5

I would like to use content I wrote on SE as part of an internal blog. However, I would like to avoid directly linking my SE profile to my RL person.

If I quote material from an SE post written by me, what are my obligations as far as citing go? Can I implicitly allow myself to use my content (which is not under my real name or otherwise clearly identified to my IRL identity) without attribution?

SE content is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Note that the SE terms and conditions clauses here apply only to content "with the exception of content entirely created by You" so I am only concerned with the actual license implications.

5

The simplest answer is that you are the copyright holder, and Stack Exchange's license to your work is not exclusive, so you have unlimited rights to use your own work however you please. You cannot go wrong republishing your own work, since you are still the copyright holder of the work and never promised an exclusive license to anyone (e.g., as you might if you were a professional writer submitting a piece to a magazine or newspaper).

So, you technically have no obligations to yourself or to Stack Exchange. The interesting question here is how things would go if you staunchly refuse to identify yourself as the author of the Stack Exchange post, even privately to Stack Exchange. What could Stack Exchange do, in response to this apparently-unauthorized (but really in secret, self-authorized) reuse of Stack Exchange content?

Insofar as Stack Exchange doesn't hold copyright on the post, they can't take any action against you for copyright violation. Furthermore, even if they wanted to treat it as some kind of terms-of-service violation, Stack Exchange can't prove that your license to use the post didn't come directly from the original author (e.g., maybe this reposter is a friend of the author and has never even heard of Stack Exchange), or that the reposter is in fact the original copyright holder (as is the case here).

In an academic context, you may sometimes have an obligation not to self-plagiarize, but this is an academic ethical concern, not a legal issue. (Nor does it appear to be relevant in this particular, non-academic scenario.)

  • Even though Stack Exchange doesn't hold copyright on the post, maybe they could come after you for violation of their terms of service, under the assumption that you got the content from Stack Exchange, and you failed to meet their CC BY-SA attribution terms -- this is explicitly addressed by the SE terms of service and noted your contributions are excluded from the SE ToS requirements, which is why I am only asking about the CC BY-SA 3.0 requirements. – enderland Jul 12 '17 at 18:26
  • @MonicaCellio Since I can't find anything about it anymore -- and since the OP points of out that the particular structure of the SE ToS makes it irrelevant -- I have largely removed the ToS discussion from my answer. – apsillers Jul 12 '17 at 20:09
  • @apsillers thanks for letting me know. That looks much better to me. I'll remove my comment. – Monica Cellio Jul 12 '17 at 20:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.