I wrote content for 2 years on a website licensed under creative commons license CC-SA-BY 3.0. The community has become increasingly toxic and abusive and I no longer wished to be affiliated with the project. Upon requesting that my content be removed from the site the admin refused claiming that it was community property, before the owner claimed that I didnt write it and that he can do anything he wants with it according to creative commons.

Is there legal action I can take to have my content removed from the site? I have drafts to prove that I am in fact the original author.

3 Answers 3


You can't

Under clause 7(b) of the CC-SA-BY 3.0 the licence is irrevocable providing that the licensee complies with its terms.

However, ...

It appears that your work is part of a Collection (as defined and under clause 4(a), the licensee has this obligation:

If You create a Collection, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Collection any credit as required by Section 4(c), as requested.

While you cannot have your work removed, you can have the attribution removed so that no one knows that it is your work - this would seem to meet your desire of having no association with the website. "To the extent practicable" should include anonymising you.

As a bonus, if they don't do this "to the extent practicable" then they are in breach of the licence and it's automatically revoked - you can then proceed with DCMA takedown notices and/or sue for copyright breach.


It is possible to stop distributing your work under a creative commons license, however that does not revoke the license from anybody who already accepted the license. It does also not stop them from redistributing the work under the same license. See Article 7(b) of CC-SA-BY 3.0:

b. Subject to the above terms and conditions, the license granted here is perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright in the Work). Notwithstanding the above, Licensor reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time; provided, however that any such election will not serve to withdraw this License (or any other license that has been, or is required to be, granted under the terms of this License), and this License will continue in full force and effect unless terminated as stated above.

The license will be terminated when any of the license conditions is breached. One of the conditions is attribution. So if you did supply your name (full name, pseudonym, or user name), and it has been removed by someone else, the license has automatically been terminated for that website. Note that attribution can be done in different ways, for example wikipedia uses the history pages for attribution, that is fine. See Article 7(a) of CC-SA-BY 3.0:

a. This License and the rights granted hereunder will terminate automatically upon any breach by You of the terms of this License. Individuals or entities who have received Adaptations or Collections from You under this License, however, will not have their licenses terminated provided such individuals or entities remain in full compliance with those licenses. Sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 will survive any termination of this License.


Perpetual License

As the answers by wimh and Da;e M correctly point out, section 7(b) of the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license declares the license perpetual , and provides no way for the copyright owner to cancel it, unless the person using the work violates the terms of the license. That is one reasons why a number of websites that depend on user contributions, including Stack Exchange and Wikipedia, use a version of the CC-BY-SA license.

Termination Rights Under 17 USC 203

It is true that if the license is granted under US law, the provisions of 17 USC 203 permit the author to cancel any and all licenses, grants, and transfers, for any reason or none. But that can only be done during a five-year period starting 35 years after the work is created, or in some cases 35 years after the work is first published, and the author must give two years notice. But this right of cancellation cannot be contracted away in advance. Still to use it, one would have to wait fore the end of the 35-year period.

Termination Rights Under the CC-BY-DA license

On a more practical note, if the site operator violates any of the limitations in section 4 of the license, the licensee (recipient, in this case the web site operator) will have his or her the license terminate. This includes the obligation of the licensee to preserve the original copyright notice, if any; to provide proper attribution; to provide a copy of or URI for the license text; to remove any credit line on request; and to provide proper credit to the person granting the license, in the absence of a request to remove credit. A public post falsely denying the authorship of a post would seem to be a failure to grant proper credit, and would terminate the license.

Effect of License Termination

If the license is terminated, further display becomes copyright infringement, just as if no license had even been granted. In this case cease & desist letters, DMCA takedown notices, and copyright infringement suits may be used, although in the US a work must be registered before any infringement suit can be brought.

Data Protection Rights

Also, if the site operator is locates in the EU pr UK, or you are, so that the GDPR applies, or you are located in California so that the CCPA applies, or if any other Data Protection law with similar provisions applies, the post may be considered to be "Personal Data" (PD) because it is associated with a specific identifiable natural person (the author), If so, the author may have the right to have the post removed undern such a data protection law.

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