[sword-devel] copyright question

Jerry Hastings sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 11 Nov 2000 19:13:46 -0700

At 10:21 PM 11/11/2000 +0000, Paul Dean wrote:
>Clearly, this has my head doing loops about copyright issues.  I'd be
>distributing a program which would enable the user to download an
>entire copyrighted bible.
>My thoughts: Is this any different to what netscape does when you
>browse gospelcom.net?  It puts into its cache all of it, chapter by
>chapter.  My program would be doing essentially the same.

There are a number of issues that factor into the problem. A page on the 
web is intended to be browsed by browser programs. Often, but not always, 
there are terms of use posted. The terms may include the restriction that 
the page be viewed as it was intended to be viewed. If you strip everything 
from the site other than the target text it could be a violation of the 
terms of use. Think of the terms of use as a license. If your use falls 
into the posted terms of use then you have license for the copies made 
while performing that use.

Yahoo provides stock market data. After browsing to a page and selecting 
the stock you can download a spread sheet file of the data. I have seen 
programs that get stock market data from yahoo by using form spoofing 
methods. The data is parsed and saved for use in those programs' data 
files. I believe that is a violation of the yahoo terms of service and also 
a copyright violation, not because the data is processed and save, but 
because the site is not "browsed." On the other hand, there are a lot of 
programs doing it, so there must be a lot of people that disagree with me 
on this. :-)

If there is no posted terms of use then there is probably an implied 
license to browse. Anything beyond that may be a copyright violation. So, 
if your program just browses a site, you have no problem. If you do 
something other than browse a site you may have a problem.

>Is this any different to what netscape does when you
>browse gospelcom.net?  It puts into its cache all of it, chapter by

Netscape probably only caches those chapters that you browse. If you don't 
browse a chapter, Netscape doesn't cache it. This gets into some 
interesting areas. There are a number of programs that not only cache for 
temporary use, but save entire sites for later off-line use. Because that 
makes it difficult for the copyright holder to control those copies, the 
issue of saving sites will probably end up in court. Again, there are a lot 
of programs and browsers that do it anyway.

By the letter of the law, I have violated your copyright when I quoted your 
message in this one. You may not have even known you had a copyright on 
that message, but you do. I may have some defence in implied uses and fair 
use, but a defence is not the same as a right (I have no desire to defend 
that statement).  I say that to point out that copyright laws, which are in 
a state of flux because of new technologies have not caught up with the 
needs of the internet. The lines are now very fuzzy. Also, because of 
misunderstandings of things like the license to "time shift" broadcasted 
programs, people see license to copy where there is none. So, if you copy 
because a lot of people do likewise, the copying may still be a violation, 
even if not "wrong."