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I saw the question previously asked in:

Who owns my MathOverflow posts?

Unfortunately, I was not able to get a clear answer by reading the responses to that question, as other people had commented that the answer provided was incorrect and there was doubt about what the correct answer was. Can anyone provide an updated and clear answer?

Actually, I have a more specific question in this regard. If the author of a question on MathOverflow owns that question, then the author should be able to edit his/her own question in any way that he/she wants, including removing it completely and replacing it (literally) with the word Hello, for example. But I know that MathOverflow does not allow this kind of editing. So once a question has been posted and answered, the author cannot be the owner (at least this is the implication of the example of the extreme editing that I mentioned). Is MathOverflow the owner then? And what does this ownership mean? If the author is the owner, then why can MathOverflow restrict the amount of editing?

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    $\begingroup$ Ultimately, it is the concept itself of "ownership" that does not work well for sequences of 0 and 1s. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2023 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni Try "legal liability" instead of "ownership" ;-) $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2023 at 17:53

1 Answer 1

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Your post is not a tangible thing, and bears no concept of a single “owner” who could decide anything and everything concerning the post. Rather, there are multiple rights associated with the post that are held by multiple parties:

  • You hold the copyright to the post content. This means that others cannot distribute the post or derived works without your permission (but see the next point). You are free to publish the post or its modified versions anywhere else you see fit (as long as you either own the means of publication, or their owner agrees with it, of course).

  • Stack Exchange holds broad rights to distribute and otherwise use the post and its derived versions. You (the copyright holder) gave them these rights under the Terms of Service that you agreed with by posting the content here. You also agreed to give everybody similar distribution rights under the terms of the CC-BY-SA licence.

  • MathOverflow the corporation owns the mathoverflow.net domain and rights to the MathOverflow name. They give Stack Exchange the right to use them under certain terms.

  • Stack Exchange owns the servers that run the site. This gives them the right to decide what content to publish on the website, subject to legal and contractual obligations (including the above-mentioned user content licences and the agreement between Stack Exchange and MathOverflow). They delegate this right to users and moderators of the site under the various rules established on the site. Thus, in particular:

    If the author of a question on MathOverflow owns that question, then the author should be able to edit his/her own question in any way that he/she wants, including removing it completely and replacing it (literally) with the word Hello, for example.

    No, the author cannot do that, unless authorized so by Stack Exchange. That is, the author, being the copyright holder, can edit the question in any way they want and publish it on their own website, but they cannot post it here unless they conform to the rules of this site.

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  • $\begingroup$ @MartinKealey "MathOverflow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is therefore capable of accepting tax-deductible donations from individuals, corporations and unions." [ source ] $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2023 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ @RodrigodeAzevedo - I stand corrected, thankyou. Does that mean it's a "company" or something else? (non-profits where I live are almost never called "companies") Do you know how many of the domain names are held by entities other than Stack Exchange? $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2023 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ Changed the misleading “company” to “corporation”, thanks for pointing it out. $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2023 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ It is unfortunate that MathOverflow has entered into an intimate relationship with a deeply morally corrupt organization. $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2023 at 5:20

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