[sword-devel] copyright issues

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Tue, 29 May 2001 08:40:00 +1000

> ...
> 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.
> ...
> 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),
> release it to users on payment of the appropriate royalty?  If they wanted
> to release a module unlocked on disk with the Sword software, surely
> that would be OK too provided they only charged the royalty plus an
> appropriate fee to cover handling, copying etc. and agreed on no charge
> for the software.

Jerry has already commented on this, but i'll throw in my AU$0.02...
(Totally unlike me, eh? :-)

The discussion about whether we should change the license doesn't relate to
the module text copyright, but to our ability to use commercial texts.  The
reason for this is that publishers are likely to be reluctant to release
their texts (Jonathan's work notwithstanding) to a free software project
where anyone can take the module and its encryption keys and write do
anything they like with the module.  Other software doesn't have this
problem because it's closed.

Publishers are more likely to give publishing rights to closed source
products because it's much harder to reverse engineer it than to forward
engineer software (i.e. write and compile code).  They way to get around
this is to use a binary only display renderer which performs a final
decryption step right before displaying the text.  That is not possible with
the current license, which requires all source code to be released.

The 'why not give the publisher the encryption key' approach is not that
simple.  What do they do with that key once they have it?  Does the user
just type it into the program?  What is to stop that user from sharing the
key with all their friends?  It doesn't matter how many tricks you put in,
the bottom line is that with free software, it's easier to "steal" texts.
(It's still possible with proprietary software, just harder.)

Hope this explains where i'm coming from.  I want Sword to have the best
possible chance of being able to provide commercial content.