[sword-devel] encryption and integrity checking.

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Wed Mar 11 06:04:26 MST 2009

On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 11:29 PM, DM Smith <dmsmith at crosswire.org> wrote:
> On Mar 11, 2009, at 5:04 AM, Peter von Kaehne wrote:
>> One of the problems which has come up again and again when discussing
>> with publishers has been the worry that texts which are released to
>> CrossWire become an easy target for abuse - either commercial abuse with
>> texts of some commercial importance or, more worrying to me at least -
>> manipulation of texts by cults and other entities.
>> What possible solutions could we offer to provide text encryption and
>> integrity checking in a plausible way which would not violate GPL and
>> goes beyond our current practice of simply incorporating a key into the
>> conf files?
>> This is a serious and important question. I am aware of several texts
>> which we did not get or where people hesitate because this is not
>> possible right now.
> I've thought about this quite a bit as it has bothered me quite a bit. It
> especially bothers me that some so called Christians feel free to steal and
> won't honor ownership. I've heard all kinds of rationalizations.

This is not a rationalisation of breaking such copyright, since I
believe we should obey copyright laws no matter how dubious some of
them are.  However, it is worth considering who "owns" the text.  I
have serious issues with anyone claiming to "own" the word of God.  In
my mind, there are two main cases:
1. The translation is an accurate translation of God's word: It is
expressing God's word clearly, and so shouldn't have any ownership
involved in conveying the word of God.
2. The translation is not an accurate translation of God's word: It
may have a lot of originality in it, but it should never be
distributed claiming to be the word of God.

It is probably not unreasonable for those working on a translation to
receive some reward for their labour, in the vein of "the labourer is
worthy of their hire", but to claim ownership is IMHO showing a lack
of respect for the work and word of God.  Major publishing groups like
Zondervan have well and truly passed the line that I would call
reasonable for the labourer being worthy of their hire.

If publishers don't want to work with us then I am quite happy with
that.  I don't have a desperate urge to go out trying to compromise my
principles or my software implementation just to get more texts into
Sword.  It's just not worth it.  As has been previously stated, I
suspect that it is impossible to completely prevent copying by a
determined user and meet all other requirements anyway, and I would
strongly object to any scheme that penalises legitimate users in a
futile attempt to stop illegitimate users.


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