[sword-devel] Important! Texts from Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, please help!

The Schmidts sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 05 Feb 2000 15:04:18 -0500

Torsten Uhlmann wrote:

> I got this reply from Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft concerning my two questions
> (encryption / modulte texts for Windows as well)
> I hope this is no problem.
> Yes! This is a problem. For the Windows-sector we have own products on the market.
> They are so powerful and bulletproofed that from our view there is no real need for more
> programs. Such a step must be thought of very well. Next to the pure costs there are costs

    My (Jeff Schmidt's) initial reactions to this:

1)Is it illegal, in Germany, to attempt to split markets this way? (I.e. in the USA vs
Microsoft [yes I know DB is not in the USA, but doesn't Deuthscheland have similar anti-trust
laws?] One of the points that was brought up was that Microsoft offered to [illegally in US]
split the market by saying you take Unix browser mkt and we'll take windows)

2)Personally, I'm in favor of a ThML-centric world. . . while this wouldn't exactly help us
_right now_ I think we should work with the ThML people to encourage vendors (including us ;-)
to switch their bible programs over to using ThML/XML and get text vendors to put their texts
in ThML format.  This would provide much value to consumers/christians, in the form of choice
of what program _they_ wish to choose.

Which leads to 3) _Who_ is the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft to (uni-laterally) decide that
they've created such a perfect program that the world never needs another one?  You might say,
"the copyright holder", and you'd be correct; however, it might(?) be illegal to use one
monopoly (the legally obtained monopoly of copyright) to enforce another monopoly (bible study
software).  In any case, it is unethical,
both from the secular standpoint of free-market economics/competition, and from the standpoint
that they are abusing copyright over Bible texts, of all things, to enforce a monopoly in a
separate product.  I mean, if someone is willing to pay you a reasonable royalty for a
copyrighted work (I'm not even going to deal with the legitimacy of copyrighting bible
translations as I think we've discussed that enough ;-), especially Bible Texts,  you,
ethically, should license that work to them irregardless of what reader they use to access
that.  If you want to sell Bible Study software, compete on technical merit, not on abusive
licensing restrictions.

With all that said, I personally would rather not deal with such an arrogant entity,
especially one that is _supposed_ to be a christian organization.  However, this is something
the rest of you will have to decide for yourselves.  We can take the tack that, in the same
vein that the Free Software Foundation did the original development of GNU using non-free
systems, because that was all that was available at the time, and they, even now port their
software to run on top of non-free systems, because they know that it is important to meet
people where they are at in order to get them to think more about freedom; likewise, we could
work with DB and other publishers, and jump through the hoops of creating separate encryption
keys for the two platforms (a real kludge if you ask me ;-) in order to serve the community of
believers in whatever, limited, way we can.  I just hate to see injustice though, and it seems
extremely unjust that they should use their copyright on God's word (which they _should_ be
attempting to disseminate by whatever means possible) not to just collect funds to support
their translation works, but to try to control who can make bible study tools, and,
ultimately, limit the possibilities for further dissemination of His Word.

I would like to add as an aside, that personally, I don't mind too much what people do with
copyrights for any other kind of work, i.e. commentary, devotional guide, map, etc. but I
really hate to see abuse of copyright over Bible translations.  It makes me extremely sad, and
angry, simultaneously.

> for consulting and transparency. The question is, whether the sources are the same for
> Windows and Unix and if there are possibilities to use the data only with one of the
> operating systems?
> To offer texts for a Windows-Program is because of the mentioned points another step
> for us, which we need to think about very carefully, which also had implications on
> the price of the offered texts.

WHAT ON EARTH does _that_ mean: "which also had implications on the price of the offered
texts".  Does that mean they are going to charge more to use it on windows than Unix, or
vice-versa?  That doesn't seem right.  If they are charging money for texts in order to
support translation works (possibly a legitimate reason for charging a royalty on the Bible),
they really shouldn't be charging different amounts depending on what you use to view it.  The
cost of translation is the same no matter what platform you use.  It sounds to me like they
are just trying to figure out how to milk the market, but maybe I'm too cynical.

> kind regards,
> Torsten Uhlmann
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> TUhlmann@debis.com
> TUhlmann@gmx.de
> http://www.bibletime.de
> http://www.tuhlmann.purespace.de
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Wise men still seek him!

Jeff Schmidt
May God help us all.