[sword-devel] Re: Copyright and STRONGS

Brandon Staggs sword-devel@crosswire.org
Tue, 4 Jul 2000 23:29:55 -1000

> I can't speak for American copyright law, but for British and Australian
> law, there is definitely _no_ requirement that creativity be involved.


> They cited an example where a list of football games was published in a
> newspaper for a tipping competition (for those of you who aren't
> familiar with such things, they are informal gambling cooperatives among
> members of the same workplace or other organisation).  There was no

In the United States, a telephone company tried suing a publisher who copied
exactly their phone book and sold it. They lost in court, and the judge
specifically said that the time involved was irrelevant -- it was a factual
list of names and numbers, and was not at all creative -- simply in
alphabetical order.

> Similarly, language dictionaries have as part of their reason for being
> the need to be distinctly _un-creative_ (i.e. they exist to reflect
> accepted usage, not new or original forms).  Yet copyright is frequently
> asserted over them, and with good reason, because they are a huge
> undertaking that deserves some protection in the publishing arena for a
> period of time.

I believe a dictionary is a creative work -- that's why some are better than

As for Strong's numbers: (from a different message from someone else)
I would think that the original numbering system is PD now (since it is so
old), and the information that is represented by keying it to the KJV is
factual, not creative. It certainly is a time-consuming task to create such
a list, but does not represent a creative work, and if you check your
(printed) Strong's concordance, you'll see that it is definatly not
original. The printed edition has the Strong's number for each word in the
concordance with the position in the verse indicated. For someone to key
this into the KJV is simply a digitizing of what is already in the Strong
concordance. Even correcting a few errors wouldn't make this a creative

And it is relevant, since the Online Bible asserts copyright ownership of
the Strong's numbers keyed into the KJV text which SWORD uses -- though it
is unclear if the assertion applies only to the parsings etc. An author of a
freeware Windows Bible program (I won't name it, it is not one I am involved
with) was told by OLB that they were infringing on their rights by using the
Strong's numbers and the Thayers Lexicon. Amazing.

It is difficult to understand the motives of those involved in asserting
these asinine copyright claims over PD Christian literature.