I've not found this asked, so apologies if I've missed it...

Is it appropriate to link to web copies of commercial documents, where the publishing of that document is breaching copyright or licensing?

By way of example, in this thread PeterK has linked to a university copy of ISO12207 (the document includes the statement Single user license only, copying and networking prohibited)

I appreciate that the WWW is a bit wild-west at times, but surely we should be upholding copyright and/or license restrictions in our Q&A?

Updated: naughty link in referenced post now deleted

  • 1
    Wait, why is a standard (especially an ISO standard) copyrighted?
    – TheLQ
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 22:43
  • Perhaps that's a question for another thread...?! But (as commented below) having spent a lot of time over the past few years (and others have spent even more) working on the new MISRA guidelines, I have sympathy with both sides of the fence.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 4:33
  • Opps, didn't even read those comments. The linked question explains it enough
    – TheLQ
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 6:46

1 Answer 1



We should respect the copyright of the original documents. This includes not copying and linking to the official sources rather than something "unofficial".

If nothing else the official link is likely to be more stable.

The documentation should also be summarised in the answer so that if the link does go dark we still have a useful answer.

  • Thanks... I assumed as much; and the referenced post has been updated also.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 13:11
  • 2
    +1. It's very annoying that some "open" standards are not freely available. But we have to obey the law. We might also choose to campaign for the standards to be made open.
    – MarkJ
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 14:09
  • Availability of standards is a tricky issue, I agree... but having spent a lot of time over the past few years working pro bono on the new MISRA C:2012 guidelines does give me the perspective from the other side, too
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 18:55

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