I deeply affirm the mission of the German Bible Society (DBG), to promote biblical research and worldwide Bible translation to make the Scriptures accessible to everyone. I share this mission, and I am attempting to fulfill it by means of the Open Scriptures project. By semantically interlinking manuscripts, translations, morphosyntactic parsings, annotations, and other related data... Biblical study will be greatly assisted for speakers of minority languages who haven't benefited from thousands of scholars' research in the English and German speaking worlds. For example, if a Creole translation is semantically linked back to Greek and Hebrew, it can benefit from the data attached to German and English translations since they would be all connected together
I also understand that Biblical research and translation work costs a lot of money, and I understand (and affirm) the German Bible Society's policy to charge for the work it produces. I wholeheartedly affirm the DBG's mission, and I want to support your essential work. One of my core philosophies regarding the Open Scriptures project is that "the laborer deserves his wages" (Luke 10:7 ESV). Content owners like the DBG have a right to receive compensation for their labors, and I want to affirm this right in the Open Scriptures project.
Therefore, my hope is that non-free resources such as NA27/UBS4 may be incorporated into Open Scriptures via either donations, ads, and/or subscriptions. The proceeds from these revenue sources can be used to compensate the DBG for your scholarship. I want Open Scriptures to be an avenue by which the DBG may receive financial support to further its critical work, while at the same time make it possible for your data to enter “The next Web of open, linked data” for Scripture. This quotation comes form a talk by Tim Berners-Lee (who is credited with inventing the Internet). Please refer to his 15 min talk available here: http://openscriptures.org/2009/03/the-next-web-of-open-linked-data-for-scripture/
All of this is to say that I do not intend that Open Scriptures should incorporate the German Bible Society's content without due compensation.
Best of regards,
Obviously, I'm not very satisfied with their response. :-(
Dear Mr. Ruter,
Thank you for your message that my colleague Beate Schubert forwarded to me. We acknowledge that you removed the MorphGNT form openscriptures.org. Both, the Greek Bible text and the critical apparatus of this edition are copyright protected. Thus publication and distribution is prohibited without permission of the copyright holder, the German Bible Society.
As Beate Schubert already mentioned the German Bible Society does not license the Greek New Testament for online use as a matter of principle. This does not only apply to your but to any website. However the Greek Bible text is available for free in our Bible portal www.bibelwissenschaft.de. Thus, everybody who wants to read the Greek Bible text has the opportunity to do it there.
Dr. Bertram Salzmann - New Media Director
German Bible Society - www.scholarly-bibles.com
Balinger Str. 31 - D-70567 Stuttgart/Germany
Open Scriptures can be an intermediary between application developers and content owners. The idea is for Open Scriptures to be a platform upon which developers can build applications of scripture while at the same time give content owners a distribution channel and revenue stream.
The court in the southern city of Shenzhen on Wednesday sentenced 11
people to jail terms of up to six-and-a-half years for making
high-quality counterfeit software that was sold in 36 countries,
Microsoft said in a statement.
The first clue that genuine Microsoft products were not being offered,
was that it was "high quality software".
Well, to the extent that you can recreate the UBS text from MorphGNT,
it calls in to question whether MorphGNT is legally clean or a
I have permission to modify and redistribute CCAT's text but that only
works to the extent that CCAT had the right to grant me that in the
As I've mentioned elsewhere, though, back in the mid 90s, CCAT had
both a morphological analysis and the UBS3 text on their site and they
took down only the latter at the request of, I presume, the GBS.
As I've also mentioned, though, I've long planned to better separate
out the analysis from the particular text, mostly as a way of reusing
the analysis for other texts but with the added advantage of more
cleanly separating out the UBS text.
But it still raises questions. Even if I had a text-independent
analysis with each unique form keyed of, say, an integer id, I'd want
to provide a mapping from a text to that analysis, e.g. "the 37th word
in John's Gospel (NA/UBS text) is unique form #285 in MorphGNT". But
this mapping could still be used by people to reconstruct the text.
Imagine I have a mapping file that has 138,019 lines that look like
04 0037 285
where 04 is the book number, 0037 is the word offset and 285 is the
unique form key.
Is this a derivative work of UBS, subject to GBS's copyright?
People here probably won't like it, but the solution will likely be a
version of MorphGNT that would require you to have the UBS GNT already
in order to do mapping from that text to my analysis. In fact, I will
likely provide a Python script that regenerates the current MorphGNT
format as long as you have (1) a (hopefully legal) list of the 138,019
words in the UBS GNT in order and (2) the forthcoming version of
One advantage is this will speed up my intended work to make the
analysis mappable from multiple texts.
$40-50 a year? My UBS4 cost less than that and it's lasted more than 10 years! That said, 10 years is about the time between "upgrades" of UBS, then I'd suggest around $3-4 per year for using their product is a more realistic figure.
Or, to calculate it another way, one might ask the lifespan of the average bible software package and the license fee that GBS collect per sale. I have no idea what this might amount to, of course, but I'd be comfortable suggesting that GBS would be delighted to get $40-50 per year per user.
In view of the above, I'd suggest a once-off license purchase per user - exactly as per the current print and software copies of the UBS text - and I think a price somewhat below that of the print copy would be realistic given the obvious reduction in cost of production and supply.
Whether this would be a realistic commercial venture for GBS is the question, however, and I'm not sure how one might go about assessing the likely interest in a down-loadable edition of UBS.
I am not a copyright attorney myself, but I have had lengthy phone conversations with a lawyer who is credited with being the best in the USA. Here’s the deal, at least according to USA copyright law. Ancient texts such as those we are dealing with in the OT (Hebrew/Aramaic) and NT (Greek) are in the public domain and are not protected by copyright. In fact (and this is controversial), even the critical texts as reconstructed by textual critics cannot be protected by enforceable copyrights. The textual critical apparatus has a somewhat better claim to copyright, but to the extent that such an apparatus is a catalog of information, my sources tell me that any claim to an enforceable copyright is weakened. “Sweat equity” in the recreation of ancient texts is not sufficient to establish copyright. It takes sweat equity to create a phone book, but you cannot copyright a phone book. This is not something that the United Bible Society or the German Bible Society wants to hear or agrees to, this is what our lawyer consultants have told us.
However, translations of ancient texts can be proetected by copyright.
I have heard all the arguments of those opposed to copyrighting Bible translations. I am not impressed with them. For me it boils down to three principles–protection of the integrity of the text, using the revenue generated by sales to fund new projects and distribution, and the laborer being worthy of their hire. I agree that this creates a tension between the profit motive and the ministry motive. This, BTW, is a tension that all believers share whether they are working for a “profit” or a “non-profit” organization that is engaged in the selling of Christan books and Bible or related services. As a Christian, I embrace and encourage this tension. Without the ministry focus, I have sold my soul; if the bottom line is not in focus, the ministry screeches to a halt.
For example, the differentiation between the following Hebrew letters,
especially if the scribe has "sloppy" handwriting: רדך
Faded ink, and worn away parts of letters can further hinder the
decipherment of the manuscript.
> It's rather long, but this post speaks to that very issue:
That blog addresses slightly different issues.
* _Sweat of the brow_ alone does not make a work copyrightable;
* Format shifting does not make a work copyrightable;
a) What I was addressing was the transcription of semi-decipherable,
or completely undecipherable texts. (Which is why I used Hebrew and
Greek letters as examples.);
b) That blog addresses US Law. Copyright law in other countries does
allow for a copyright to be claimed, purely on the basis of _sweat of
the brow_. Under WIPO, if something is copyrightable in one country,
the copyright is enforcible by all of the WIPO signatories;
c) I'll just point out that the copyright to the UBS4 and the
copyright to the NA-27 are held by two different organizations.
Granted, the organizations are based in different countries;
If the deciphered text is not copyrightable, then the transcriptions
are public domain, even if there are questions about the accuracy of
> This doesn't seem to be true. As of the most recent corrected edition (2001), both editions are copy-righted by the German Bible Society.
You are correct. I was looking at older copies.
However, it still looks that they are covered under different copyrights.
> whether there's any relevant information on the German Wikipedia page for copyright?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_copyright_law contains most of
I don't appear to have kept my bookmark, but a couple of months ago, I
found a site in English, which contained a translation of most of the
German Copyright law.
You will be glad to know that the whole thrust of our Virtual Manuscript Room project -- both for ourselves and our partners in Munster -- is to enable exactly the same kinds of reuse (mashups, linked data, etc) you envisage. We will insist at all times on proper sourcing and crediting, and for our materials to appear in an appropriate context: but else, our interests are to have the materials as widely used as possible.
> To sum up it seems like our options going forward are:
> 1) Figure out a way to get the MorphGNT licensed to us
This is not quite right as stated. I am in the process of modifying my
MorphGNT database to prevent extraction of the UBS text. Once I have
done this, the MorphGNT will be available under a CC license without
hinderance. This will also make it easier to map to other texts.
So really the options are:
1) Figure out a way to get the UBS text licensed
2) Use an existing, freely-distributable text such as WH or Tischendorf
3) Create a new, freely-distributable critical text
Right, which is another reason I'm making MorphGNT independent of any
I got an email back from the German Bible Society. It is grave. She says that as "a matter of principle we don't license the NA27 or the UBS4 Bible text for open source projects" and they also request that we remove the MorphGNT citing their copyright. (Tommy, I don't know but maybe you should suspend downloads of your E-Book based on the MorphGNT.)
Obviously the MorphGNT is an absolutely vital resource!
What are we going to do? We have to find some solution to this issue, to generate royalties for them while at the same time promote open access to Scripture. I don't believe that their closed-source licensing policy can survive given the current technological environment. We need to figure out how present a shift in policy as a positive change.
What do you think?
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Schubert, Beate
Date: Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 3:57 AM
Subject: Open Scriptures
To: Weston Ruter <westo...@gmail.com>
Dear Weston,I understand your Open Scriptures project as being not-for-profit and open source.The German Bible Society is a not-for-profit religious foundation. Its mission, in collaboration with other members of the United Bible Societies, is to promote biblical research and worldwide Bible translation work in order to make the Bible available to everybody in their own language.Biblical research and translation work costs a lot of money. Therefore, according to the standing rules of our foundation, we have to earn money with our texts to enable further Bible translations worldwide.Please understand that as a matter of principle we don't license the NA27 or the UBS4 Bible text for open source projects.Regarding the "MorphGNT with UBS4" on the Open Scriptures website: This is again a copyright infringement as the basis of the text is the UBS4. We ask you to remove this text from your website, too, as we are the copyright holder of the UBS4.With kind regards,BeateBeate Schubert, M.A.Lizenzabteilung/License DepartmentDeutsche Bibelgesellschaft/German Bible Society
I am very thankful for SBLGNT, but its license  does have some
caveats. I think it works well for amateur and research uses, but there
are some cases where additional licensing or a different text may be
necessary. I am not a lawyer, etc. :-)
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
and for the Christian Greek NT the 28th edition
The Society of Biblical Literature posted their edition at