What is the ownership of answers?

I started teaching languages when I was an infant and several of my students have reached a level very close to native speakers. In order to still be able to teach them something, I have a huge collection of my own observations about subtle differences that tend to escape our eye. I have never wished to publish any of this, but I don't want to exclude the possibility of me or my family doing so some day. Today one such question appeared on stack exchange.

Will I encounter copyright issues if I ever publish my own answer?

  • 2
    Just so I fully understand this: You may want to publish content from your own Stack Exchange answers elswhere, e.g., in a book, and ask whether you may do so?
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:19
  • @Wrzlprmft Yes. Me or my family. And they will be copying from my own teaching notes for very advanced students, which may bear gross resemblance to my own answers, because I have explained these things more than 100 times (in rare cases). Thus you can expect me to get a bit repetitive:D
    – Ludi
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:23
  • I've always understood answers and questions as implicitly conceding the WTFPL. That's why I'm looking forward to read an authoritative answer to this question.
    – c.p.
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:28
  • @c.p. what is the WTFPL?
    – Ludi
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:38
  • @c.p. Thank you. For me your explanation shall suffice :D
    – Ludi
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:46
  • @c.p. nope. no WTFPL on SE, if not specifically conceded by the original and sole creator of the content.
    – Vogel612
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:56
  • WTFPL is the do What The Fuck you want to Public License. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTFPL It is a very rarely used license, developed for software, but might be used in other branches too. It is an offspring of public domain license. WTFPL was approved as a GPL-compatible free software license by the Free Software Foundation but its use is “not recommended.” I'm pretty sure, that it is not the official license model for StackExchange. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 9:00

1 Answer 1


So IANAL, but let me quote the StackExchange TOS here:

You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.

Then follows lots and lots of legal stuff, and then this section:

In the event that You post or otherwise use Subscriber Content outside of the Network or Services, with the exception of content entirely created by You, You agree that You will follow the attribution rules of the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license as follows: [..] - highlighting by me

The baseline is: You still are the original owner of the content.
While what you contributed is "perpetually and irrevocably" licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0, you have the right to relicense and republish your own work under any license you choose, as long as it's "content entirely created by you"

  • 4
    Most importantly: By licensing something under a Creative Commons licence, all you do is to allow others to use your creations (under certain conditions). You are not making any agreement that you will refrain from doing anything with your content and thus are free to do what you want with it, as if you had never posted it.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:59
  • What does IANAL mean?
    – Ludi
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 13:03
  • @Ludi I am not a lawyer
    – Vogel612
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 13:03
  • @Vogel612 I assumed so. Are you saying this in response to my asking about the abbreviation? I hadn't interpreted it as part of the legal text.
    – Ludi
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 13:05
  • yes. no the legal text is only the quoted part.
    – Vogel612
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 13:09
  • 1
    But always remember to disclose to the publisher, that this has already been published in some form. Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 5:25

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