuse my content for their similarly free blogs, but I just don't want someone hoovering up all the content I create and creating a book out of it.

Actually, there's a bit of a gnarl there. Say I'm saying 'here's a snippet of code that does XYZ'. I don't want attribution or to prevent commercial use in someone using that snippet. I just don't want someone doing commercial reuse of the tutorial/blog post itself (eg. creating a book out of it, or using it in paid training material).

Is that something I need to worry about, even if I used an MIT license?

How does licensing working when publishing to third party publishers like Medium/Dev.to? ie. Will my license by respected if I publish to Medium/Dev.to? Do I need to include a copy of the license in the blog post?

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There are three kinds of people to consider

  • the ignorant, who believe that because your content is available at no cost, they have the freedom to use it as they like
  • the dishonest, who know how copyright works but just don't care and do what they want anyway
  • the honest, who know and care about copyrights

For the first two categories, it doesn't really matter what license you use. It is at best a stick to beat them with if they do something that isn't allowed by the license.

For the third category, you need to think about what effects your license has on the possibilities for reuse that you want to create.

The CC BY-SA-NC license severely limits the possibilities for reuse of the code snippets in your blog. The NC part disqualifies the license from being open-source and makes it incompatible with the GPL license, while the SA part requires that any project that uses the code must be under the CC BY-SA-NC license. This will probably cause people to steer away from using the snippets you provide.

The MIT license on the other hand would not meet your criteria that the text of the blog cannot be exploited commercially by others.

As a compromise, you can use a dual license for the code snippets. With a dual license, the recipients of the code can choose which license terms they want to conform to. This could look something like

"Copyright 2020 dwjohnston. This blog is made available under the CC BY-SA-NC license. The code snippets presented here are additionally licensed under the MIT license."

How does licensing working when publishing to third party publishers like Medium/Dev.to? ie. Will my license by respected if I publish to Medium/Dev.to?

When publishing via Medium/Dev.to/etc., you give a license to the publisher to do what they need to do to show your blog on their platform. Otherwise, the content is yours and you can decide yourself what license the readers of your blog on such a platform get.

Do I need to include a copy of the license in the blog post?

Yes. Not just when publishing through Medium/Dev.to/etc., but it is a good idea to always include a license statement in your blog, especially if you use a license that allows others to reproduce the blog.

This can be a statement like the example I gave above, with links to the tekst of the appropriate licenses.

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