[sword-devel] Copyrights and derivative works

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 18 Jan 2003 14:28:05 -0700 (MST)

On Sat, 18 Jan 2003, Daniel Russell wrote:

> Personally i find it hard to believe that most courts would sustain 
> these arguments considering the fact that a person can play a rift from 
> a song, in fact the exact tune from a song, and change the words, and 
> call it a parody.

Contrarily, I charge that you're trying to bend the spirit of the law to
your own will with no legal or logical basis.  Playing a riff from a song
is fair use quotation.  Parody is a specific exemption from the law.
> >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.
> Under these blanket definitions a person can not even write a book 
> *about* another author's work(s), for example a critique, because that 
> would be a "derivative" work, "necessarily requiring" the original work.

Did you even read what I wrote?  If you make B out of A, then B is a 
derivative of A.  It is specifically the words FROM A that are being used, 
and beyond what could be considered fair use quotation.
> You need to make up your mind here. Your basis for why something is 
> considered a "derivative" work was that the work could be reasonably 
> reconstructed from the derivative.

No, that was never my basis.  That was a supporting reason as to why it 
makes sense.  Go read my previous post.

The basis of being a derivative is derivation.  It's a pertty simple 

> In practice it would be extremely difficult for a painting to present 
> the story. It would take a series of paintings, or a comic book, to 
> represent the story.

There is no need to represent the whole story in order to be a derivative 
work.  One may represent a single scene, as I described.  The drawing on 
the cover of a novel is (if it bears any relation to the content of the 
writing at all) a derivative work of the novel.  All those drawings and 
paintings various people have done of Tolkien's works, whether for the 
purpose of illustrating later editions or otherwise, are derivative works.  
They requrire permission from the original's copyright holder in order to 
be distributed.  It's essentially because you're enjoying fruits of 
another's creativity rather than making something up yourself (or enjoying 
the fruits of the creativity of someone long dead).
> >>  Works that cite an
> >>original work are not derivative, but that's not what concordances do.  
> >>Concordances quote the entire work.
> >>
> Does this one do that? Unless it shows snippets of the text for each 
> word instance, it does not quote the entire work.

The quotes don't need to be whole verses.  You can't copyright individual
words, but a concordance contains every word (or at least far beyond fair
use coverage).  Whether they explicitly state the context or not (by
quoting the whole verse, e.g.) context is easily reconstructed.

You're also damaging Zondervan's assets in the form of its NIV
concordance.  (This is a tangential issue, but it certainly gives
Zondervan motive to shut down any effort to produce a similar work.)

> By the way, i was once in Bible Quiz, where we memorized large chunks of
> the Bible word for word. When i was in it, we used the King James, but
> right after my last year, the program switched to NIV. There are
> children from that program who can quote entire books of the Bible in
> NIV word for word. These people could conceivably be considered in
> violation of the law, according to your reasoning, since their very
> minds and mouths can at will create an audio "derivative" work of the
> NIV..... in fact, not even a derivative but a *straight copy* of it. All
> it takes is someone to *listen* to these children quote, or of course,
> the children may sometimes be broadcast on Christian TV networks quoting
> the scripture (word for word).

If they recite the text beyond the (overly reasonable) limits stated in 
the NIV in a context of a public performance or while being recorded, that 
would be copyright violation if IBS/Zondervan cared to take up the issue.