Last year, I created a derived work from published source code that was distributed unlicensed on a blog. Recently, I went back to the blog and noticed it was now licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Is my derived work also bound by share alike now?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it needs to be answered by an attorney specializing in copyright law.
    – user53019
    May 19, 2015 at 16:47
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    I'm voting to reopen this as it is not a terribly complex or narrow issue, and we are capable of answering this ourselves. May 19, 2015 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


A license doesn't restrict what you are allowed to do, a license gives you permission to do things that you would not be allowed to do without the license.

If that code had no license, then you had no right to use it, and creating a derived work was copyright infringement. You are lucky that it is now licensed.

  • This answer may be legally sound, but thinking about source code on bulletin boards, quite often I have made a change to some code (i.e. some unlicensed source code), and reposted my modified version to the forum (i.e. I therefore posted a derivative work). Lots of people do that, in fact. Does that mean we are all infringing on each other's copyright in such exchanges? It seems more likely there is some kind of implicit license going on when we post to such public forums.
    – Brandin
    May 19, 2015 at 18:58
  • @Brandin The lack of a stated license doesn't mean there's no license. By default it's protected. May 19, 2015 at 20:21
  • @LorenPechtel So that means when I take a piece of code posted on stackoverflow, modify it, and then repost my derivative version (with proper attribution of course), technically I am violating the unstated "protected" license.
    – Brandin
    May 19, 2015 at 20:44
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    @Brandin: 1), user contributions are licensed under cc-by-sa to begin with, and 2), most don't fulfill the rather low originality standards by US and EU copyright laws anyway. May 19, 2015 at 21:01
  • Thanks. I was hoping to use something more permissive like MIT, but I'm willing to respect the author's (implicit and explicit) decision to make it CC BY-SA.
    – DaSchwa
    May 19, 2015 at 22:11

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