[sword-devel] For ALL On The List: Copyright Considerations, What do you think?

Jonathan Hughes sword-devel@crosswire.org
09 Jan 2003 22:46:21 +0000

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Hey Everyone,

I have been thinking through a lot of the copyright issues that we might
run into (I wonder what recent discussion this line of thinking stemmed
from? :-). I want to take a proactive approach to some of these issues
and would like to elicit some feedback from the people on our mailing

We need to educate the people that are using our software on the
copyright issues that are involved in them using each of the modules we
have. I am concerned that with many organizations starting to grant us
permission to distribute their works but with minor (or major)
restrictions some users will download a module thinking they have all
usage rights but they will use it in a way that was not granted to us.
For example we just got permission to distribute the Finnish 1992 Bible,
but in the publication permit they gave us, they state "The text is
intended for research and studying purposes. The text may be retrieved
to the personal workstation but copying and re-distributing is strickly
forbidden.. For other use than personal research, teaching and studying
a separate license by the [ELCF] is required." So we have the right to
have people download it from our website and use it on their personal
computers, however they can not put this specific module on a CD and
re-distribute it and including this modules on our free CD and having
people re-distribute does not appear to be within the rights we were
given. People that setup a website to display text might also not have
the right to use this module in that way...because it says for "personal
research, teaching and studying" and it specifically says that it may be
"retrieved to the personal workstation." It does not give the right to
being put up on a server. A good SOLUTION to this would be to add the
distributionlicense and distributionnotes fields from the .conf files to
be displayed with the other module information in ModInfo.jsp. This way
anyone that downloads the modules from the info page can see the
specific license that govern their usage (a note to Chris or Troy if you
get ambitious and set this up soon I would like it if you augmented the
copyright.conf file that is in the root directory of the /copyright/
directory on the web server to get the latest copyright information that
has not made it to individual modules .conf files. This way the
copyright information is synced between the module pages and the
copyright pages for a module.) A link to the copyright website to get
information about the specific module might be in order also (ie add:
"For more information about copyright issues with this module see the
copyright information for the KJV on the Copyright Website." to the
ModInfo.jsp page also) These two suggestions I would highly recommend
that we add as soon as possible (I can get a patch to ModInfo.jsp soon
after Troy or Chris okay this).

It might also be useful to add some kind of notification on the
ModDisp.jsp pages where it lists the modules to download because users
can just download the modules from that page without seeing any of the
specific information.

Some way to inform users that they should look into the copyright issues
with any modules they use would be a benefit to the community that we
serve. Ideas of how to do this would be appreciated. Something like a
awareness program. :)

Testing =3D=3D access to locked modules. One other area we might need to
look into is the access to locked modules for testing purposes. I don't
know what the copyright issues are with unlocking these texts for people
to test...it seems to violate copyright laws because we don't have
permission to distribute them even for testing. It might fall under what
I would call standard practice. It is tolerable to the companies (or
maybe they are not even aware of us using them for testing purposes)
that we are infringing on their copyright because it is for testing
purposes. But it used to be that the unlocked keys were available to
anyone on this list. I am glad that changed. But still do we have a
policy on who and why we give the unlock keys away. What about the
people who got the keys from before and are not "actively" testing
now...they now have a free copy of XYZ module that is locked to the rest
of the general public. I think without a good policy on how the unlocked
keys are used we could be heading for some huge copyright violation
issues. I have been reading up on some copyright violation cases where
monetary damages were sought and the figures that were given to these
people that brought suit against the copyright violators were
staggering. Check out Gigalaw.com for some of those cases.

What are some other areas and ideas people have that would help in
preventing copyright problems in the future...like I said I want to get
things setup and work on areas before they become problems...so if
anyone has been thinking about something that we should change or add in
the way we handle copyright issues please bring it up.

Let the discussion begin... :)

In Christ,
Jonathan Hughes
Copyright Coordinator

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