[sword-devel] e-Sword collaboration & other copyright matters (including Jonathan's original post about the copyright website)

Jonathan Hughes sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 26 Jan 2001 21:10:15 -0800


    I would like to first of all thank you for taking the time, to respond,
and in such depth. That really means a lot to me because that is how I will
see and understand flaws in my plans and strategy!

> BJW7TOAEM@aol.com wrote:
> > ...
> > I set up the web site so that we could start contacting copyright
holders of
> > the modules for Sword that are locked, this way we could unlock them for
> > of the public to use.
> > ...
> > Comments? Questions? Thanks for your time!
> Let me clarify this: are you wanting to get the modules released by the
> copyright holder for free, unencrypted distribution?

    You are exactly correct! I am not sure about the technological side of
the modules, but yes my strategy is to have the copyright holders release
the moducles for free. Now I am not nieve or stupid and I hope that those
will never be ascribed to me (I know you didn't say either!), I understand
how the world works and how business works, but I also know how God works,
and so that is why I have this as my goal. If we meet with opposition from
the publishers, then maybe we will need to modify the strategy to see if we
can liscense the modules to be distrupted for a small fee, but I will never
give up on trying to get all texts to be distrupted for free.

> I've been doing a lot of thinking about this issue, and you can
> criticise me for my lack of faith later, but (assuming i am
> understanding the idea rightly) i don't think this will happen.
> _Ever_.  It would be great if it did, but i don't think it's going to.

    I think it will happen. :)

> Now if my understanding above is not right, then what you are talking
> about is a way to issue unlock codes so that people can use the locked
> texts.  Now before we can expect to get publishers to allow us to use
> their texts, we need to be able to provide them with assurances that
> their texts are protected using a well-proven mechanism.
> I started thinking about how we might achieve such a thing in the Sword
> project, and i knew that other people must have been thinking about
> these things, so i went looking at the Open eBook site
> <http://www.openebook.org>, because i knew that would be a main hurdle
> that those guys would be interested in overcoming.
> This led me to a company called ContentGuard
> <http://www.contentguard.com>, and thence to the site for XrML,
> eXtensible Rights Markup Language, an XML specification for DRM (Digital
> Rights Management), which means describing and enforcing the rights of
> publishers, distributors, and consumers of digital content.  Check it
> out at <http://www.xrml.org>.
> On the XrML site, i came across what i consider a truly scary document:
> <http://www.xrml.org/PDFs/Pendulum97Jul29.pdf>.  This is an academic
> white paper written by a couple of guys (one of them a computer
> scientist, and the other a patent attorney specialising in intellectual
> property) in Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center back in 1997.  In this
> article the authors represent publishing as a pendulum that can swing
> between the rights of publishers and the rights of consumers.

    I will check out the links, but like I said before I don't really want
to be involved in the technical side of how the modules will be distrupted,
I think it would sufice how we do it now with unlock keys, you are right
people can just decrypt the modules and spread the text around, but they can
do that with Online Bible, and pretty much any other Bible packages, so this
should not stop us. But it should be considered.

> Fundamentally, what they are saying is that back in the good old days of
> print media, there was a reasonable balance between the needs and rights
> of publishers and the needs and rights of consumers.  Publishers had
> copyright to protect other people from ripping off their works for
> commercial gain, but consumers had a wide range of rights that fall
> under 'fair use', including copying portions of a work for personal or
> academic purposes, and access to technologies (e.g. photocopying) that
> allowed them to do this copying without overly concerning the
> publishers.
> They then contend that the digital revolution has swung the pendulum too
> far towards the rights of consumers, away from the publishers (due to
> the fact that perfect copies can be made of digital content), and that
> because of this, traditional publishers are reluctant to get into the
> digital publishing market.  They claim what is needed is a standard for
> digital publishing that will enable publishers to enter the market with
> confidence that they are not going to be victimised by the consumer.
> The actual details of this digital standard are largely irrelevant, but
> in a nutshell, it involves creating 'trusted systems' - certified
> software that can be trusted to handle digital content in accordance
> with the rules given for its use by the publisher.
> What this boils down to in practical terms is that the software would be
> able to, for example, deny people the right to copy more than a certain
> number of pages or Kb of a work (without paying for a license), store
> and print it in a manner that makes it hard to copy in electronic and
> printed form (encrypted, with digital and printable watermarks), limit
> us to viewing the first chapter of a downloaded book until we've paid
> for more, etc.
> I believe this paper presents a view of digital publishing that, first,
> reflects the broad trends of the majority of commercial publishers
> (including those who publish Christian content), and second, cuts at the
> very core of what CrossWire is trying to do (which is make more content
> more available).  (You can find more documents reflecting this viewpoint
> at <http://www.xrml.org/news.htm>.)

    This is very disturbing! I have never liked the idea of Christian
publishers, authors, etc, keeping their works just for themselves, there are
so many different works that would help Christians, and I wish people could
get to them, but all of this politics just doesn't sit well with me.

> Personally, i don't want to be part of a world where people are so
> close-fisted with their content that i have to pay them to even make a
> copy for reference purposes (like i might take a copy of a single page
> in a book and stick it in my filing cabinet), or have to rent a book
> that i want to read, and lose access to it when my "lease" runs out.
> To put this in (Windoze) Bible software terms, i think Online Bible has
> it right when it comes to content, not Logos.  Online Bible are
> continually building their library of content that, admittedly, is
> unfamiliar to the commercial consumer (and probably inferior in some
> parts), but is not shackled by the license agreements of commercial
> publishing.  I think this is something we need to constantly keep in
> mind.
> Chris Little wrote:
> >
> > > some of our leverage as being a free, non-commercial and OPEN SOURCE
> > > software package would be taken away.
> >
> > I don't think being Open Source is much of a selling point to
> Definitely not.  Even if they understand it, they are not likely to want
> it.  Neither would i if i was a commercial publisher.  (See below for
> why.)

    Yea, maybe not the close minded publishers, but some of our texts are
from individual people, and it maybe something we can show to them to let
them know that we as a political philosophy are commited to a product that
will help people, without the barier of fianances, etc.

> > See Bob Pritchett from Logos' comments in the bible-linux egroups list
> > the subject.  Generally, they're afraid of someone cracking the software
> > stealing their stuff.  There's some logic to it, since someone with an
> > unlocked module could essentially do anything with that module, like
> > publish online, etc.  Amusingly, I'd say we still have much stronger
> > protection than most closed-source, even commercial products.  With
> > you definitely have to have a decrypt key for every query.  Logos, on
> > other hand, just keeps track of which books you have unlocked and stores
> > in a file.  In other words, nothing is even encrypted, so you can pretty
> > easily share your unlock cache file or crack the program itself to
> > the unlock checks.
> How are those problems not applicable to Sword?  Think about this: where
> do you get the decrypt key that you need for every query?  There are two
> obvious answers to this: store it in a file, or request it from an
> unlock server.  (There are several other, less practical answers than
> these, like requiring the user to enter it manually each time, but let's
> ignore them for the time being.)
> Take the second case: downloading the key in real time from an unlock
> server.  This immediately adds the requirement that the unlock server
> must be available at the time.  That prevents us from being able to
> provide the ability on most PDAs, as well as being a pain for those
> people who do not have full-time 'Net access (which is most of the rest
> of the world, for those of you who have American-class bandwidth).
> Secondly, if the unlock server is to provide the client with a key,
> there must be an authentication mechanism for clients.  This means that
> we would have to provide every client with an RSA key or equivalent that
> could be verified against a database on the unlock server.
> Now, since we are free software project, everyone can see the code to do
> this.  What is to stop someone writing a program to do the handshake
> with the unlock server and then store the unlock key on their local
> computer?  Then they can also write a program to decrypt the module
> locally without ever going to the unlock server.  So this makes even the
> technique of using an unlock server equivalent to storing the keys in a
> local file.
> Now let's think about the local file storage issue.  If we store the key
> unencrypted, anyone can write a program to open the module using it.  If
> we decide to encrypt the module key, what do we use as the key for
> that?  Where do we store that key?  The whole problem starts again.
> All of this is rather moot at the moment, as software for unlocking,
> etc. doesn't even exist for Sword.  Presently, anyone can go to the
> alpha test page, download the encryption keys, and write a program to
> dump out the raw text.  That would be much easier than cracking Logos or
> sharing your Logos unlock files with your friends.  (You have to restart
> the program each time you switch unlock files, and as far as i know, you
> can't combine them.)

    Like I said before I think that the mechanism that is now set up is just
fine, but of course other may have other opinions.

> Paul
> ---------
> "He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30
> http://www.bigfoot.com/~paulgear
> P.S.  Quick gripe: Jonathan, Can you turn of HTML on your email
> messages?  It makes them very hard to read.

    Sorry about the HTML on in my email it is AOL, so I will have to find
out how to turn that off. Thanks again Paul for your comments, I will be
contemplating them for a while! I am sure this issue with come up again.
Hey, I would love to here what you think of the official letter I plan on
sending to publishers, you can find it on the Copyright Website: