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A few weeks ago, I discovered this site, which just seems to be a wholesale copy of a very large amount of StackExchange content.

There is no attribution or acknowledgement of any sort, and in fact the content appears to have been run through some kind of tool to replace many words and phrases with synonyms, so that the text no longer matches exactly.

I had no doubt at all that this content was copied after finding this post, which is a rip-off of my Puzzling.SE post here. The ironic thing is that the solution to that puzzle actually depends on the particular wording used, so the copy on the other site is actually utter nonsense; the puzzle doesn't work and the "solutions" posted there don't apply to it.

To be clear, I am not overly concerned that my content showed up somewhere else; I am more concerned that this website seems to be appropriating StackExchange content for its own purposes, without attribution.

I considered reporting this to StackExchange, but after reading a few meta posts on the topic, it seemed pretty clear that they probably wouldn't (or wouldn't be able to) do anything about it. One of the suggestions there was to file a copyright dispute with Google.

I thought I might as well do so, and filled out their form with all the pertinent information. I recently received a reply from them as follows (emphasis mine):

Thanks for reaching out to us.

With regard to the following URL(s):

https://copyprogramming.com/howto/what-is-round-in-gather-round-and-listen-close https://copyprogramming.com/howto/what-is-round-in-gather-round-and-listen-close#hearken-now-and-listen-close

We are unsure whether you are authorized to submit a copyright removal request for the content in question. Only the copyright owner or their authorized representative can submit a copyright removal request. Please note that you could be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys' fees) if you falsely claim that content is copyright infringing.

Copyright in a creative work is generally owned by the person who created it, unless it was made as part of that person’s responsibilities as an employee (in which case the content belongs to the employer) or that person entered into a written agreement to transfer the rights to someone else. So, for example, a person who is the subject of a photograph generally does not own the copyright, unless they took the photo themselves or obtained rights in it from the person who did. The same is true of text or video.

If you still believe you are the copyright owner, then please reply to this email explaining how that is the case. Otherwise, we cannot process your request.

Now, I would love to see this site penalized in some way (even if just by being removed from Google search results), but I don't want to go out on a limb and end up being held liable for damages.

Is there a clear-cut case here? Do I run a serious risk of financial loss by pursuing this? Is it worth it?

If it matters, I live in Canada.

2 Answers 2

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You are the copyright owner of your posts only

You gave SE a licence using the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence, which is copyleft licence. This means that anyone who follows the licence rules can reuse and modify the content.

This particular licence doesn't have a lot of terms, but one of them is attribution - that is, they have to attribute your content to you (i.e. to your SE user name). If they haven't done that, then they cannot claim the protection of the licence, i.e. their use of your content without attribution is copyright violation against you.

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  • I'm aware of that. I'm more concerned whether having to try to prove that fact could result in financial or other consequences for me. Especially seeing as the content in question is not a direct copy, but has been modified. Dec 21, 2023 at 21:09
  • @GentlePurpleRain Oh!. Then, yes, it could. But that's true of any attempt to enforce legal rights. You might lose.
    – Dale M
    Dec 21, 2023 at 23:21
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Your content on Stack Exchange is under Creative Commons

You need to read the Terms of service.

Subscriber Content You agree that any and all content, including without limitation any and all text, graphics, logos, tools, photographs, images, illustrations, software or source code, audio and video, animations, and product feedback (collectively, “Content”) that you provide to the public Network (collectively, “Subscriber Content”), is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Overflow on a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive basis pursuant to Creative Commons licensing terms (CC BY-SA 4.0),

[...]

You should be aware that all Public Content you contribute is available for public copy and redistribution, and all such Public Content must have appropriate attribution.

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    The Creative Commons license in use by SE requires attribution, though, which the site in question appears to lack.
    – jwodder
    Dec 21, 2023 at 0:08

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