[sword-devel] Dead Sea Scrolls copyright discussion

Tom Sullivan info at beforgiven.info
Mon Sep 10 06:54:46 MST 2018

There is obviously much background of which I am unaware, but I do wish 
to ask some questions for future reference.

First, take Matthew Henry's or Calvin's commentaries. They are way out 
of copyright to say the least. Now some publishers may add OCR text, 
comments, footnotes, etc. These are copyrightable. Am I correct in 
thinking that the original text itself could be safely made into a 
module? Surely I am, for these modules are out there. Or am I missing 

Secondly, there are those who publish images of old works and 
manuscripts. They claim copyright to the images in some cases. At the 
same time, if one does not publish the image, but only the bare original 
text, which is not copyrightable, that should be OK for a module. Am I 
correct? I should note that I have seen many cases of republished old 
works that have a copyright label, but it seems to me that they 
copyright can only apply to the modern additions.

Thirdly, there are times when one may be correct, but if a supposed 
copyright holder has money and power, they might sue, even if they know 
they are wrong. They are just being bullies. And here in the US, 
frivilous legal action can result in the plaintiff being forced to pay 
the defendant's legal costs and more. But not everybody is willing to 
risk that, especially in an international forum. Is that a concern for 
the Sword Community? In other words, even if a module maker has a legal 
right, it may not be worth the risk in the view of the Sword community. 
Am I correct in my impression that this is a factor?

Any other clarifying info would help. Thanks.

Tom Sullivan
info at BeForgiven.INFO
FAX: 815-301-2835
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On 09/10/2018 09:35 AM, Peter Von Kaehne wrote:
> This matter has been discussed ad nauseam on our mailing list several 
> years ago. Nothing has changed since.
> All written works including translations are copyrighted until the 
> copyright expires.
> We need a permission by the copyright owner or the copyrioght owner 
> licenses the text freely.
> If we do not have a permission, nor is there a free license available, 
> we will not publish the module.
> Nothing complicated there. There are edge cases (publication in Ethiopia 
> until recently or Iran until now being among them), this one is not one. 
> The translations are safely within all limits of copyright expiry for 
> the foreseeable future.  So, if you want the module published, you need 
> to go and do the legwork. Speak with publishers and find agreement. Ask 
> them to write a letter to Troy or me that they agree with a module being 
> made of their text. Until then please cease debating the matter here and 
> please cease offering "test modules" on our list.
> *Gesendet:* Montag, 10. September 2018 um 14:15 Uhr
> *Von:* "Andrew T." <thulester at gmail.com>
> *An:* "SWORD Developers' Collaboration Forum" <sword-devel at crosswire.org>
> *Betreff:* Re: [sword-devel] Dead Sea Scrolls copyright discussion
>   I welcome honest discussion about it, I thirst for honest discussion 
> about it, more than I thirst for censorship at least.  I have looked 
> into the copyright status of the DSS.  What you say is partially 
> correct.  Each separate manuscript’s translations (as found in 
> Discoveries in Judean Desert (DJD) or other sources) is held separately 
> by DJD (or the other sources) according to the copyright expressed in 
> each of the publication volumes.  This copyright has been upheld by the 
> Supreme Court of Israel.
> If you want details, here's a listing on a scroll by scroll basis:
> https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/scrolls_deadsea/inventory/cave01.htm
> For example, the Genesis scroll and the Isaiah scroll:
> *1Q1 (1QGen) /1QGenesis/* ^*ß*
> D. Barthélemy, /Discoveries in the Judaean Desert I/ (DJD I) (Oxford 
> 1955), 49-50, pl. VIII.
> *1QIs^/a/ /1QIsaiah^a /*^*ß*
> M. Burrows (ed.) with the assistance of J. C. Trever and W. H. Brownlee, 
> /The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark's Monastery/, vol. I, pls. I-LIV.
> Now there are other translations of these scrolls, the above two are the 
> most common and most widely used. However, the textual content of the 
> scrolls themselves in Hebrew or paleo-Hebrew, being rote fact, is not 
> copyrightable.
> https://www.newmediarights.org/business_models/artist/are_facts_copyrighted
> Facts such as the “Boston Celtics lost to the Toronto Raptors with a 
> score of 118-105” cannot be copyrighted, in Europe, N.America, or 
> Russia.  Chess games, and their movements cannot be copyrighted (there 
> are cases of copyright disputes over the publishing of chess games that 
> have established this).  The writing on the scrolls is factual, not the 
> product of modern scholarship.  So the text itself can be published, by 
> anyone, for any reason.  This is the publishing of fact.
> If there is to be discussion about copyright and the DSS the case of 
> publishing original language copies, There should be no concern.  There 
> are publicly available copies of both manuscript images (can't use the 
> images themselves though, need to transcribe from the images) and there 
> are textual copies.
>  From Peter's perspective, the issues surrounding the publication of the 
> DSS in translation, because it involves copyright needs to sorted out in 
> a way acceptable to this community.  I agree.  I would suggest taking 
> exactly the same approach as  Martin G. Abegg Jr., Peter Flint, Eugene 
> Ulrich in their book 'The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible 
> Translated for the First Time into English".  This book is a derivative 
> work, and Abegg, Flint and Ulrich credit the translators and copyright 
> holder's explicitly.
> Therefore for this community's concern to be addressed, what's needed is 
> for Peter to understand on what basis Abegg, Flint, and Ulrich re-used 
> the copyrighted translations of others; what the constraints of 
> publishing derivative works are (possibly according to different 
> jurisdictions); and forge a way ahead, or not according to best 
> judgement and community discussion.
> As for me, so long as there is transparency in these discussions, 
> respect, due consideration and no bullying, of course Ill live within 
> the standards of the community.
> On Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 9:06 AM Andrew T. <thulester at gmail.com 
> <mailto:thulester at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Please, be patient and civil in this discussion, appreciating that
>     copyright and biblical texts are both important and that controversy
>     abounds when discussing both.  Everyone's perspective is welcomed here:
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