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

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Mon, 29 Jan 2001 20:27:46 +1000

Jerry Hastings wrote:
> ...
> 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.

That's a good point: what are the requirements of a content license? 
The main issues from my perspective are:
- that anyone should be able to use, copy, redistribute, and modify the
work in any form without the requirement for specific permission from
the author or payment of any licensing fee
- that the portions of the work attributable to each contributor be
clearly identifiable
- that all derivative works be protected under the same conditions as
the original work

> 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?

That depends.  If i think the institution involved is not Christian and
their offence was serious enough, i would certainly consider asking my
legal counsel to write them a letter.  It would not likely go as far as
court, simply because i would not likely feel it would be worth it, but
yes, i would contact them and tell them they are being bad.

> ...
> 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?

Because licenses are a concise way of stating the conditions under which
an author desires his or her work to be used, and because there are
several good ones available already, it is little effort to apply them
to new works.

> ...
> 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."

That's a good point.  Do you think that using that sort of approach
means that the 'license' is more likely to be honoured?  I personally do
not - i think people are less likely to violate a license than a
'statement of intent', simply because the modern Western world
understands the importance of legal terminology and for the most part is
rather litigation-averse.  ;-)

"He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30