[sword-devel] Copyright Scripture distribution

Michael Paul Johnson sword-devel@crosswire.org
Tue, 07 Dec 1999 07:00:02 -0700

In spite of Pergamum's and Brandon's excellent-sounding points, I have to 
agree with George & David with respect to our response to the copyright 
mess. Obviously, I would do things differently if I owned Zondervan, but I 
don't. I can, however, obey God's commands and still not violate the law of 
the land with respect to copyright, at least in the case of English. I 
can't think of a single more effective message to Zondervan and other 
commercial Bible publishers than creating a FREE modern English translation 
to compete with theirs that is better than what they offer. That is just a 
side-effect of following the Great Commission, however.

At 12:08 PM 12/7/99 +0200, George Washington Dunlap III wrote:
>On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, David Burry wrote:
> > You may interpret this any way you wish and I shall not argue.  That is
> > only between you, Zondervan, Cesear, and God!  ;-)
>"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether
>it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governorss, as unto them that are
>sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them
>that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put
>to silence the ignorance of foolish men.... Servants, be subject to your
>masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the
>froward." 1 Peter 2:13-15,18
>The clear command is to spread the news of the Gospel and to make
>disciples of all nations.  I have never seen a tract that quotes more than
>a chapter at a time, and rarely heard a sermon that does so.  I've never
>seen a book on discipleship or on holiness quote a chapter at a time
>either, and I can't really see the need to do so.  Short quotes are
>protected by "fair-use" law and in fact allowed by the licenses I've seen.
>Cheap bibles, even in the NIV, are easy to get; the one I use right now is
>"The NIV Quiet Time Bible" printed by InterVarsity; the binding is cheap
>and there are a couple of typos, but the cost was only $6.  And there are
>plenty of public domain or freely distributable texts for English.
>The point is, Pergamum, that the US law is not preventing you from obeying
>God's law.  We all seem to agree that the "masters" are being somewhat
>"froward", although we disagree on the degree.  That does not preclude us
>from obeying them.  Jesus told the disciples to do everything the
>Pharisees told them to do, but not to be like them.  When asked to pay
>tax, Jesus proved to Peter that the children of God do not need to pay
>tax; but then he paid it anyway.  Even if all your accusations against
>Zondervan and bible societies are true, since there is a way to obey the
>US law and God's law, you are required by God's law to do so.
>As for foreign translations, you can support the spread of the Word by
>supporting those societies.  If they are, as you allege, doing it only so
>that they can get glory for it, what is that to you?  In all ways, Christ
>is preached. (See Phillipians 1:15-18.)
>If you want to change the status quo, do it the right way.  Start a
>movement, write letters, write a book, start an e-mail list, join lobbying
>efforts.  Examine all the issues and problems facing bible societies,
>*listen* to the people in them when they explain why they do things, look
>at their lives and manner before you judge them.  The people in bible
>societies may be in error; but it cannot be that all the people in bible
>societies are selfish and unreasonable.  (If so, they can hardly be
>trusted to make a good translation of the Bible, being totally untouched
>by it.)  You might even join a bible society and see the work they do, and
>influence their policy from the inside.  They have real fears and hopes
>and aspirations. They may be going about it in the wrong way, but they are
>honestly trying to go about them.  Calling them names is hardly going to
>show them the error of their ways.
>Anyway, I think that this aspect of the thread should probably end soon...
>most of the developers agree that SWORD ought not to distribute
>copyrighted texts without permission, and it's doubtful that they will
>change their minds.  We will all end up sounding like skipping CD's if we
>keep this going.  Discussions of ways to work within the laws, or about
>discussing ways to contact or change the minds of the copyright holders
>are more to the point.
>In Him,
>  -George Dunlap


Michael Paul Johnson
mpj@eBible.org    http://ebible.org/mpj