or
Paul White
licensing
What should the licence for content contributed here be?

The main options are:

1. [![CC0][1]][3] [CC0 "No Rights Reserved"][3]
2. [![CC BY][2]][4] [Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)][4]
3. [![CC BY-SA][5]][6] [Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)][6]

Option 3 is the same as the Stack Exchange licence, the others are more permissive.

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This question is about what license this site redistributes your contributions under. Everyone is, of course, free to license their own content in whatever way(s) they choose.

All of the above options are permissive enough for the site — and the 'attribution' requirement of your CC-BY and CC-BY-SA grant would appear to be satisfied by showing your name on the post and in the edit histories.

[1]: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/69/CC0_button.svg/88px-CC0_button.svg.png
[2]: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/16/CC-BY_icon.svg/88px-CC-BY_icon.svg.png
[3]: https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/
[4]: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
[5]: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d0/CC-BY-SA_icon.svg/88px-CC-BY-SA_icon.svg.png
[6]: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
Top Answer
Jack Douglas
I'm not sure there is any need for the site to mandate an option. Every contribution could specify what the author wants to grant, with the default for each user set in their profile.

The question would then become "what grant should we default to for new accounts". I suggest the default should be CC0 for the entire contribution. Either of the others would be OK too though.

I would suggest that once a contribution has been made, the grants cannot be changed (perhaps unless no-one has edited it except the OP).

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update:

Every question and answer now specifies the license granted. Once granted you can't change the license and all edits to posts, by anyone, are explicitly done under the same license as the original post, as indicated on the buttons that submit the changes, like this:

![Screenshot 2019-11-16 at 14.51.37.png](/image?hash=41b5930f262b21abf124d5b9a65b1b9c46ac5f17607f8762b8914d9a8429b7fc)

The options currently available are:

* [CC0 1.0](https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0)
* [CC BY 4.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)
* [CC BY-NC-SA 4.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0)
* [CC BY-SA 3.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
* [CC BY-SA 4.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

And for an (optional) [additional license for original code](/meta?q=24):

* [CC0 1.0](https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0)

Please ask here on meta if you'd like to see a license added to either list.

The site default is currently CC BY-SA 4.0 but this may change in future. If it does change **it will *never* change the account default license that you have set** — the site-wide default is only for *new* accounts. I can see good arguments for several of the other licenses in the current list to be the default — I like CC0, but CC BY-NC-SA would be an interesting choice.
Answer #2
Caleb
Raw "Public Domain" declarations are problematic as the only license available for code snippets. In some countries PD is not a recognized thing and this actually restricts the use of code more than frees it up. The same goes for undecaled or "do whatever" style licenses. CC0 seems be the best attempt to address those tricky legal issues while still being as explicitly open as possible. That's probably a good default.

However it does not address all concerns and other licenses should be an option. For example:

* To questioners, it will be difficult to ask questions if they are forced to rewrite snippets to be CC0. If my sofware is MIT or GPL or whatever licensed and I want to ask about why something is going wrong in some function, and if I didn't write all the code and hence can't just relicence it myself, it's problematic to not be able to post the snippet in a question.

* Most of the time when posting something online in answer to a question I don't have any reason to care. But every once in a while I do care that my contributions in a certain problem are only usable in the OSS world and not useful to people building proprietary software unsess they rewrite them. Personally I'm far more inclined to go the extra mile to help out some poor soul by fixing their code up for them if I know it will remain a lasting OSS afair and _not_ just be gobbled up.

With those points in mind I'd suggest adding a pretty full suite of licence choices for code snippets, and probably default answers to 1st to whatever the question was posted as and 2nd to the users preference.
What should the site content licence be?
Caleb replying to Jack Douglas
Ug, I actually did not realize CC-BY-4.0 was an `N+` license by default. Not my favorite.
Jack Douglas
the main question then is what rights the contributors want licensees on step further on to have
Jack Douglas
as long as we can publish the content, we are good as a site
Jack Douglas
CC BY-SA-NC for example, while at the restrictive end of what CC provide, is still enough for us (though not for SE)
Jack Douglas
I think we have made it clear enough that we are not asserting any rights over contributed content beyond the rights that are granted under whatever license the contributor chooses
Jack Douglas
(btw one of the significant changes in CC BY 4.0 is an explicit 'or any later version' clause)
Jack Douglas
the ambiguity being that they don't specify the version, so might be able to imply that 'or any later version' is implied
Jack Douglas replying to Caleb
I think they are trying to take advantage of an ambiguity in the [SO T&Cs](https://stackoverflow.com/legal/terms-of-service) "…pursuant to Creative Commons licensing terms (CC-BY-SA), and you grant Stack Overflow the perpetual…". afaik they have never asked for a copyright grant or claimed that they have one from contributors.
Caleb
One thing I think will need clarifying though is who actually holds the license. I think this is how SE thinks they are legally getting away with re licensing. Back in the 2→3 days I think their TOS changed so that site contributors were actually handing over ownership of the content to SE to be posted _by them_ under CC-BY-SA-3 (as opposed to the user posting it under than license). I'm pretty sure that's how their lawyers are justifying them for unilaterally re-licensing under CC-BY-SA-4.0, they think SE is the copyright granting party.
Caleb
Confusing that the CC logo for CC0 says "public domain", but okay....
Caleb
Other points still apply, but _not_ having PD as an option and CC0 instead seems like a good plan.
Caleb replying to Jack Douglas
Okay I learned something new today. My research into Creative Commons licenses is a bit dated. The 4.0 stuff is new to me, and the CC0 is not what I assumed it was any more. It looks like a good attempt at enforcing the intent of Public Domain.
Jack Douglas
MIT and GPL are obvious choices
Jack Douglas
saying that I have no objection to adding more options
Jack Douglas
@Caleb OK, but CC0 is [not the same as public domain](https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/): "…provides the best and most complete alternative for contributing a work to the public domain given the many complex and diverse copyright and database systems around the world."
Jack Douglas replying to GeorgePalacios
great, thanks for the input. we are kind-of locking ourselves into being non-profit forever by even allowing CC BY-NC-SA contributions, which I think is a feature rather than a bug
GeorgePalacios replying to Jack Douglas
I meant that trying to discern what is and isn't possible (IE if we ever want to mass-migrate questions or some other task) might make it tricky. But ultimately as long as we have control over what license options are available to choose from, I think this is a non-issue
GeorgePalacios replying to Jack Douglas
No I think that makes more sense to me
Jack Douglas replying to GeorgePalacios
we've updated the site and my answer. having seen the changes, do you still think we might be storing up problems for later?
Jack Douglas
@GeorgePalacios can you give an example or two about what kind of scenario you mean?
GeorgePalacios
Licensing at the post level seems like it could make things difficult to manage en mass?
GeorgePalacios
RE: Content licenses, could we be creating a headache down the line by letting users assign their preferred license?
Paul White replying to Jack Douglas
neato
Jack Douglas replying to Paul White
you can see it in action now — I think all the pieces are in place
Jack Douglas replying to Paul White
only by asking the contributor. you can set your default in your profile now, and choose what license to apply to new posts, but what license would you like on your current posts? I have added CC BY-SA 4.0 without any additional license for code — but will change on demand for the posts already up…
Jack Douglas
well, maybe not quite precisely enough :)
Jack Douglas replying to ypercubeᵀᴹ
I know you might be joking, but yes, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 will have that effect almost precisely
ypercubeᵀᴹ
Can I have a CC BY-SA-BUT-NOT-SE licence?  
I allow all my posts to be copied everywhere except the Stack Exchange sites ;)
Paul White replying to Jack Douglas
Ok but how do you know contributions are given to this site under any sort of CC licence at the moment?
Paul White replying to Jack Douglas
That seems like it should work, though I'd need to see it in action.
Lamak
I think that choosing your licence would be more problematic than helpful
Jack Douglas
the license in the profile isn't a declaration, or even publicly visible — it's a private setting so you don't have to manually choose each time you post (I'm assuming most people will want to use the same license each time they post — I'll choose CC0 for example, even if the site default ends up being CC BY-SA)
Jack Douglas replying to Paul White
I wasn't at all clear — I'm suggesting showing the link to the chosen license on every post (which could vary post by post)
Jack Douglas
whatever license a user chooses to contribute under will be enough for the site to use (because we'll meet CC BY-SA regardless) — it'll only affect those who want to republish elsewhere or use the code elsewhere
Jack Douglas replying to Paul White
CC licenses can't be revoked once granted
Paul White
This means any user could at any stage revoke permission to use their content? This would seem to require the site to remove all questions (and any answers) on request.
Paul White
> Everyone is, of course, free to license their own content in whatever way(s) they choose.
Paul White
Oh I see the question has been edited
Paul White
The question I'm really asking is: What licence is user-supplied content provided to TopAnswers under?
Paul White replying to Jack Douglas
Ok but if the poster chooses to licence their content to you (the site) under CC BY-SA by default, are you meeting the requirements by having something in the profile? I don't think so. There's a reason SE have licence information in the footer of each page.
Jack Douglas
the main license would be from (CC0, CC BY, CC BY-SA) and the code license from another list (eg MIT, GPLv2/3, Apache2.0 — others could be added if there is enough demand)
Jack Douglas
the code license would be optional, the main license mandatory
Jack Douglas
rather than try and become an expert in any of this I think we should just let the user choose whether to grant a separate license for code in addition to the CC license that covers the entire post
Jack Douglas
An added complication is that CC BY(-SA) aren't really suitable for code.
Jack Douglas replying to Paul White
I think I may have mis-communicated what I mean. I'm suggesting that each time someone posts a question or answer, they select the license of their choice. Default choices can be set in the profile which just serve to pre-select the license when you post — it can be overridden but I imagine normally people will set their preference in the profile and license all works the same way. The site default is then just what each profile defaults until the user overrides it in their profile.
Paul White
If nothing else, it is certainly convenient to have the proper legalities largely taken care of in the page footer.
Paul White
@Jack I think the advantage of a default site licence is that it can appear statically on every page to meet the licencing requirement without the user needing to do anything.  
I'm not at all sure that licence terms in a user's profile would do the same job, but this isn't my expert area.
Jack Douglas
Interesting post explaining an important difference between CC-BY-SA 3.0 and 4.0: https://opensource.stackexchange.com/a/6783