Monday, 6 July 2009

Who owns the word of God?

E-books are the next big thing - and are even coming to Sweden..... as noted by Dagens Nyheter last week (..and highlighted by HAX).

Generally that's a good thing - lots of works easily accessible online, simple to find and simple to buy (or download for free from sites like the excellent Project Gutenberg). There is one small fly in the ointment though. Conversion to e-format means a whole new copyright on existing works that are already in the public domain.... so although we, the public, own them - someone else gets to set their monopoly on them and sell it back to us. Isn't that slightly strange?

This is highlighted by today's news that the Codex Sinaiticus- an early christian bible from the 4th century, & one of the world's greatest literary treasures - is now available on-line. Great!
But - if you think you might like to translate a few stanzas for your next sermon on the mount, (or church fundraiser) - do read the small print.

"The original item itself is in the public domain in most jurisdictions and therefore not protected by copyright under applicable laws. However rights in the electronic copy and certain associated metadata are owned by the holding institutions. If you wish to make use of this electronic copy or its metadata other than for non-commercial personal or educational use, you must first obtain the written permission of the relevant institution."

It does seem a bit anachronistic you must admit... (although having created translations in multiple languages I understand that there is a lot of work behind making this available.) Full marks though for making this unique resource available for non-commercial and educational use...

Bit of a shame the church is a commercial organisation though ;-)

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