[sword-devel] sword-devel Digest, Vol 64, Issue 25

Steven DeRose sderose at speakeasy.net
Wed Jul 29 07:41:47 MST 2009

Having worked with other publishers, I imagine the reason the some  
don't want to deal with open source products is that it's easy to get  
the data out. That is, if someone wanted a copy to do anything at all  
with, they could buy one copy, and then modify whatever app is  
involved to export the whole thing into any format they wanted.

In reality, this is not just an open-source problem. Any application  
that lets you view the data at all, lets you copy it. By definition.  
Someone who wants to copy a copy-protected work can use a screen- 
scraper, or spend a few hours to cut-and-paste the text of each book  
or chapter individually (whatever the company's web interface lets you  
see at once), or write a script to gather the whole text up  
automatically. Once one person has done that, they can post the whole  
thing and the horse is out of the barn. It's in principle impossible  
to prevent someone from copying something you let them see.

A publisher could decide to only show the text as bitmapped images of  
it; but you can still OCR that unless they make it unusably ugly.  
There have been business plans to control copying by requiring use of  
a special browser, but of course that won't fly, and if such a browser  
did become popular someone somewhere would quickly hack it anyway.

Nevertheless the attempt to enforce copyright via technology is  
unlikely to go away, and so it's unlikely you'd be able to negotiate  
rights to popular recent translations.

The good news, as others have pointed out, is that as more high- 
quality free translations appear the pressure on for-profit  
translations increases (for this purpose, either "free as in beer" or  
"free as in freedom" helps). It's hard to maintain market dominance in  
the long term when you charge but the alternatives are free; but in  
the short-term inertia counts for a lot.


PS: I've been adding direct links from my list of about 420 English  
translations at http://www.derose.net/steve/Bible, to Google Books and  
other sources; you can get at a lot of older translations that way,  
including many not available in any Bible tools I know of). Although  
unaccountably Google Books doesn't seem willing to give you the whole  
text at once, even when you can get it all in chunks of several  
chapters each.

On Jul 28, 2009, at 3:00 PM, sword-devel-request at crosswire.org wrote:

> The problem with charging for a module for Sword is that, generally,
> when people think about open-source they think "free" and they don't
> want to pay for anything. One example that proves my point is that,
> whenever someone tries to sell Sword copies, people come here and ask
> if it is legal to sell copies of Sword.
> J?natas

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