I don't know if this question is on topic on Workplace Meta, but I didn't know where to ask else (perhaps meta stackexchange itself?).

I just only heard about the change of license that StackExchange is going to apply.

However, after a cursory reading, I still don't know what kind of change it's really going to bring in comparison to the previous license exactly...


2 Answers 2


Pyrotechnical's answer already covers why people are unhappy with the change, which is mostly unrelated to the new license itself and more to do with how SE announced the change of license on existing content.

As for the changes themselves, Tim Post's announcement of the change on MSE directs people to this blog post on creativecommons.org for a summary of the changes:

We proudly introduce our 4.0 licenses, now available for adoption worldwide. The 4.0 licenses — more than two years in the making — are the most global, legally robust licenses produced by CC to date. We have incorporated dozens of improvements that make sharing and reusing CC-licensed materials easier and more dependable than ever before.

We had ambitious goals in mind when we embarked on the versioning process coming out of the 2011 CC Global Summit in Warsaw. The new licenses achieve all of these goals, and more. The 4.0 licenses are extremely well-suited for use by governments and publishers of public sector information and other data, especially for those in the European Union. This is due to the expansion in license scope, which now covers sui generis database rights that exist there and in a handful of other countries.

Among other exciting new features are improved readability and organization, common-sense attribution, and a new mechanism that allows those who violate the license inadvertently to regain their rights automatically if the violation is corrected in a timely manner.

The blog post also directs readers to this article for a more in-depth explanation of the improvements in the Creative Commons Version 4.0 licenses. Rather than quote the entire text of the article, I'll just list the headers and quote a relevant sentence or two:

  • A more global license: "The 4.0 licenses are ready-to-use around the world, without porting."
  • Rights outside the scope of copyright: "Other rights beyond copyright can complicate the reuse of CC-licensed material. [...] Version 4.0 addresses this challenge through an open-ended but carefully tailored license grant that identifies categories of rights that could (if not licensed) interfere with reuse of the material."
  • Common-sense attribution: "The licenses explicitly permit licensees to satisfy the attribution requirement with a link to a separate page for attribution information."
  • Enabling more anonymity, when desired: "Version 3.0 included a provision allowing a licensor to request that a licensee remove the attribution from an adaptation, if she did not want her name associated with it. Version 4.0 expands that provision to apply not only to adaptations but also to verbatim reproductions of a work."
  • 30-day window to correct license violations: "All CC licenses terminate when a licensee breaks their terms, but under 4.0, a licensee’s rights are reinstated automatically if she corrects a breach within 30 days of discovering it."
  • Increased readability: "The 4.0 license suite is decidedly easier to read and understand than prior versions, not to mention much shorter and better organized."
  • Clarity about adaptations: "The BY and BY-NC 4.0 licenses are clearer about how adaptations are to be licensed, a source of confusion for some under the earlier versions of those licenses.

Hopefully this provides a decent summary of the differences in the license between versions 3.0 and 4.0. Note that Stack Exchange is using CC BY-SA 4.0 specifically, so some of the changes listed above may not be relevant to it. (I'm not a lawyer, but I hope you found this helpful.)


I apologize, but I'm going to give you a frame challenge answer whereby I assume your question is more along the lines of, "Why are people mad?" and then eventually get back to your question.

This answer is not comprehensive as I myself have only become aware of these issues in the past couple months and have not been able to devote the necessary time to fully understand things, however, this is what I have gleaned from the limited time I have spent following things:

  • There is a contentious relationship between high-rep individuals and moderators (hereafter Users) with Stack Exchange on the corporate level (hereafter SE);
  • The Users complaints stem from issues such as racism, sexism, and other '-isms' being inadequately addressed by SE;
  • SE's response to some of these issues has been to issue an updated Code of Conduct (CoC) that presumably addressed the issue;
  • Prior to the rollout of the CoC, SE terminated a long-time moderator on the basis that she had violated the CoC and then proceeded to defame her in the press (this was substantially worsened because the moderator's username is the same as her real name);
  • Over the past several years, SE has taken a more corporate tone deferring away from User input in favor of others whom focus on increasing profits;
  • Back in September, SE rolled out a change to the Creative Commons License V4 (CC) and applied it to all posts both past and present. Many Users are irritated by this as no attempt was made by SE to secure their permission to apply the updated CC License to content prior to September.

On that last point, from the perspective of Users, this is just another act by SE to impose their preferences at the expense of Users. While the V4 is better than V3, the lack of requested permission is the hinge of the argument and is yet another act by SE to assert control over intellectual property that is not theirs.

  • 4
    "and then eventually get back to your question.", but you never do get back to the actual question? What are the differences for the licenses? You just say you think it's better
    – Draken
    Jan 30, 2020 at 8:30

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