[sword-devel] Copyrighted Texts Summary

Jerry Hastings sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 03 Dec 1999 11:02:26 -0700

At 12:16 PM 12/3/1999 +0200, George Washington Dunlap III wrote:

>The difference there was, if you wanted a copy of the bible, and had the
>time to copy it yourself, you were free to do so.  

One is still free to do that. Just don't copy a copyrighted translation,
use a public domain one.

>I seem to remember something in the Qur'an condemning certain Jews
>of Mohammed's time for asking money to see The Book (i.e., the Torah)...
>but then, I guess we aren't Muslims. =)

And there were the money changers in the temple that in a way put a toll
booth in the way of those seeking God. 

>I've thought for a long time that "intellectual property" laws are a
>little excessive.  

I very much agree with you here. 

>And it sounds, from the descriptions I've heard here,
>that Biblical translation copyright holders put excessive restrictions on
>their translations.

Again, I agree. But consider this. If you decide to use copyright to
protect a work you need to defend the copyright And there are many reasons
to protect, such as, preventing people from editing it. You probably would
not want someone to change "was God" to "was a god" and then pass it on to
others. Part of copyright law is "fair use". Publishing restrictions in a
work does not limit fair use. (Though they look like they do.) The rights
you end up with when you combine the restrictions with fair use is which
ever allows the most use. Fair use limits are not at all clear. By having
the restriction you know your use will not be challenged if you keep within
the restrictions. And by challenging those that go beyond the restrictions
the copyright holder prevents the work from falling into the public domain.
But the copyright holder probably does not want to hear about every little
violation of the restrictions. If you go into a park and quote a little too
much or put a little too much on your church bulletin, they don't want to
hear about it. But if they do hear, then they may need to challenge your
use, (probably with a cease and desist notice). This is a way for them to
defend their work from becoming public domain and to keep it protected.

>Note that it is part of ours system to use civil disobedience to
>challenge certain laws; so if you have the money, time, and intent to take
>Zondervan through the courts, then doing something to prompt a lawsuit is
>acceptable, IMHO (except maybe for the prohibition against suing other
>Christians in 1 Corinthians).

There are many things we may be free to do, but what is the wise one.
Putting time, money and effort into a court fight may not be the best way
to get the most Scripture into the hearts of people.

>Once electronic versions become popular, I think a nationwide campaign
>to loosen the restrictions placed on Scripture could happen, and would be
>a great benefit.  

In the mean time, let us get as many people to heaven on the FREEway as
possible, but if we can get some more there by taking some through the
Zondervan toll booth then do it and let the people at Zondervan answer to
God if there is a problem with the toll.

>Ah well... we are in His hands.

Amen to that!