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

Jerry Hastings sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sun, 28 Jan 2001 13:21:26 -0700

I think there is room for both releasing as PD and licensing in some "open" 
way. I wish more Bible versions were being released as PD. But, I see 
reasons why even a Bible version could benefit from licensing. If you 
produce something like your own commentary, and don't want others editing 
your expressions and releasing the edited version without changes, a 
license can help you prevent others from putting words in your mouth. A lot 
depends on what is the purpose of releasing a work and what you want to 
protect it from. One of the key things I would require in a license, if I 
used one, would be a requirement that all changes be documented, and if 
possible, at least a footnote in any text at the point where it is changed.

There are deeper issues. Personally, I don't like to have rules that men of 
good conscience will violate. If you copyright a Bible version, people that 
know what that means and what the law is will still violate the copyright 
believing they are honoring God. In any case, what will you do when people 
violate your copyright or license? Will you sue them in a court of law? Or 
just contact them and let them know that they are being bad?

I have been busy this last week in a private email exchange between a 
person that publishes a commercial Bible CD, that claims his "copyright" on 
a public domain work has been infringed, and two programmers of free 
software, and another person that produced the original PD files that the 
two programmers are using. This incident will probably end with both sides 
thinking the other is wrong, but no one being sued. However, often after 
this kind of thing, there will be finger pointing and parties on both sides 
will use those on the other side as object lessons in future 
communications. This is bad for the Church.

If a person has the Holy Spirit let him do what he is lead to do, in spite 
of what I think he should. If a person does not have the Holy Spirit, why 
should I waste my time treating the symptoms of his darkness, instead of 
using that time to help those seeking light?

As you know, there is nothing magical about licenses such as GPL or 
OpenContent. Every work we put out could have a unique license. What GPL or 
OpenContent provide is a standard, and, hopefully, something that is well 
written and designed. But, CrossWire or another in this line of work, could 
produce another standard or standards, that would better fit the needs of 
this work.

Therefor: with all that said, if I could have it my way, this is what I 
would do (mileage may vary depending on your own opinions). I would produce 
a statement that would indicate my hopes for how a work would be treated 
and used. Take all the things you would put in a license and write them as 
statements of desire. Instead of "you must" put "we hope you will." Instead 
of "you must not" put "we hope you won't." Then I would include in the 
statement a release to public domain. There could be a standard version of 
this statement. Perhaps a CrossWire Release to Public Domain Statement 
(CRPLS). Of course, people can just delete the statement and do whatever 
they want with the work, but they can answer to God and I won't feel a need 
to spend time fighting for the "rights."

Jerry Hastings

At 08:27 PM 1/27/2001 +1000, Paul Gear wrote:
>Jerry, are you out there?  I'd be interested in your thoughts on the
>copyright + open license vs. public domain issue.  My current thoughts
>are that public domain would be more desirable in terms of open
>philosophy, but that it would leave the texts open to becoming
>copyrighted again through people doing work on the texts and slapping
>their own copyright on them.  That is something i definitely want to
>avoid, so at the moment, i lean more towards copyrighting and using the
>OPL or a similar license.