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277999 Posts in 26524 Topics by 3790 Members
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1  Fellowship / You name it!! / Re:Copyright Ethics on: July 21, 2004, 07:32:37 PM
Actually, the World English Bible is a more modern, public domain translation in progress, though I think it's mostly finished now.  You should also check out the International Standard Version - not sure about it's copyright status, though.

You are always allowed to quote small portions, assuming you give proper credit.  No big deal.

From my discussion in another forum, it seems some people think they would lose money by publishing "free" (as in freedom) software/works.  On the other hand, others are already making money using the free and open licenses available.  So what gives?
2  Fellowship / You name it!! / Re:Copyright Ethics on: July 15, 2004, 04:52:48 PM
Gracey,

You may not have misread my original post. Wink  I'm a pastor, and questioning things I'm not certain many Christians question.  Has the Church had this dialogue, and I missed it?  Has it ever popped up in Sunday School materials?  Are preachers and publishers talking about this?  At the same time, I would like to encourage authors/pulishers/developers to consider alternatives to standard copyright - especially in light of our faith.

It is wrong to violate the law (in most cases, but refer to Acts where God's law is higher than man's), as God has granted it.  However, many are well aware that the copyright laws are not a constitutional right, but rather pure legal code designed - not to protect the copyrightholder or the public, but rather to strike a balance for the good of both.  That's why it's limited in time.

Unfortunately, WolfBrother, many in the media/publishing & software business are pushing to make the laws favor them, thus adding the weight of the Scales of Justice to their side.  Having lost that balance, we, the citizens, are slowly sloing many rights to material.  The extension of time limits on copyright is one example.

Where the public could have benefitted from the many works held in copyright by Disney (such as the Jungle Book), now they remain in copyright instead of being placed into the public domain, as should have been the case.

And no, copying illegally is copyright infringement - not theft.  Gracey makes a good point above, though.  Both are wrong.  However, one should be free to help one's neighbor.  The GPL, FDL, and CCL permit this, while at the same time assuring credit for authorship.  One still has the rights to sell the product, although one might make less money than through standard copyright.

I also believe that God will bless those who do make their works "free" in this sense.

Grace and Peace,
Don
3  Fellowship / You name it!! / Re:Copyright Ethics on: July 15, 2004, 10:42:33 AM
Honesty in all you do....Christ is looking all the time.

We've run into similar areas where we wanted to use a book (or parts of it) for a bible study. The simple solution was to contact the publisher (or copyright holder) and ask for permission, spelling out what you are doing. We've done this on more than one occasion, and we've never been turned down.

Glad to hear that.  I'll raise the question with the Christian publisher of the book we like.  It just seems kind of ironic that the secular publishing houses I'm familiar with have never included such a threatening warning.  For a Christian publishing house to warn about the $50,000 fines and prison time, seems pretty harsh.  (Not that God hasn't fairly warned us about Hell, of course.)  Even so...


Quote
Copyright laws are in place for a reason. Are the publishers christian, or are they just publishing christian products? Regardless, it takes a lot of time, money and effort to produce some of this stuff. The publishing houses and software developers (if they are companies) pay the salaries of their workers....stolen materials mean the companies earn less (sometimes even lose money) and can't pay their employees. Christian companies also give to charity, which they can't do if they aren't earning; some of them "sew" freely into God's kingdom producing pamphlets and flyers for non profit organizations.

That's a major misconception.  Copying is not theft.  Legally, these are two different crimes.  Many would have us to believe that copying is theft, but it plainly is not.  I can copy materials for good use (helping my neighbor that cannot afford it), or I can sell it for personal gain without the rights to sell it - which would be wrong.

No one can claim theft in the case of copied material - mainly because one cannot prove the sale would ever have occured to begin with.  The poor person I help cannot afford the product, thus would not have purchased it to begin with.


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If we don't follow the copyright laws because we are christian, what kind of precedent does that set for the rest of the world.

That's part of my point.  I've encountered situations where churches might be using proprietary software illegally (though I did not have proof of that, just an off-the-cuff remark someone made raised the question).  If the product (books, music, or software) is proprietary, then church members have an obligation to ensure they pass the license along with the software.

We use an operating system on our copmuters that cost @ $80.  Because it is free software (meaning it protects our freedom in using it), we can pass it along to other people without incurring the wrath of the developer(s).  Likewise, there are licenses available for publishers to use, that guarantee people's freedom to use (and redistribute) their materials.  They can still get paid for the copies they sell.  My point about the leviticus passage is that Christian publishers should think about leaving room for the poor/strangers.  (If the publisher gives permission to copy their materials, then they are acting in the spirit of this command.


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While we may not like the fact that there are rules such as this which might restrict our ability to help others, there are also a lot of wonderful "freeware" programs which can be used in place of purchased ones. Some of the companies who sell software are willing to give a discount to schools and non profit organizations, so it pays to contact them (we did this and purchased a $50 program for $16).

Understand the difference between freeware and free software.  These are two separate terms.  Freeware is free of cost.  Yet it is not free software if the source code is not included and one is not allowed to modify it.  Fre software guarantees 4 freedoms.  (1) use the software for any purpose.  (2) Study and modify the program to suit your needs.  (3)Redistribute the program to help your neighbor.  (4) Improve the program and pass it on to the comunity.

The Creative Commons Licenses apply to books, music, arts, and provide options on what privileges to extend or withhold.  I am suggesting that these licenses offer the Christian community a much better alternative than the standard copyright.  Usually, these are applied on top of the copyright notice.  Using such licenses offers us the ability to be graceful while still keeping the roof over our heads.

Thoughts on this?
4  Fellowship / You name it!! / Re:Copyright Ethics on: July 14, 2004, 11:50:39 PM
I agree with the I Cor. 6 reference wholeheartedly.  While I understand the need of Christian authors and developers to feed their families, I think an  attitude of grace should be more prominent than threats of punishment.

Some additional scriptures to throw in to the mix include:
  • Mt 10:8 points to attitude required of Christians
  • Luke 6:1-11 - points to attempts by leadership to twist the law to favor their interpretation
  • Lev. 19:10 - points to need to leave something for the poor and strangers

The Leviticus passage is striking.  I realize that we are under Grace, not the Law.  Yet  the Law reflects God's command that we love one another.  Does this apply to us today, especially in a business setting?

For example, if I produce books that help people find new jobs, and a person who bought my book ran off a copy to help their poor neighbor, that 3rd party is able to benefit in a similar manner as the poor in leviticus.

According to American law, I have full rights to prosecute, but in doing so, I am essentially oppressing the poor.  Perhaps I am stretching things a bit here.  In other words, I'm saying that Christian authors/developers ought allow the poor (& strangers?) to benefit from their works.  When they insert their copyright notices, they could specify that a certain amount of reproduction is permissable.

Alternatively, they could use the so-called copyleft, which frees the reader/user to copy without any penalty.  The copyleft sits on top of the copyright, intended to protect the author/developer.  The copyleft is covered by the GNU Public License for software, and the GNU Free Documentation License for instructional books.  These licenses include additional freedoms as well.  There are other free licenses to boot.

This is where we get into free software.  Free software may actually cost something financially.  The word free means freedom.   Our ministry will not use proprietary software at all.  Using it requires us to agree not to help our neighbor.  Because of this restriction, we find it is better to use software that allows us to help others.

I pose the question because I do not think the church has given this issue much thought.  Consider worship music.  I can create worship music and copyright it to assure credit for authorship.  Yet I can also copyleft it to enable a Christian to share the song with their church.  Books and other creative works come to mind.

I released "Penguin in the Pew" under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL), thereby assuring that Christians can copy it and pass it on.  I charge no fee, but could.

Further input?
5  Fellowship / You name it!! / Copyright Ethics on: July 14, 2004, 06:48:11 PM
I have two questions:

(1) Should Christian publishers or software developers use copyright laws to restrict the freedoms of their brethren? or to threaten their brethren with legal penalties for helping others?

(2) Should Christians use material or software that restricts them from helping their neighbors?

Two examples:
(a) A book we have used in the past in our ministry is an excellent resource for discipleship, except for the fact that the book includes a pretty ugly notice about what could happen if you copy any of the material - and then they offer no provision that allows you to do so - even for a Sunday School class.

(b) Many computer programs restricted by copyright law as well.  Our ministry has discovered the freedom to help others by using free (as in freedom - not price) software.  We not only do not have to worry about whether we have the appropriate licenses, we are able to pass onto others copies of what we have.

I am presently working on a paper addressing these questions, and would like some input, especially from other pastors.  

Elders, deacons, and other believers are welcome to comment as well.  I would also appreciate hearing from the authors and publishers on this.  I would be willing, in the near future to send the rough draft out for comment prior to releasing the final draft.

Peace,
Don
6  Entertainment / Computer Hardware and Software / Re:Freakin' computers... on: July 12, 2004, 05:13:34 AM
That's one reason I use custom shops instead of brand name systems.  I also use free software as opposed to proprietary software.  In my experience, anything proprietary locks you in.  hardware and software based on open standards, and that enable us to help others are the only way to go for our church!  Wink

God's peace be with you!
Don
7  Welcome / About You! / Thought I'd Introduce Myself on: July 10, 2004, 12:58:34 AM
I'm a bi-vocational pastor of a small house church in Charlotte, NC.  Our information technology ministry is creating quite a stir.  Perhaps I'll share more about that in another post.  I'd like to engage some other believers - especially pastors in dialogue regarding the theological implications of information technology for the church.

I'm pretty active in The Freely Project (freely.jedimoose.org), aimed at helping Christians and churches learn about free and open source software (FOSS).  Just hope to be able to contribute something worthwhile to the Kingdom of Christ.

God bless,
Don
8  Entertainment / Computer Hardware and Software / Re:Freakin' computers... on: July 10, 2004, 12:31:20 AM
Ugggh!  That ain't much fun.  Not sure I can really help, but I'll give it a whirl.  What's your BIOS saying?  And what kind of BIOS do you have?

Older BIOSes will have difficulty with larger drives.  My P-II/350 had to have an install disk for the hard drive because the BIOS didn't recognize it.  Check the mfr's website for possible download or other info.  Hope that'll help some.

Regards,
Don
9  Fellowship / What are you doing? / House Church with a Global Reach on: July 08, 2004, 07:25:56 PM
Greetings,

My name is Don Parris, and I hail from Charlotte, NC, where I'm planting a church.  We're presently just a house church, but have had a global impact for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  Aside from collecting clothes for villagers in Liberia and a vision for a strong educational minsitry in the future, we have a tremendous computer ministry that has excited many Christians in the Information Technology industry.

Two important articles appeared on IT media websites last week, which has brought nearly 2000 visitors to our site and that of The Freely Project.  Our site offers free information about IT as ministry, and I am interested in engaging fellow believers in dialogue regarding the theological implications of information technology, especially as it relates to the software that runs many of our ministries.

Based on what I've learned from believing IT pros who've responded to the articles, the Church needs to look more closely at IT as ministry.  Below are a few points that I think are relevant and important:
<>The Church is largely an end-user of information technology, but has general failed to grasp the significance of IT as a ministry in and of itself.  At one point in time, the Church was at the cutting edge of knowledge and education.  It is time to reclaim our heritage.

<>IT professionals often work in an atmosphere of folks who are atheistic, and sometimes even hostile toward believers.  These folks need encouragement, prayer, and to be affirmed in their ministries.

<>Churches often fail to find professionals experiences with a broad range of operating systems and applications, and thus miss out on the natural blessings of good stewardship, and the ability to help others.

So I guess one might say that our IT ministry is somewhat focused on IT Pros and church leaders.  Let the dialogue begin! Cheesy

God bless,
Don
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