I have a gig as a web writer. While I've done what I can to make sure I write about content I'm not presently reading about here, it's inevitable that my time here will influence what I write. While I don't believe in plagiarism by any means I am curious about how copyright works with the RPG.SE site. Though I'm curious about a few different points, I'm very cautious to not simply write about what I've been reading over here for the month or so prior.

How would one go about citing someone else's question/answer as a source, or even the site for that matter? I believe that inclusion in another non-fair use work requires permission and thus contact with that person.

Does this site fall squarely under fair use? Is there somewhere else on Stack Exchange that I can learn about the nuances of this?

I really have no desire to lose my position or tread on anyone's toes here. While I told a new user there was no such thing as a stupid question earlier this morning, I remembered that there is. The one that's not asked.


2 Answers 2


The bottom of every page has a licensing/copyright notice:

user contributions licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required

But that's just for straight-up copying of text…

(I am not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice, retain a lawyer if you're unsure, etc., etc., ad nauseum.)

For fair-use quoting (research, critique, etc.), such as is normally done in research papers and the like, normal citation practices would be acceptable.

For mere inspiration, there is no need to quote or attribute, not legally. There is no copyright on influences, and ideas cannot be copyrighted; and the licensing terms only kick in once you're in the realm of copyright protection. Unless you have an eidetic memory and can't help but repeat what you remember word-for-word, you are fine to use the ideas in your memory entirely without licensing encumbrance or state copyright protection being relevant. Like a science fiction author who is inspired by their forebears, it's polite and classy to acknowledge one's influences, but that's more a matter of maintaining community and esteem, not law.

The big copyright holders of the world would have us believe that copyright is a right to dictate absolutely how something is used in every way and in perpetuity, and many people have begun to believe their pervasive propaganda, but the bare truth is that it merely protects the words written or images created, nothing more. Unless you start by making a direct copy and then edit (which counts as "derivativation") and then claim that it's your own work, copyright just doesn't apply.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 didn't see that, either. Aye, I do know that on inspiration. Hence to avoid close copying I just give it a while so that only the ideas stick instead of long strings of verbatim. I agree about the major copyright holders. Once I learned how simple it all was there was a bit of disappointment for having been duped for so long. Few people on here write novels anyway but I wasn't sure how protected content might or might not be. \$\endgroup\$
    – LitheOhm
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 17:42

The Stack Exchange Network Terms of Service, section 3 and 15 are particularly relevant. I believe that most things said here are covered under CC although it is worth checking.

If you are really concern, I would consult a lawyer. If you have a publisher/agent, they can advise you as it's part of their job.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 so far the advice I sought from the place I write for hasn't been very helpful. I've been wont to bring it up again. Thank you, I hadn't even read this yet \$\endgroup\$
    – LitheOhm
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 12:05

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