If I want to create a content publishing website where authors can write works (and derivative works of other authors), is it legal (and, perhaps more helpfully, is it ever a practice) to have a two-tiered licensing structure for the content?

In other words, can I license the content with CC BY-NC on the site (so other authors can create derivative works without infringement), and then fully copyright the content for all uses outside of the site

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    Make sure you fully understand the implications of each license (or better yet, have a lawyer help you understand them). For instance, with the scheme you propose, a person could sign up for your site, and under the CC license they could download all the works and repost them for free on their own website (with the original authors' names). This would probably undercut whatever you have in mind with "fully copyright for all uses outside the site". – Nate Eldredge Mar 19 '20 at 2:24

Yes. A license is a legal form of permission to do something (usually, to use a particular property, whether real or digital or intellectual) and the conditions applied to that use.

Different licenses for the same property are extremely common, for example, a free license for hobby or non-profit work and a paid license for commercial usage.

Other conditions can include the requirement to make the derivative work also available in some manner or to disallow restrictive conditions should the derivative work be licensed itself, even up to requiring the exact same license be applied to all works.

Wording the license exactly so that it achieves the goals you intend is the work of a qualified and registered lawyer, and obtaining their services is definitely recommended for this task.

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