[sword-devel] copyright issues

Jerry Hastings sword-devel@crosswire.org
Mon, 28 May 2001 12:19:27 -0700

>I've noticed the issue of module text copyright seems to be getting mixed
>up with the software licence issue.  These two issues are separate, and
>ought not to be connected.

They become connected because of the commercial nature of many of the 
copyrighted text creates a problem for program code that is supposed to be 
open source. As Paul has pointed out, what good are security measures, that 
are meant to keep them commercial, if any one can view, and modify, the 
code to break them.

>The copyright on modules is not, as some seem to be saying 'making
>money out of God's word'.  It is simply a case of some translators
>needing payment for what is a vast amount of work.

Actually, there is both, and also copyright serves to insure the integrity 
of the text. Even GPL works are copyrighted.

>Personally I don't begrudge them their pay.

Neither do I. But how do you think the pay the translators, of translations 
like the NIV, received compares to the total revenues collected minus other 
expenses? I would guess there is a lot more being collected than 
compensating for past wages. The extra may go for producing new versions, 
or printing Bibles for poor mission fields, or other ministries. And some 
of the extra may go to the profits of businesses that are in the business 
of making profits and have decided that Bibles are a way to make a profit. 
But even if all the extra goes for ministries that extra is profits. Some 
would say that profits from the sale of Bibles is "making money out of 
God's Word." Though it is nice that they want to do good with the money 
they made on it.

>Paul pointed us to the scripture that says 'you don't muzzle
>an ox while it is grinding your corn'.

Paul also gives us an example that there is more than one way to do things. 
Wouldn't it be great if a group raised the money for translation by 
donations and, then when a translation was finished, release it for free? 
Would there be anything wrong with that? Would they need to collect 
royalties forever? Should the ox eat forever because of past grindings, or 
does he eat the corn "while" he grinds it?

>Why don't we just allow publishers such as Zondervan, who hold
>copyrights to have the encryption key for our version of their text(s), and
>release it to users on payment of the appropriate royalty?

I have in the past suggest that they be given whatever they need and let 
them supply their text at whatever price they want. But, they may want 
security that becomes a problem for open source software. This is not 
completely clear at this time. I don't know if anyone knows what they would 
want or if the Sword Project can supply it.