Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

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Jonathan Robie
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Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 26th, 2018, 5:45 pm

How can we get a freely-licensed critical edition for the Greek New Testament that is accepted for scholarly work? Without that, we can't have open scholarship for the Greek New Testament.

Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text
The Bible is at the heart of digital biblical humanities, and open scholarship depends on an open text that can be used in scholarly publications and translations. For the Greek New Testament, the critical editions that can be used in scholarly publications and most translations are not open. The texts that are open are generally not considered acceptable for scholarly publications or translation.

Something’s got to give. Open scholarship requires a text that is trustworthy, trusted, and openly licensed ...
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 26th, 2018, 8:57 pm

What's wrong with the SBL Greek text?

ETA: From your webpage:
The SBLGNT was originally designed to enable open scholarship but has significant licensing issues of its own - the license does not even address noncommercial use or creation of derivative works, the official route for permissions and licensing involves sending physical mail and waiting for a response in some unspecified time frame, and commercial use requires sales reporting that has prevented Logos competitors from using it.
From the SBLGNT license:
You may freely distribute the SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT), but you are not permitted to sell it on its own, either in print or electronic format.
As I understand it (IAMNLAL), you're free to distribute it as long as you meet certain requirements for commercial uses. If it's just hobbyist stuff, I don't see the problem. If you're trying to make a buck on the other hand, the compliance doesn't seem that onerous (except for Greek-English diglots!).
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by daveburt » July 27th, 2018, 12:25 am

Is the text of OpenGNT basically the NA28 and therefore subject to the same licensing restrictions?

I've seen an argument that if the NA28 or UBS etc. claim to be as close as possible to the original, then they ought to be considered public domain by virtue of their age. St. Paul's copyrights lapsed a fair while ago! I understand actual law is not as straightforward as that.
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 27th, 2018, 8:53 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 26th, 2018, 8:57 pm
What's wrong with the SBL Greek text?

ETA: From your webpage:
The SBLGNT was originally designed to enable open scholarship but has significant licensing issues of its own - the license does not even address noncommercial use or creation of derivative works, the official route for permissions and licensing involves sending physical mail and waiting for a response in some unspecified time frame, and commercial use requires sales reporting that has prevented Logos competitors from using it.
From the SBLGNT license:
You may freely distribute the SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT), but you are not permitted to sell it on its own, either in print or electronic format.
As I understand it (IAMNLAL), you're free to distribute it as long as you meet certain requirements for commercial uses. If it's just hobbyist stuff, I don't see the problem. If you're trying to make a buck on the other hand, the compliance doesn't seem that onerous (except for Greek-English diglots!).
First off, there's a third category - open scholarship. It is neither "hobbyist stuff" nor commercial. Consider climate research - all of the data is available, published openly, so people can verify each other's work and reanalyze in different ways, use one dataset together with others to create new analyses, etc. In more and more fields, the most valuable data is open and the most serious research is done with open data. And that just makes sense - scholarship is a collaborative community process. In the long run, this third category is the one that matters most.

In our field, morphological analysis, syntax trees, discourse analyses, etc. fall into this category, along with other linguistic analyses. In our field, a great deal of data either gets bought by some commercial vendor or lost on someone's hard disk or is available only on paper in a publication that goes out of print quickly and becomes extremely expensive. Rijksbaron clearly has datasets that would be tremendously helpful, for instance. A lot of data is locked up in commercial systems, and these systems have GUIs that are very convenient for common use, but not designed to allow you to reimagine the data in various ways. If you want to do more with their data you have to sign an agreement with the company to get at the datasets per se, and those agreements often lock up whatever data you create, perpetuating the cycle.

When someone gives a presentation at SBL, I would like to be able to use their data to see if I find the same result, play with their analysis to see how sensitive it is to particular assumptions, see if I can extrapolate to learn something new. There were some Hebrew presentations last year that published Jupyter notebooks along with their datasets so I can do precisely that.

Licensing restrictions are the reason that PROIEL uses Tischendorff and I use a combination of SBLGNT and Nestle1904. I explain the problems with the SBL license briefly in the text you quoted, let me unpack it a little.

If I am going to do the kind of work needed to create any significant resource for the Greek New Testament, I want to know that I can make my work freely available. I also want to know that other people can use my work as the basis for their own work and make their work freely available. Many of the most useful works are clearly derivative works.
In copyright law, a derivative work is an expressive creation that includes major copyright-protected elements of an original, previously created first work (the underlying work). The derivative work becomes a second, separate work independent in form from the first. The transformation, modification or adaptation of the work must be substantial and bear its author's personality sufficiently to be original and thus protected by copyright. Translations, cinematic adaptations and musical arrangements are common types of derivative works.
So the fundamental problem is that a translation, audio recording, syntax tree, discourse analysis, etc. is a derivative work, and if I base my text on the SBLGNT I have to negotiate the rights I have over my own work. That includes the rights I can give to anyone who uses my work. Ideally, I would like commercial vendors to be able to use these works too, and companies like Accordance and Bibleworks object to the SBLGNT license and will not use the SBLGNT.

If we want to have open scholarship in our field, we need to free up these derivative works. That's really at the heart of the problem.
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 27th, 2018, 3:22 pm

daveburt wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 12:25 am
Is the text of OpenGNT basically the NA28 and therefore subject to the same licensing restrictions?
OpenGNT is based on TANTT, which was produced from SBLGNT + diffs. I am not a lawyer, I suspect they might be regarded as derivative works of the SBLGNT, but the diffs are enough to reconstruct the original wording in the Nestle-Aland. Without consulting with a lawyer, I really wouldn't want to take a stand on whether that would pass scrutiny.

I would much prefer to see an open non-commercial license for the Nestle-Aland or SBLGNT to enable this kind of work. A separate license could be used for commercial use.

Even better: I would like to see an open critical text and a model for supporting its development, perhaps based on donations. The value of having an open text that we can all trust and use is far greater than the commercial value as measured by sales of a critical edition. Openness is a public good, and should be supported as such.

We need a text that can be freely translated and freely analyzed, with no limitations on who data creators can share with.
daveburt wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 12:25 am
I've seen an argument that if the NA28 or UBS etc. claim to be as close as possible to the original, then they ought to be considered public domain by virtue of their age. St. Paul's copyrights lapsed a fair while ago! I understand actual law is not as straightforward as that.
There's a cute argument along these lines: If we had the original, it would be out of copyright. The only thing critical editions have added to the original is mistakes. But that's not how the law works, critical editions can be copyrighted. And of course, punctuation, accentuation, paragraphs, headings, etc. are all additions to the original texts.

But it's complicated, and the laws in one place may differ from the laws in another place. I think this footnote is accurate:
The copyright status of edited ancient or medieval texts varies according to national legislation. For instance, under German law, a critical text of an edition (created by an author deceased centuries ago) might not be copyrighted, while the introduction, commentary, and apparatus are. Otherwise there is legal uncertainty, and uniform international guidelines or legal assistance are missing. See a recent article by Wout Dillen and Vincent Neyt, “Digital Scholarly Editing within the Boundaries of Copyright Restrictions,” in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 31/4 (2016): 785–96, doi:10.1093/llc/fqw011, on the possibilities and limitations when working with modern manuscripts.
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 27th, 2018, 4:22 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 8:53 am
First off, there's a third category - open scholarship. It is neither "hobbyist stuff" nor commercial.
***
If we want to have open scholarship in our field, we need to free up these derivative works. That's really at the heart of the problem.
Thanks for your considered and detailed response, too lengthy to quote in full. From my perspective as someone in academia, I fear that the third category basically does not exist, and cannot exist as far as academia is concerned. The mentality in academia is: if it's not peer-reviewed, it's not scholarship. Tenure and promotion committees reward peer-reviewed publications and contributions to open scholarship simply don't count because there is no peer review. In fact, peer review and open scholarship are probably mutually incompatible at a fundamental level. Peer review is ultimately a gate-keeping exercise and the point of "open" is, well, no gate-keeping of any kind.

If tenure and promotion committees won't recognize contributions to open scholarship, (academic) scholars might still be incentivized to contribute to open scholarship if they could get grant funding for it. But grant funding review panels are stocked with academics and they still have the "scholarship = peer review" mentality. And the commercial restrictions of the peer-reviewed products would not onerous because the grant money can cover the licensing. (And I'm speaking as someone who has applied for grants to contribute to open scholarship.) Plus, there's hardly any grant money out there in humanities.

As for derivative works, the mentality of academics is that everything they do with publications (generally secured by access rights from their library, so they're not paying for it) in their own notes is "fair use" until they publish it, and their peer-reviewed publishers will secure any necessary rights to the publications when they publish. However, since one of the standard criteria for passing peer-review is "originality," most, indeed almost all, of what scholars publish in peer-review outlets are going to be sufficiently transformative so as not to be derivative works.
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 27th, 2018, 5:29 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 4:22 pm
Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 8:53 am
First off, there's a third category - open scholarship. It is neither "hobbyist stuff" nor commercial.
***
If we want to have open scholarship in our field, we need to free up these derivative works. That's really at the heart of the problem.
Thanks for your considered and detailed response, too lengthy to quote in full. From my perspective as someone in academia, I fear that the third category basically does not exist, and cannot exist as far as academia is concerned. The mentality in academia is: if it's not peer-reviewed, it's not scholarship. Tenure and promotion committees reward peer-reviewed publications and contributions to open scholarship simply don't count because there is no peer review. In fact, peer review and open scholarship are probably mutually incompatible at a fundamental level. Peer review is ultimately a gate-keeping exercise and the point of "open" is, well, no gate-keeping of any kind.
Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Open data needs gatekeeping too. This third category is precisely what I think needs to be created, and it requires peer-reviewed, high-quality, openly-licensed data. There's an obvious business-model question: if peer-review is essential and the resulting data is freely-licensed, how is it paid for?

There are branches of academia that work this way. Climate science got into trouble because scientists couldn't analyze each other's data and verify results, comparing their analysis in detail to analysis done by other scientists, so they opened it up. Now multiple groups can analyze the same data in various ways, publishing the results in various peer-reviewed journals. The result is more peer-review, not less.

In the Classics, using Perseus certainly does not disqualify you from publishing your research in academic journals. Work done on the OpenText analysis and on Dag Haug's trees have been published in traditional peer-reviewed journals and work done at the ETCBC center in Amsterdam is largely based on open data, but it is also peer-reviewed.

If we really depend on the data, it has to be reviewed. "Scholarship = peer review" is important, and perfectly compatible with freely licensing the results. Consider the open source software world. The reason we can rely on Linux systems for most Web servers is precisely that this software is thoroughly tested, code is reviewed, etc. People have to jump through hoops to become Apache committers, and even then every check-in is tested and reviewed. Many enterprise systems rely deeply on open source software, that's how companies like Red Hat make their money. The open-source enterprise messaging software I worked on was mission-critical for banks and stock-brokers.

I want open with gatekeeping. Peer review is essential, you need to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. Expertise is essential. Open licensing simply means that you make the results of high-quality work available so others can build on it. Consider the syntax trees produced by Randall Tan or Dag Haug or the discourse analysis of Stephen Levinsohn - these are high-quality work done by serious professionals, they are not toys created by hobbyists.

In our world, if the Nestle-Aland editions were openly licensed, the various treebanks and discourse analyses and morphologies and context-sensitive glosses could all be based on the same text, making it much easier for us to replicate each other's results. And these days, there are freely licensed transcriptions of the many of the important New Testament manuscripts and realistic 2-dimensional images of the original artifacts may or may not be copyrightable, that's not certain. Open GIS data is being created for the ancient world by various groups too.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 4:22 pm
If tenure and promotion committees won't recognize contributions to open scholarship, (academic) scholars might still be incentivized to contribute to open scholarship if they could get grant funding for it. But grant funding review panels are stocked with academics and they still have the "scholarship = peer review" mentality. And the commercial restrictions of the peer-reviewed products would not onerous because the grant money can cover the licensing. (And I'm speaking as someone who has applied for grants to contribute to open scholarships.) Plus, there's hardly any grant money out there in humanities.
We really do need to find funding for something like a high-quality critical edition of the Greek New Testament, and any serious long-term work needs to be funded somehow. We need better ways to fund this work. It's not like people who create our most important data are getting rich under the current system. We might be able to create a funding model based on the value of open data. Or perhaps agencies that get their money from donors could convince donors that open data is valuable.

If we really depend on the data, it has to be reviewed. "Scholarship = peer review" is important, and perfectly compatible with freely licensing the results.

And freely licensing these works is a public good. Shouldn't a granting agency want the results of high-quality research to be as useful as possible? Shouldn't donors to a Bible Society want them to create editions of the Greek New Testament that can be used freely?

So I think one trick is finding business models to fund this kind of work, including grants and donors. Another trick is building structures for peer review and tenure that recognize the value of open science and open data.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 4:22 pm
As for derivative works, the mentality of academics is that everything they do with publications (generally secured by access rights from their library, so they're not paying for it) in their own notes is "fair use" until they publish it, and their peer-reviewed publishers will secure any necessary rights to the publications when they publish. However, since one of the standard criteria for passing peer-review is "originality," most, indeed almost all, of what scholars publish in peer-review outlets are going to be sufficiently transformative so as not to be derivative works.
Originality is actually a requirement for a derivative work too, according to copyright law. If you don't have originality, you don't have a derivative work. A translation or a syntactic analysis or a discourse analysis can be copyrighted precisely because they are original works.
For copyright protection to attach to a later, allegedly derivative work, it must display some originality of its own. It cannot be a rote, uncreative variation on the earlier, underlying work. The latter work must contain sufficient new expression, over and above that embodied in the earlier work for the latter work to satisfy copyright law’s requirement of originality.
But you're right, if you work at a university you have access, you don't feel the pain of getting to a publication. Getting to data is another story. If I want to reanalyze the results of someone's thesis, I need the data and enough information to reconstruct the methods. Jupyter Notebooks are widely used for this purpose in open science.
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 27th, 2018, 6:40 pm

The best way forward as I see it is support from granting agencies. Many of your examples, Dag Haug, Perseus, climate science, etc., all had government grant support. European grant agencies are beginning to insist that the results they fund be open. Unfortunately, this approach requires political support for funding humanities in an increasingly post-Christian, secular world.

The current critical text is funded by UBS, which relies on donations and a business model that wants to recoup their costs through product sales. Getting this text to be truly open will require them to adopt different funding source.

I don't see much buy-in from academia. The whole system is structured to professionalize the discipline and freeze out the amateurs. (Heck they even freeze out PhDs who can't get tenure-track jobs!). The barriers to entry are high and expensive, and I'm afraid purposely so. The peer-review standards are such that if you don't have access to a university library (the main subsidy for humanities scholars), it is impossible to write an article that will pass peer-review. You talk about "data," but mastery of the secondary literature is the primary hurdle for peer-reviewed publication. This philosophy of course is fundamentally incompatible with open scholarship.

Another major obstacle to open scholarship is that copyright terms have become so long that the public domain has stopped growing for most of the past 50 years. With the old 28-year term, lots of scholarly editions entered the public domain when they were still current. Not so anymore.

I guess this leaves the church, and we're back to where we are with UBS.
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 27th, 2018, 8:00 pm

On the substance of the proposal, what about an edited transcription of an ancient text like Vaticanus (B)? (I think Porter has suggested a similar solution). It would be open, as in long out-of-copyright. And it is a trusted text of the 4th century.

Sure, historical critics might not be as enthused with it (though it can be supplied with an apparatus to the NA, THE, RP, TR, etc.), but for linguistic purposes it is arguably superior to an edited critical text, since it reflects linguistic choices by actual members of the speech community.

Vaticanus isn’t extant everywhere, but we do have Siniaticus, which is. So there’s that.

ETA: I should say this is essentially the same state of affairs with the Hebrew Bible text, being a close transcription of Codex Leningradensis (though there are plans for a proper eclectic text).

I should also say that since Vaticanus is an important primary source in its own right, it will have appeal to scholars beyond what an eclectic text can provide.
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Re: Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 28th, 2018, 4:19 am

Here is an older thread about copyright problems: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =34&t=3528
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