[sword-devel] Module Licensing

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Sun Jan 27 05:39:26 MST 2008

Try sending something like this...

Currently the following modules of those I have downloaded cannot be
accessed by anyone without an internet connection, as Crosswire is the
only distributor. There are probably quite a few others.


Is there any possibility of getting a license for these for
non-commercial or personal use, without permitting format shifting?

At our church, we have a free CD containing SWORD resources, among
other things. We give these out for free, and some people don't have
access to the internet. These resources cannot reach them without
relicensing.  This could be a greater problem in some parts of the
world than here in Australia, but the requirements as stated restrict
the use and freedom of use of the word of God, which I consider

I haven't taken part in any licensing negotiations, but it seems to me
logically that granting the user permission to use the module and
distribute it for personal use only does not really add any important
additional freedom from granting them permission to use the module if
and only if they downloaded it from Crosswire, so long as the license
is kept (and if they won't keep the one, it is unlikely that they will
keep the other).

As given, these kinds of licenses breaks one of the principles of
free software.  While I don't really care if the modules are non-free
in the Debian sense, what the current system means is that if
Crosswire disappears for whatever reason then we will still have all
the software (as the GPL requires), but we will no longer have
permission to distribute some of the modules (including the ESV, which
IMHO is one of the more important modules - it would certainly have to
be in the top three English ones for usefulness).  If the copyright
owners will really not agree to personal use then the current
situation is better than nothing, but I really can't see that
distribution for personal use adds any major concession that hurts the
copyright owners, while it significantly increase the ability to
distribute for users of the software, thus increasing the
accessibility of the gospel.

Again, I consider that the most important thing about this project is
to make the word of God available to all users, so I would prefer
module licenses that reflect the freeness of the software (rather than
free software with $20 Bibles, as is the case with some).  As
Christians, we must keep the copyright laws, and so if these are the
best licensing terms you can get we must stick with them.  However, I
still have a rooted objection to the idea of men holding a copyright
or ownership on the word of God, and using that to limit the people
who will be allowed to use God's word, or to use it so that they can
make unreasonable amounts of money from the word of God (somewhat


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