[sword-devel] Detecting Problem Characters

Michael Hart just_mike_y at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 23 13:01:51 MST 2011

On 9/23/2011 1:30 PM, Greg Hellings wrote:
> For reasons not entirely mine to go into, nor germane to your
> questions, CrossWire policy is generally to ignore zefania files.
> Among such, as you point out, is that many of their files have been
> found to violate copyright laws.
> --Greg
Hopefully, I did not state ANY file at the Sourceforge site I linked to 
IS copyrighted, only that the one I'm working on is possibly still under 
copyright in the USA, but probably isn't (see my TMI explanation 
below.)  This specific document is right on the line at every step of 
the way, but I believe it fell through the gap in 1998 and did become 
public domain, but I don't have a way to prove that at this time. As far 
as I know noone has claimed the Riverside NT is still copyrighted, but 
my method for works 1923-1964 was to positively answer beyond any doubt 
the status of the work before publishing them.  The Riverside NT is 
'almost, but not quite' ready.

I do want to know if someone thinks or knows there are clear violations 
at the Sourceforge site I linked to.



As to the Sourceforge Zefania site itself:

The Sourceforge project I linked to which produces zefania works appears 
to deal only with public domain works (the Riverside NT aside, and I've 
seen other lists that name Riverside NT 'public domain', so I suspect 
there is evidence I don't have yet.) IF any site that has inadvertently 
produced illegal copies of copyrighted works were banned from 
consideration, there wouldn't be anything left.  Amazon is guilty, 
Internet Archive is guilty, CCEL is guilty, Google is guilty, etc.  (I'm 
not sure about Gutenberg, but I wouldn't be surprised if even they have 
gone afoul of copyright law and had to retract works.)   I prefer to 
evaluate each work on its own, and whatever pipeline it comes by is a 
publishing concern.

The group working on the Sourceforge Zefania texts is not the group that 
produced Opensong, which did or does have clear ties to ignoring the 
law.  It would be the same as saying Crosswire and the Sword 
Repositories should now be shunned because Lyricue uses Crosswire texts, 
but that project also provides clearly copyrighted texts from some other 
source.  The Zefania project started as a Linux Bible reader for Sharp 
Zaurus, clearly intending to work in a similar way to Crosswire on only 
public domain texts.  Similar to the palm bible apps from the 90s,  the 
Zaurus was resource and memory limited, so they had to create their own 
scheme to make the Bible fit.    Whatever other quasi-legal projects 
that piggyback onto it, don't blame the original.   I see nothing wrong 
with sourcing from the Zefania site itself.

For what it's worth (about the Riverside NT possibly being copyright):

The Riverside new testament is also available on the Internet Archive at


However, the text output from this digitization is in much much poorer 
condition than that at the Zefania site.

It is my belief that this work is already public domain, but there is a 
small window of time that I haven't excluded.

The copyright law changed in 1963 to make copyrights extend 75 years 
from publication or 50 years after the life of the author, which 
remained in effect until September 1998 when congress extended to Life 
+70 years of the author.  This means There is a very likely chance that 
the Riverside NT is already public domain if 1) It was published before 
September 1923, and 2) William G Ballentine died before September 1948.  
I believe it is customary (even in 1923) to start printing the next year 
somewhere around September.   That is you can get books published in 
2012 right now.  If Ballentine died after September 1948,  then his 
death determines the PD date, but in all likelihood it will be within 
the next decade.  Add to this that the Copyright renewal in (1948?) was 
recorded to the estate of Ballentine by his wife. The question mark is 
to remind me of the fact that it was recorded posthumously after 1948, 
but there is or was some law that allowed this (widow's law).  This 
implies the copyright was continuous, so even tho recorded late, the 
renewal was effective 1948, but again I'm not a lawyer on this point.

So the latest this work MIGHT be under copyright is around 2018.

Also consider that without evidence to the contrary, Publications are 
assumed Jan 1 of the year they are published (earliest possible date).  
Therefore is is reasonable to assume this work is already in copyright 
and legally can be distributed with the caveat that as soon as someone 
produces evidence of a fall publication OR a late death certificate, a 
cessation would be necessary.

Also, note that I am stripping any copyrightable condition that may 
exist on the Zefania work to achieve the original work, then building it 
up (specifically I am not working from the OSIS document available there 
to create a module on this work)  That is, I'm going back to bare text 
(even removing all the return characters and white space (spaces greater 
than one, tab characters, etc.) and rebuilding the structure based on 
verse numbers.)  because of this, I highly doubt that there could be any 
legal action from the sourcing of this document being contaminated, but 
in this day of lawyers in the US, I'm fairly confident that my process 
would withstand a scrutiny even if there were legal action.  I think 
I've covered all my bases well enough.  Even today, additions to a 
public domain work are copyrightable, but the original work remains in 
the public domain.

Also note that under 1923 copyright law, fair-use rights in general 
remained with the citizen, not the holder. The original 1923 copyright 
viewable at the Internet Archive link above has no restrictions listed, 
so the only restrictions are those listed under the constitution and 
1909 law itself (sale of the work for profit.)  Storing, modifying, and 
(arguably, but not my intent until it is clearly legal to do so) 
distribution for non-profit reasons are not restricted.  Therefore I see 
nothing unethical, illegal, or immoral with my current work in modifying 
the document for my own use, and preparations for a release when the 
work IS public domain without a doubt.

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