Some colleagues and I are creating a database of LaTeX based graphs (TikZ, PgfPlots, etc) to be used in Economics (by students, academics, professionals, etc). This will be an online database, freely accessible to anyone. Code will be licensed under open-source license.

Although some graphs are being done by us, we are thinking to taking some examples from this site. As far as we understand, this is a valid/legal action, as long as we license the content using CC. I'm a bit puzzled however by the following phrase in the ToS:

You may download or copy the public Network Content, and other items displayed on the public Network for download or personal use provided that you maintain all copyright and other notices contained in such Public Content.

We can provide the code with that license, but just as anyone can come to this site and use the code for commercial or other uses without proper licensing, they can do the same in our case. But that is surely not our responsibility, is it?

  • Possibly interesting in case you use code by a user listed there: tex.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1255/35864 – moewe Sep 2 at 7:35
  • IANAL, but I would guess your situation would be similar to say Wikimedia when they take CC content from a different site (say flickr for photographs). Note that even though the CC by-sa 3.0 allows you some freedoms there are strict requirements about mentioning the author and the license when you re-use the work and that should not be taken lightly (cf. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…, I'm not claiming that Wikipedia's summary of events is entirely accurate, the case seems to have been slightly more complicated). – moewe Sep 2 at 7:44
  • Again, IANAL, but if you adhere to the terms of the license, it would be unreasonable to hold you responsible for other people's missteps. (But the law and court decisions need not be reasonable ...) Of course the situation would be different if people can claim that your website mislead them about the actual license of the contents, so you want to make sure that everything is above board. If I were you I would also be extremely cautious when taking content from TeX.SX because you don't know whether those posting here are actually the copyright holders. – moewe Sep 2 at 7:53
  • So if you unwittingly copy code from TeX.SX that was itself a copyright infringement wrongly thinking it is CC by-sa licensed you might still be in trouble. (Again IANAL.) – moewe Sep 2 at 7:54
  • Anyway, people can't give legal advice here, so this may well be off-topic and should probably be closed as such. – moewe Sep 2 at 7:54
  • That all said, you could contact the author of each snippet you intend to use to check the copyright status and ask for their permission. But even then you probably need to make sure this is watertight (make sure you are really speaking to the copyright owner, save the conversation so you can refer to it if bad things happen ...) to cover your backside in case something goes wrong. – moewe Sep 2 at 8:10
  • @moewe Thanks! Had to google IANAL to get meaning. Can you ever (legally) use copyrighted code in a SE answer without acknowledging the owner? Surely SE forbids this. – luchonacho Sep 2 at 8:11
  • Mhhh, I guess technically you would have to be able to license what you write under CC by-sa 3.0 here and of course legally you must obey the copyright laws of your country. (You may want to check how many answers here acknowledge the fact that they created a derivative work of the MWE in the answer in a CC by-sa-3.0 compatible way.) My point is that if I were to re-use code from this site on a large scale I would want to make sure that the content I take is actually licensed under CC by-sa (and not a copyright infringement in the first place). – moewe Sep 2 at 9:26
  • You do know about texample.net/tikz/examples and its sister sites, right? – Johannes_B Sep 2 at 11:37
  • @Johannes_B I was aware of that one, but for some reason I thought it more taylored to other sciences. We will have a look again. Which sister sites? – luchonacho Sep 2 at 13:24
  • @luchonacho Regarding sister sites: When we got more plotting examples on TeXample.net, originally focused on TikZ, I decided to put pgfplots examples (TikZ, but specific syntax and its own interface and capabilities) to their own site, pgfplots.net. Then I used the same site layout for a PStricks gallery with examples available on CTAN, but removed it for a reason. So I used that server for examples from my book, LaTeX-Cookbook.net. That's why there are 3 similar sites. – Stefan Kottwitz Sep 17 at 15:04
  • @luchonacho Many of the TeXample.net TikZ examples were sent in via email by contributors. Btw. I asked SE if they would like to support TeXample server costs a bit and in return that would be a promoting gallery for TeX.SE regarding the most used tag #1, but that didn't happen. I startet adding some examples of authors on TeX.SE, but then stopped since I could not spend much effort to create a backlink generator promotion site for StackExchange. Author attribution is important to me, I just don't like so much that SE requires follow backlinks but allows only nonfollow links on SE itself. – Stefan Kottwitz Sep 17 at 15:10
  • @luchonacho You could put your own examples into the TeXample.net gallery if you think it's a good place. Regarding this, and other possible options, you can contact me at stefan@latex.org if you like. – Stefan Kottwitz Sep 17 at 15:14

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