When I notice that a question, answer or comment links to something relevant, but obviously made available in violation of someone's copyright (like a full book complete with scanned copyright page prohibiting distribution), should I react, and how?

Does it matter if an " I'm lucky " Google query with the work's title gets to the same URL?

Same for some image that shows without user interaction (using e.g. ![description][1]) obviously made available in violation of a copyright (like an extract of a book, when either the image itself or the context makes the violation obvious)?

Any guideline on the obviousness threshold?

Note: this is not asking how to formally report a copyright violation; in particular, I'm assuming that I am NOT authorized to make the complaint on behalf of the copyright owner, which entirely prevents me from following this procedure.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm sure you've seen it, but related comment from a SE mod $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2014 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ Just guessing, but I’m pretty sure this solves the problem – unless there’s some other link I’ve missed. (lesson learned: never, ever blindly trust the first and topmost link Google presents.) Btw.: the image-snippet is quoted and should normally be regarded to be “fair use“ as OP obviously owns the book. Also, the question includes a referring link to the publisher website which directly promotes the related book from which the quote origins. In the unlikely case the publisher thinks different, a DMCA takedown request would be appropriate… $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Feb 27, 2014 at 6:37
  • $\begingroup$ Treat this as plagiarism, which is against site rules. Search on the main StackExchange and you'll find the default rules on plagiarism and how to handle it: post a comment asking the author to attribute sources, and flag it for moderator attention. Moderators don't handle accusations of copyright violation, but they do handle accusations of plagiarism. (Incidentally, you can also downvote if you so choose; that's a personal choice.) $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    May 10, 2014 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


Stack Exchange Terms of Service (section 15) contains probably the most "official" response from Stack Exchange on the topic, which is to submit a DMCA take down.

StackOverflow's meta has also discussed this and I think this answer discusses many of the intricacies.

You as a user can always remove the offending material (anyone can edit questions and answers for any reason) but preserve the meaning of a question or answer or it would be reverted. In other words, someone should not edit an answer to say removed due to copyright infringement. I don't know if it is possible, however, for regular users to edit comments.

As far as links say a link to a scanned book, since the offending material is merely linked to but not posted on this site, maybe a good tactic would be to link to somewhere where a user can legitimately purchase the material.

  • $\begingroup$ We can't edit comments, but we can flag them as inappropriate etc $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2014 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ Correct. The DMCA process is how copyright holders should request copyright material be removed. In general, deleting comments is a better practice than editing. It's just not worth the hassle. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2014 at 17:04

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