I've been reading up a little bit on the CC by-sa license, because I found a really helpful Stack Exchange answer that I would like to use in a book that I am selling. This answer is really short (only about 30 words long), but I modified it a little bit. With that being said, if it only takes up a very small portion of my book, and is not the main idea of my book, would I still be able to sell it and prevent redistribution (not using the CC by-sa license)? I am fine with allowing redistribution of my paraphrase of the answer, which will only be a paragraph long in the entire book. The most similar question I could find is If I use CC-BY-SA image in a video, must the whole video be CC-BY-SA?, but that question is for unmodified content. Is a footnote with attribution (direct link to the answer) enough? Should I contact the person who wrote the answer? Thanks so much for the answers :D

edit, just realised how much I used "answer" in that paragraph, sorry

edit 2, would I be able to license only a section of my book under CC by-sa, and then provide attribution like so?enter image description here

(source of this attribution: Creative Commons wiki

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    If it's such a small part of the book, why take the risk? Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 15:33
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    And you can't consult a lawyer because.... Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 23:56

2 Answers 2


One cannot use a post relying on the CC-BY-SA license, without complying with the SA part, that is unless the entire work in which it is incorporated is released under the CC-BY-SA license.

In the absence of license permission, a would-be reuser is in the same position as if the source work had been published with "all rights reserved" that is with no permissions granted to anyone except to read it. The source work might be quoted in such a way that it falls under fair use in the US, or a similar exception to copyright in other countries. Proper attribution will help the case for fair use. Or the source work might be rewritten suffici8ently that its use is not an infringement. Or one might ask the original author for specific permission, outside the CC license, which the author might choose to grant.


Just going to put a specific answer here for specific people who might stumble upon this question. Copyright cannot protect ideas. The answer I was looking at expressed an idea (which can be copyrighted), but since my paraphrase of it was heavily modified, it seems like it is fair use to me. I am almost certain that the user who made the answer did not even think up that idea (although bear in mind it was still their expression of the idea), and it was tossed around before then, although I'm not completely sure.

TL;DR: copyright cannot protect ideas, only the way we express these ideas.

This might not help everyone, but it did help me.

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