[sword-devel] Dead Sea Scrolls copyright discussion

Peter von Kaehne refdoc at gmx.net
Mon Sep 10 07:41:10 MST 2018

On Mon, 2018-09-10 at 09:54 -0400, Tom Sullivan wrote:
> 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 
> something?

Yes, the original text can be made a module, any later edition not,
unless it without addition or editing simply copies an older public
domain edition. 

With this in mind we will e.g. publish critical editions of the NT from
Westcott Hort, but not the newest Aland. 

> 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.

While pictures are copyrightable, I presume using the pictures to
transcribe the bare text would make a PD document. Our WLC is something
of that kind. Someone somewhere put fingers on keyboard and typed the
bare text in. 

> Thirdly, [..] 
> 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?

Yes, this is a risk and yes this risk makes us double cautious. In
general Bible publishers are kind folk and do not like to sue, but of
course they could. FWIW the last time I had to pull a text due to
erroneous publication as public domain I was uploading within days a
new module with footnotes, crossreferences and the like, significantly
improved upon the prior one which was text only. The Bible society in
question had coupled their request to pull the old module with an offer
of an improved text. But we still do not want to risk this. 


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