[sword-devel] Legitimate FTP Mirrors & Module Distribution Rights Question

Greg Hellings greg.hellings at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 09:27:59 MST 2012

On Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 11:10 AM, Andrew Thule <thulester at gmail.com> wrote:
> Last time this issue came up, it was made very clear that surrounding
> the issue of FTP mirrors were sensitivities around the distribution of
> Sword modules because of licensing encumbrances.  So this purpose of
> this email is seek clarification about this given that InstallMgr
> appears to be moving in a direct that may support multiple module
> locations.

I has, since at least the time I started with SWORD in 2004, always
supported multiple install locations. The only difficulty I'm aware of
comes with automatic updating if module ABC exists in Repository 1 and
Repository 2 - currently InstallMgr has no way of knowing which one is
the source of the currently installed ABC and thus it cannot determine
from which source an update should be pulled. But it has always
supported including multiple sources.

> When Crosswire obtains license to distribute texts as Sword modules,
> is there an explicit prohibition that precludes Crosswire from
> distributing its modules in a distributed manner (because of policy
> decisions, load-balancing issues, whatever). Specifically, is
> Crosswire prohibited from mirroring itself (assuming the mirror is
> completely synchronized with the parent site).

None of the modules I am aware of specify the particular manner in
which Crosswire must or must not distribute the module. There are
some, I believe, which limit to only Sword format which we try to
avoid now as that prevents the creation of GoBible installers for the
text and so on. However, there are none that currently specify "from
only the primary www.crosswire.org server" or such.

> Assuming licensing restrictions are there to preserve the integrity of
> the text (reasonable constraint), is Crosswire looking to mirror
> itself at any point in the future for the sake of increasing the scope
> of dissemination for the tools/technology?

I would imagine Crosswire would do so if the issue ever arises that
the server becomes unreliable (such as happened for a brief time this
past Spring) or if the bandwidth requirements for modules alone became
more than the current host provides. However, there are no such plans
at the moment that have been discussed openly, thus it is safe to
assume that there are no such plans at present.

> Since Crosswire freely allows modules to be downloaded and governs the
> use of these modules afterwards through the each modules' licensing
> rights, is there something else that precludes their downstream
> redistribution so long as the original license is honoured and
> preserved?  (In other words, if the licenses is established by the
> original module creator, or the license holder for the text, is
> Crosswire able to impose additional restrictions on the use of the
> text?  Should it (not)?)

So long as the license requirements are fulfilled, there is nothing
preventing redistribution. As I recall, the initial reaction to your
announcement was not that you must take it down but that you must
filter those modules which are licensed for only Crosswire's
distribution. Any modules which are in the Public Domain or which have
licenses that do not restrict their distribution to e.g. CrossWire
only, you are free to mirror. However, you would have to manually
create such a list by inspecting each module's license individually by

> Previously, I set up a mirror of all sites with SWORD modules as a
> type of one-stop-shop site where I knew the modules were accessible to
> locations where Crosswire isn't actually (or isn't advisable).  I was
> told to shut it down, and I did - honouring the request.  Even so,
> unless there are legal reasons the texts cannot be distributed from
> mirrors, or there's been a project decision not to go down this road
> (which hasn't been publicly communicated) it would be of great benefit
> to provide additional clarify on Rights management.

The rights are clearly stated in each module within the official
CrossWire repositories. Other repositories have their own methods and
requirements and may or may not include license information. The
license is there for you to observe and follow for each official CW
module that you care to mirror. We only ask that you honor the license
itself within the laws of where you live and host your mirror/cache.
We also ask, as a project, that you honor the intent of the module
owner. If the laws where the publisher lives are different from the
laws where you plan to host the site, we would ask you honor what the
publisher requires, even if there is no legal way to enforce that
across international boundaries. We ask this because many of these
modules are licensed for CrossWire to distribute with the good grace
of the publisher/translator. None of us and few of them are lawyers,
so licensing might not be water-tight and iron clad. If we give a
good-faith attempt to follow intentions instead of the letter of what
is written then we are more likely to garner good will from future
publishers and content creators.


> (Not trying to stir any pots - I recognize the sensitivities - please be gentle)
> ~A
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