Interesting questions, answers and ideas overflow everywhere in MathOverflow. Users can use them in their lectures, papers, teachings, etc. Of course it is the main propose of this free math encyclopedia to help its users in their research areas by providing a wide range of information freely. But ethically any use of such information should be based on a direct refer to MathOverflow and corresponding authors. Now there are some questions:

Q1. What are MathOverflow official copyright policies and protocols?

Q2. Is there any known case of serious misuse of the scientific or personal information of users in the history of MathOverflow?

Q3. What are the legal tools of MathOverflow to prevent abusing of the scientific and private information of the users?

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    $\begingroup$ You find answers to some of your questions if you click on the links "legal" and "privacy policy" at the bottom of this page. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ See also meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/402/… and answers for Q1. For Q2: I do not know about any. For Q3: see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/200177/… for the issue on the network in general (in particular SO seems to have frequent trouble with this). I am not sure this is exactly the same for MO, but if you notice some massive violation of the CC license I would report it here on meta or to moderators directly. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ The questions raised when I tried to introduce MO to a researcher in our institute. He simply asked: "Is it safe to use?" $\endgroup$
    – user42090
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ For 3, the legal link (under section 3) says they can take certain actions for any reason or no reason at all. I think that means without giving a reason; could they prove they had no reason to take action...? $\endgroup$
    – user25199
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 10:05
  • $\begingroup$ Let me also point out meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/952/… for a problematic point in the terms of service. Short synopsis: in the way they are currently phrased, you cannot even use your own contributions to MO in a paper or book, unless it's licensed under CC BY-SA. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ The most interesting question to me is Q3. What are the legal tools to prevent abusing of the scientific information published in mainstream journals? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


All user content on MathOverflow is licensed under CC BY-SA as indicated at the bottom of each page, but the copyrights of content contributed by a user remain with the user as explained here.

The Stack Exchange privacy policy applies to MathOverflow as well as every network site. The privacy policy details what information is collected from users and how that information can be used. In particular, you will see that Stack Exchange is dedicated to complying with the US-EU Safe Harbor principles.

Other than one or two takedown notices by commercial publishers, there have been no court cases or similar legal actions involvong MathOverflow.

  • $\begingroup$ Dear @François: I am curious. Could you please describe the nature of the takedown notices which have been directed at mathoverflow? Thank you very much. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ The only one in the past two years involved a question copied verbatim from a qualification test. The test publisher notified us via email and we deleted the question. Moderators are no longer handle takedown notices but there is a plan for the SE network to release information on takedown notices: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/177269/… $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer Francois. $\endgroup$
    – user42090
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @StGeorg: No need to thank me, your accept was sufficient. In fact, it's best to avoid 'thank you' comments, especially with moderators since we get enough notifications and we don't need extra noise. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ OK. I will note to this point in the next comments. $\endgroup$
    – user42090
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 17:34

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