Today I posted a canned comment on this link only answer, stating that

it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.

The author of the answer reacted by copying & pasting a large section of that knowledge base article into the answer, which, while it certainly improves the answer a great deal, violates VMwares copyright on that article.

Is this a legal problem for SF? or just for the author of the answer? How should such answers be handled?

  • Note that the answer has been edited and the problem fixed.
    – Sven
    May 6, 2019 at 9:27

1 Answer 1


The text says to include the essential parts of the answer. If the author of the answer does that and only that, it would fall under the fair use doctrine - see the U.S. Copyright Office's information on Fair Use. But if the author, as you say, copies and pastes a large portion of copyrighted text, presenting it as their own, that would be both legally and morally wrong.

When you discover plagiarism or copyright violation, you should flag it to the moderators and let them decide how to take actions. See e.g. "Possible plagiarism detected?" and "Post deleted due to DMCA notice" on meta.SO.

  • 2
    ah, plagiarism was not a term I was search for before asking the question. I was searching for copyright and infringement and couldn't find anything. I guess we can close this as a duplicate to your linked question then, so others can find it more easily in the future May 6, 2019 at 8:37
  • Well, the questions/answers I linked are on meta.SO, not meta.SF, so I don't know if we can close it as duplicate.
    – Jenny D
    May 6, 2019 at 8:39
  • I looked over there since it seemed to me that it's a network-wide question rather than a site question.
    – Jenny D
    May 6, 2019 at 8:39
  • Closing as duplicate only works within a site, for some reason.
    – Sven
    May 6, 2019 at 8:40
  • 3
    /me considers copying and pasting the answer from the dupe. :-p May 14, 2019 at 4:27
  • @tudor all the answers here on the site are licensed to StackOverflow in perpetuity, so that would probably actually be legally OK :-) (though it would generally be considered polite to include an attribution to the original author)
    – Jenny D
    May 14, 2019 at 10:30

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