Copyright license for default Terms of Service and FAQ?

What is the copyright license on the built-in/automagic/default Terms of Service and FAQ?

The Privacy Policy clearly (and kindly) says “This document is CC-BY-SA.” at the bottom, but there is no such declaration in the Terms of Service or FAQ pages.

I know that CDCK, Inc. will not ring my doorbell with a lawsuit if I modify these documents and use them on a discourse-powered site (since that is what I am intended to do). However, suppose I would like to modify them by adding verbiage from a CC-BY-SA document (e.g., the Wikipedia TOS) — then I would need to be able to declare that the result is published as CC-BY-SA. Can I do that?

(I suppose, since the TOS and FAQ are distributed in the discourse source code under the GPL, then they are at least GPL’d, which is something. But the GPL and CC-BY-SA don’t mix. Explicitly licensing the TOS and FAQ as CC-BY-SA would take care of this.)


Regarding the Privacy Policy, what version of the CC-BY-SA license is it talking about? Versions 2.0 and later are forward-compatible with future versions… but Version 1.0 is not (thus any adaptations of 1.0 material must remain 1.0 forever). (See the Compatible Licenses page at for details.)


In EU those aren’t protected because such ones aren’t a creative work per se. They can be, but it is quite rare situation. So… for me it is just doesn’t matter what kind licensing there or here is or isn’t :wink:

I’m guessing but I’m quite sure it is same thing in the States, but I don’t know for sure.

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(IANAL, etc…) As I understand things in the US, functional boilerplate language cannot be copyrighted (because there is no creative expression involved), but the documents in question here contain much more than functional boilerplate. The FAQ is not even a legal agreement; it is more of an essay describing the ideals for community participation.

Anyhow, it would be nice to get clarification from CDCK, Inc on the intent for licensing these documents. And, it would be even nicer if these documents were clearly licensed under a current CC-BY-SA license.

In the last two months, however, we have gone ahead and created our own derivative works — remixing Discourse works and Wikimedia works — which we will publish under the… GPLv3! This is not a great license for this kind of (non-software) documents, but it gets the job done. If we get the opportunity, we will gladly relicense our derivative works as CC-BY-SA-v4.

Why GPLv3? Well, it works like this:
  • The Discourse docs are published in the discourse source code under GPLv2-or-later, and thus can be relicensed as GPLv3.
  • The Wikimedia docs are published under CC-BY-SA-v3.
  • CC-BY-SA-v3 allows relicensing under later versions, thus, relicensing as CC-BY-SA-v4.
  • CC-BY-SA-v4 is deemed one-way compatible with GPLv3.
  • So, by treating both sources as GPLv3, we can create a GPLv3 derivative work. Tada!

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