Say I am having an article in a website and there is a material that I'm allowed to use or transform with the requirement of giving credit. Does that mean the credit needs to be immediately after I use the material? Am I allowed to put the credit in:

  • The bottom of the page?
  • Another page in the same website?
  • Another website but it's clearly that both websites are mine?

If another person in the comment says "this material is from author X", then do I still need to credit?

I feel that the first case is widely acceptable. But my problem is if it's fine then how are the other cases not the same? In all cases the credit is out of the viewport of the readers when they see the material. If the readers are expected to read the whole article before making the judgement about the lack of credit, then by the same argument the readers are also expected to read the whole website to know if I actually not giving credit or not? Similarly to reading a book, one cannot just open it in the middle and say that I don't define the concepts, while I did define them at earlier chapters. (I may even defer the definitions to later chapters as an intended purpose.)

The license in my case is CC BY-NC 2.5, but I think the question can be generalized to any license.

  • 3
    When I was teaching new web designers, my first lesson included the line, "The internet is not permanent. Never assume a page you link to will still be there six months or six years from now." By including the credits on the same page, you know that they will be available as long as the content is. May 14, 2021 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


Exactly how and where credit must be given depends on the exact terms of the license, and may not be the same for all permissive licenses. The various CC licenses require that attribution be given

... in any reasonable manner based on the medium, means, and context ...

Other licenses may have more specific requirements.

But even where the content used is PD and no credit is legally required, best practice is to give it as near the quoted or referenced content as possible, to assist readers. Failing to give proper credit in a way that makes it clear what has and what has not been copied, and from where, is considered plagiarism in most academic circles, whether the content quoted is under copyright or not. The Wikipedia standard is to give a source footnote no later than the end of the paragraph, and usually by the end of the sentence, sooner if delay would make it unclear.

My view is that at least an indication of the source should be given immediately adjacent to the quoted or sourced content, with a link to a place that gives fuller credit. That should be on the same page, to avoid problems if a site is restructured later. The point is to assist readers as much as to comply with copyright law.

  • So is the argument the readers are expected to read the whole website to know if I actually not giving credit or not a reasonable manner?
    – Ooker
    May 15, 2021 at 2:05
  • @Ooker It might be legal, I haven't found any published cases on that point for CC licenses. I don't think it is appropriate. The object is, or should be, to help the reader as much as possible to understand what is quoted and where it came from, not to do the least one can legally get away with. It is not as if putting a small indication of source adjacent to the quoted content costs anything or is any significant trouble to the web designer. Why skimp? May 15, 2021 at 2:16
  • it's for a stylistic device. For example, you are describing the beauty of the engine of the car, and mention a quote as if the idea comes naturally (so no quotation marks). Later on you reveal its author for a surprising fact, and as a transition word for changing the topic (from the car engine to the person). Or you can play hide-and-seek with your readers, and they need to figure out by themselves that person A is the author of the image B.
    – Ooker
    May 15, 2021 at 5:15

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