[sword-devel] Copyrights and derivative works

Joel Mawhorter sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 18 Jan 2003 12:50:23 -0800

On January 18, 2003 04:15, Chris Little wrote:
> A concordance is the quotation of an entire work.  It doesn't matter how
> you re-order it or in what manner you change the text, it is still
> derived.  Furthermore, the examples given are specifically of types of
> derivative works that are eligible for copyright.  Since a concordance is
> non-creative, it is not eligible for copyright on this basis.  It is
> nonetheless a derivative work.

I don't agree that a concordance is a quotation of the entire work. Some 
concordances have that. For example, my printed NIV concordance, like most, 
contains a short section of each verse for each occurance. In that case, I 
clearly would be in violation of the copyright. But I could just as easily 
produce something like this:

AND: Gen 1:1, Gen 1:2, etc.
and so on for each word.

In that case I am not quoting anything. I should have been more clear as to 
which I was refering to in my origianl question. I realize this is probably a 
fuzzy area in the law. For example, I'm sure if I created a list of word 
counts in the NIV, the IBS couldn't claim that as being covered by their 
copyright but on the other hand a digital concordance/index with word order 
and punctuation info could be seen as just a simple compression mechanism for 
the copyrighted text.

> If you make B out of A, then B is a derivative of A.  If you make a
> concordance of the NIV, it necessarily requires use of the NIV--that is
> words themselves--so it is a derivative.  If you took an ASCII text of the
> NIV, gzipped it, uuencoded it, fed the result to a printer, and bound the
> printed papers without telling anyone what it really was, it would STILL
> be a derivative work.
> > This is such a preposterous argument that any judge that has an I.Q.
> > above 70 is going to throw it out of court. Just because something
> > *could* possibly, maybe, sorta be reverse-engineered, does not mean that
> > it is practical or likely that it will be reverse-engineered. And
> > frankly, i don't think a concordance can be reverse-engineered to
> > produce a text that is more similar to its object than some other,
> > independently copyrighted translations are. For one thing, a concordance
> > does not record the order of each *instance* of a word, and generally,
> > concordances do not contain pronouns, and other mundane words, which
> > make up a large portion of the essential grammatical structure of
> > passages.
> Actual ability to reproduce the original is irrelevent, but of some
> importance is the fact that a lot of information from the source text is
> being copied, without license, into the derivative.  It is enough to glean
> a lot of details about how the NIV translates certain words without
> needing an NIV.  For example, if you know that a certain word in a certain
> verse is by some translations rendered "love" and by others "like", you
> could easily do a search on that verse to retrieve all words it contains.
> By investigating that list for the words "love", "like", and similar, you
> can probably figure out how the NIV renders that particular word.
> > In short, the examples listed in the U.S. copyright definition of
> > "derivative work" are there to show us that only works that are
> > basically the same as the original with some recasting count. Works that
> > are *related* to the original work, or that refer to it, are not
> > derivative works; unless of course you have some extremely dishonest and
> > talented lawyers in a courtroom of some senile judges.
> Being "[b]asically the same as the original" isn't necessary.  A painting
> based on a scene from a novel isn't even remotely similar to the
> expression in the novel, but it's a derivative work.  Works that cite an
> original work are not derivative, but that's not what concordances do.
> Concordances quote the entire work.

I don't understand your example. I doubt that doing a painting of a scene in a 
book is a copyright violation. Consider all of the people who make money by 
painting scenes from the Lord of the Rings.

> But, hey, don't believe me.  Call UBS; ask them if they would consider it
> a derivative work.  Hire a copyright lawyer; ask him if it would legally
> be considered a derivative work.
> --Chris
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