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Thank you to everyone who commented, DMed, voted, or otherwise gave feedback on our proposal to change the Forum license! While we are unlikely to come up with a solution that’s perfect for everyone, it seems like there was broad support for a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license.

I would particularly like to thank everyone who argued in favor of dropping the “noncommercial” clause – we found those arguments compelling, and are planning to follow your advice.

We are excited about all the people who are translating Forum posts, reading them in podcasts, and creating other derivative works, and we want to be sure that they are legally protected. We also know that authors generally use the Forum because they want others to share and build upon their ideas, and our job as a Forum is to enable that to happen.

Therefore, as of December 1, 2022, we are requiring that all content posted to the Forum be available under a CC BY 4.0 license.

What does this mean if I want to translate or remix Forum content?

tl;dr: you must credit the original author in a way that does not imply they endorse your changes. E.g.:

Translated from Why CEA Online doesn’t outsource more work to non-EA freelancers by Ben West under CC-BY 4.0

Creative Commons has more information about best practices for attribution.

How will this affect previously posted material?

By default, we will not change the license for anything posted before December 1, 2022. 

If an author wants to make it clear that their work is free to reuse, they can add a license clause at the bottom of their posts, even those posted before December 1, 2022. Additionally, some projects (run by CEA and other organizations or individuals) may want to reach out to some authors about reusing their past work; we will be able to add a license clause at the bottom of old Forum posts, when the author gives permission.

You can do this proactively, and without our involvement, too: if you are an author, we encourage you to include a license clause in your older posts so that others can reuse your work! All you need to do is add the following clause — you can see an example of this in this post of mine:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

What if I want to use a different license?

We are currently not planning on adding a more complicated “menu” of licenses content can be published under. If you wish to publish under a different license, we encourage you to instead create a link-post to an external page which has the appropriate license (link-posting will not make the linked content published under the CC BY license). 

I am only able to find two historical instances of Forum authors choosing to publish under a specific license, and one of those was using CC BY. In general, the authors we’ve contacted have been overwhelmingly supportive of sharing their work, although we are aware of some strong reasons why CC BY is not the best fit for all use cases.

Effective altruism is an intellectual community, and people usually post on the Forum precisely because they want others to build upon and share their ideas. As a global community whose members are almost universally not experts in copyright law, we want to be able to give simple, uniform guidance about how Forum content can be reused.

What if I have another concern or question?

I encourage you to comment below! You can also contact us through emailintercom, etc.

Thank you!

A goal of the EA Forum is to let authors better share their ideas with the world. I’m excited about projects that remix Forum content in new ways to better accomplish that: podcaststranslationsfellowship curricula, and more. 

I know that the last thing your volunteer translation group wants to do is dive into the intricacies of international copyright law, and I hope that having simple, easy rules about remixing Forum content will help all of us make the world a better place.


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I'd like all my prior posts to have this license (unless they're linkposts to things I didn't write, I guess), but don't want to take the time to manually add that to all my posts. Could the Forum team do some fancy code magic such that then you can quickly apply add license statement at the bottom of all posts by a given author if they opt in to that?

Thanks for this suggestion! This is not currently on our priority list, but I would appreciate others commenting on/upvoting Michael's comment to give us some sense of how many people would be interested in doing this if we built the feature


The main text from the CC BY 4.0 link above:

You are free to:

Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format

Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following terms:

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.


(Ben_West, feel free to delete this comment if not including a summary of the license on this page was a deliberate decision or if you otherwise think it's unhelpful.)

I just didn't want to make the post even longer. Thanks for including it as a comment!

Starting December 1, will it be obvious when writing a post that it'll be CC BY 4.0, so that authors won't need to have happened to read this post to know?

Going to "New Post" now, it looks like you have to explicitly consent:

EDIT: This seems to have disappeared for me, and generally be inconsistent/buggy right now (see also Elliot's comment below). I think fixing this is pretty important.

That said, this is not the case for comments currently.

Do you have the link to the terms of use? I have been unable to find it so far. EDIT: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/termsOfUse

I see that most of EVF orgs' own content (CEA, GWWC, 80k, etc.) is still under a default "all rights reserved" license. I feel like it's a bit unfair to expect us to release our content on the Forum under a CC license but not do so yourselves. Do you have any plans to change this?

Yeah, good flag. I think most of what CEA writes publicly these days is posted on the Forum, so available for reuse under CC-BY for that reason, but we are working on getting the intro essay stuff from effectivealtruism.org under CC-BY as well. (There are a bunch of different authors, and many of them have other priorities right now, so it takes a while to get sign off from everyone.)

I can't speak for other organizations, but I definitely would encourage them to transition to a "free culture" license, and would be happy to chat about our process for doing so with them if that's helpful.

I just wrote some comments today without being informed they would use the CC BY license, and I don't want to license them that way. I guess I should go delete them? But I don't think the license is revokable, so does that even work? But I never consented to the license so it shouldn't be in force in the first place...

Then I went to put up a post, which I'd already finished writing, and a thing about the license popped up. I did not agree to it, the popup is gone now, and I can't get it back by reloading the page or starting a new post again.

I see nothing by the posting or commenting forms that persistently notifies people about the license. Just the one-time popup that disappears forever(?) even if not agreed to.

This is not OK.

Also basically I don't want to use the forum anymore because I don't want to use the CC BY license :(

Oh, yeah, the tick-box also disappeared for me without my ticking on it, but I can still submit a new post. Weird. Probably a bug?

I do think making sure the licensing requirement is clear to all posters is pretty important.

Thanks for reporting this! I believe the issue is now fixed. I am looking into what to do for people who tried to post earlier today while the issue was active. Edit: We've reset the opt-in for anyone who used it this morning, so you will have to check the box again. I apologize for the inconvenience.

If I post a quote here, the quoted text won't be CC BY licensed, right? Even if I'm the author and I'm quoting myself?

What if quote an entire article written by myself? Could I then post the full article text here without it becoming CC BY licensed, and without enabling anyone else to quote the entire thing (it's a fair use violation for them to do it, but not for me to)?

The CC license only covers Licensed Rights that the Licensor owns or is authorized to grant to the user. It does not come with a guarantee (or warranty) that the user has all the rights necessary to use the material. So no, third-party copyrights are not covered by the license.

However, Creative Commons (the organization) recommends that:

Licensors should also secure all rights necessary before applying our licenses so that the public can reuse the material as expected. Licensors should clearly mark any material not subject to the license. This includes other CC-licensed material, or material used under an exception or limitation to copyright.


You also irrevocably waive any “moral rights” or other rights with respect to attribution of authorship or integrity of materials for Your Content. When we make public use of Your Content, we will, where practical, use good faith efforts to credit you as the original author of Your Content.

Wait your terms say you are allowed to delete my name from my posts and use my content without attribution. Why? And is this new or old? Where can I read change history of the terms or something like that? The good faith thing seems basically nonbinding/meaningless legally, and also doesn't apply whenever you decide it's impractical or you're doing something privately.

Why do you want people to waive moral rights? I saw the same thing in Less Wrong's terms today but did not find any explanation of the upside.

Hi Elliot, your quote cuts off the "Subject to section 2.2" qualifier, which is the section that discusses the Creative Commons license.

We've tried to give a simple summary of the license in this post, but I might suggest talking to a lawyer if you have questions about legal terms; for example "good faith" is not meaningless legally, it is a well defined term of art.

You want me to talk to a lawyer to know how quotes and your new CC BY stuff works? (E.g. if I quote from my own article while link posting it, possibly the entire thing, does that keep anything quoted out of CC BY?) You aren't willing to clarify that yourselves and just want individuals to go pay lawyers to find out how your forum works? That seems very unreasonable.


Subject to Section 2.2, [a bunch of stuff]. You also irrevocably waive any “moral rights”

That qualifier doesn't appear to apply to the moral right waiving.

Does the EA forum have a terms of use document, or something similar, which gives details of the new (and old) rules? I couldn't find it with a quick search. EDIT: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/termsOfUse

How do quotes interact with CC BY?


If you have an Account (defined below) with us, we will try to give you reasonable notice of major changes through your Account or the contact information associated with your Account.

So EA violated this term – they could have emailed or DMed me but didn't, and also gave no notice when i commented.

Also the terms don't specify that the CC BY stuff doesn't apply before dec 1, 2022. They should. Someone reading the terms might think that all the old stuff is CC BY and act accordingly. The terms should also include the relevant text from the older terms so people know what terms still, today, govern all the older posts. Deleting the terms that still actively govern older posts today from the terms of use doesn't make sense.

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