[sword-devel] DSS (Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls based upon DJD translations)

Andrew Thule thulester at gmail.com
Tue Nov 13 11:40:53 MST 2012

With the possible exception of calling people trolls, I agree, this is how
we are to conduct ourselves in public. Even Christian folks, sometimes
disagree. Reasoning things out, using civility, logic, evidence, tolerance
for difference of opinion, are all hallmarks of responsible people working
through difficult things.  This is how differences are settled in a
principled, civil way. With respect to apologizing, I think its premature
for offering or expecting one (unless someone's feelings have been injured).

Recall, this was all initiated by a simple request for assistance QAing a
module.  An unjustified claimed was made that somehow this breached
Copyright law; even though Copyright law is restricted in certain cases,
this being one, and copyright law allows for derivative work, this being
one.  Even though I made it clear early on, I had no interest in arguing
this (I do know Copyright Law!), I've nevertheless defend this module on 2
grounds (and been called a troll for doing so):

1. This module falls within the provisions of section 107 of the Copyright
Act, and therefore constitutes 'fair use'
2. Independent, and in addition to this, the use of Copyrighted work in the
case of derivative works is permitted.

There was some haggling over this, but eventually those engaged in the
debate have begrudgingly recognized that "Copyrights" are not monolithic,
defacto, exclusive rights, but ones with reasonable limits and 'fair use'
(In fact 1/3 of the act is about placing limits on these exclusive
rights).  Furthermore, we've managed to sort out that there is a difference
between protections on cultural works (often produced for commercial
advantage) and scholarly work, produced to expand knowledge.  Our civil
discussion has in fact made progress, as some of the harder incorrect
positions have since softened.  I don't expect an apology from those who
have 'softened' their position.

It's been hinted that because I stand alone in my defence, against so many,
clearly I must be wrong. This, of course, is the fallacy argumentum ad
populum.  The number of people who believe something to be true, has no
bearing on the truth of the belief.  In human history, there was a time
when only a single person believed the world was round rather than flat.
There was also a time when only a single person believed the messiah
(though King) would be killed and rise on the third day.  Sometimes it
takes a single dissenting voice, to correct popular misconceptions however
bleak the odds.

Dogmatically the argument has now shifted from saying material CANNOT be
copied under any circumstance, to saying it CAN be but not in THESE
circumstances.  That is an entirely different argument, and one that
quietly recognizes the merit to my defence. Let's look at those claims
then.  I was presented 3 links.

The first link is Wikipedia:

The Wikipedia link is not a summary of case law.  It is no kind of
authoritative source or summary interpretation of precident (save perhaps
for the army of Wikipedia volunteers who engineer Wikipedia articles).
However two other cases were presented being 'Princeton University Press v.
Michigan Doc' and ' Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko's Graphics Corporation'.
Very good.  Case law makes us look at the issues I've been raising in


Before these two cases were presented,  I made the point that derivative
use cases of Copyright work (outlined in ) says basically (in section § 107
. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use) that in considering 'adapted
works' as derived works, courts use some litmus tests.  I kind of get the
feeling no one accusing me of law-breaking has bothered to read this
section. In both of the cases above, the defendants were engaged in
'Commercial Activity' reproducing exact copies of Copyrighted material for
COMMERCIAL advantage.

Had anyone bothered to read section § 107 they'd see that both defendants
were engaged in commercial activity, both were reproducing exact copies of
copyright work, both were selling the results for commercial advantage,
clearly failing the first litmus test.  Neither of those cases apply here.

That said, I really didn't need to point out the litmus test since the
Copyright act itself says (in section § 101 . Definitions ) "A work
consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other
modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship,
is a “derivative work” which is clearly the case here.  This module
contains annotations, elaborations, and other modifications and is clearly
not the same as Oxford University Press' 39 volume published works
"Discoveries in the Judean Desert" so automatically qualifies as derivative
work by definition.  However, people would rather argue than read law and
case law.

Finally the Georgia State University Opinion was offered as evidence of
wrong doing.  To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what this was presented
as it strengthens my case more than weakens it.

Of the DSS translations in the Discoveries in the Judean Desert (DJD)
series, biblical DSS translations constitute far less than 10% of the
entire material found in the 39 volumes.  These translations clearly
contain annotations, elaborations, and other modifications qualifying by
definition as derivative work.  The case is considered a win for Georgia
State and a loss for the publishers and are the same issues we debate
here.  You don't need to read too far to see that the 'Georgia State
University' case was DROPPED!

The publishers were unable to prove to the court’s satisfaction that fair
use did NOT apply in large portions brought forward in their case, and the
court was ultimately unsympathetic.  That link you produced itself says
so.  Citing this case kind of proves my point!

I don't know what this thread continues on.  I speculate perhaps some of
you work for the publishing industry.  At the end of the day case-law and
the law itself provides provisions that restrict exclusive rights in
Copyright cases, limitations I'm clearly well within legally in this case.
I'm a bit surprised that anyone (in this list) would want to restrict
(re)transmission of Dead Sea Scrolls biblical material, our oldest
fragments of biblical text in most cases.  But then again, perhaps that's
the whole point.  Perhaps this isn't about preserving someone's exclusive
right (a right that does not in fact exist) to an academic translation of
ancient text, but about restricting (re)transmission of biblical texts.

In His service.


On Monday, November 12, 2012, Peter von Kaehne wrote:

> This is a good summary of how we conduct ourselves in general and how we
> want to conduct ourselves.
> Thanks Nic.
> Peter
> On 11/11/12 23:13, niccarter wrote:
>> Disclaimer: I am not an expert in US law to any degree. I just want to
>> pick up on one thing Greg mentioned:
>>  Those works ARE subject to Copyright
>>> unless their authors or publishers have explicitly released them from
>>> Copyright.
>> The way to make sure that everything is above board and that we are
>> beyond reproach and honouring Christ is to go the extra mile and ask the
>> authors/publishers for explicit permission to distribute (either
>> personally, as Andrew appears to desire, or corporately, as I gather
>> CrossWire would be interested in) their works.
>> There are two purposes:
>> 1) If the publishers are intending for anyone and everyone to freely copy
>> their works with attribution, perhaps along the lines of CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
>> (defined at http://creativecommons.org/**licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/<http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/>), then they will appreciate the goodwill and the relationship would be
>> beneficial in glorifying God. AND they will freely and quickly grant
>> access. :)
>> 2) If the publishers are more restrictive, according to what others are
>> stating copyright law entitles, we can pray that they are happy for their
>> works to be distributed in a non-profit way with their
>> blessings/permission.  :)
>> Looking at both sides of the fence, I believe it won't hurt to ask. Who
>> is "right" is irrelevant in this outlined proposal.
>> For His Glory, ybic
>>         nic...  :)
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