Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation wo

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 18th, 2016, 11:27 am

Tim Evans wrote:Does this mean you think there are no discoveries between 1904 and now that are relevant for todays bible translation work? (By relevant, I mean relevant in that they might affect how we produce the english text?)

If there have been discoveries that do affect the greek in a way that we would alter how we produce the english text, then wouldn't it be good to have an unencumbered greek version that can be freely used today, without limitations, for all forms of publishing and study?
A couple of caveats: this is not my expertise, and if we get very far into textual criticism and it starts to spark controversy, I'll have to freeze the thread. But let's give it a shot.

There are differences between modern critical editions that affect translation, not just between Nestle 1904 and the modern critical editions. On the whole, I think these differences among modern critical editions are probably much more significant than the differences between the Nestle 1904 and the NA 27. I'd really need a list of the differences between the Nestle 1904 and NA 27 to be able to say to what extent they affect translations.

You refer to "discoveries" that affect the Greek. How many of the manuscripts that are significant for establishing the original text were not known to Nestle in 1904? I don't know the answer to that question, I suspect there are people here who do. My impression is that the biggest differences are due to the way various critical editions weigh the texts that were already available to Nestle in 1904, and that NA 28 is broadly similar to Nestle 1904.

One of the strengths of the SBLGNT is that its critical apparatus is geared toward pointing out text critical differences that affect an English translation, focusing on differences that are:
Likely to be represented in an English translation. The KJV, of course, uses a more Byzantine Greek source. The NIV and NA do not. Several other NT translations (ESV, NLT, NET, etc.) actually have their own underlying Greek text with some degree of difference from the NA27, most of the divergences in those would also be accounted for with readings given in the SBLGNT. This range of information gives the person preaching/teaching/exegeting the passage familiarity with options their pupils or parishioners may have represented in their translations.

Given the "spectrum" of the editions, the variant info might quickly point out some more interesting variants. If the SBLGNT agrees with Westcott and Hort, Tregelles, and NIV/NA but disagrees with Robinson-Pierpont, it is likely a pretty standard difference with the Byzantine text. But if the SBLGNT's chosen reading is only present in Robinson-Pierpont or Tregelles then it might be more interesting and worth a deeper look into the specialist-oriented materials such as the UBS or NA apparatuses, technical commentaries such as ICC or Word Biblical Commentary, the Editio Critica Maior, Tischendorf, Comfort & Barrett, and the like.
So one way to produce a translation would be to use the Nestle 1904, referring to the SBLGNT apparatus for "interesting" variants that might affect translation choices. On the other hand, I doubt that either the German Bible Society or the SBL would tell you that you can't use their text for a freely licensed English translation.

I doubt that crowdsourcing a critical text using a Wiki would work out as well. For one thing, there are strongly divergent opinions on how to choose the best reading, and widely different levels of expertise.
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Tim Evans
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation wo

Post by Tim Evans » January 19th, 2016, 5:17 am

All of these are good points, but you may be convincing me that these may be even more reason for it.

As far as I can tell, I suspect—based on some things I have seen from bible societies in mailing lists— that even a simple list of the differences between the 1904 and now, would be deemed a breech of copyright (they apparently don't like anything online that would allow you to reconstruct their latest edition).

Given the fact there would likely be heated debates on some point, be an argument for it, it would allow people to find a public place the differences, see the ones that are unimportant, important but agreed upon, and important but hotly disputed. Assuming people can politely and constructively debate these things in an open way, wouldn't this be invaluable for us all?
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daveburt
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation wo

Post by daveburt » July 28th, 2018, 8:09 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
January 12th, 2016, 9:26 am
The lack of a freely licensed, high-quality English translation drives me nuts, I could really use one for parallel aligned syntax trees, and other people could use them to produce other high-quality resources for people using original languages. If anyone knows of a good one, please do let me know.
Lexham English Bible has a fairly liberal license, allowing diglots, for instance, and it is based on the SBLGNT and explicitly designed to map transparently in an interlinear context.
LEB wrote:Q. What's the spirit of the LEB license?

A. Attribute the LEB when you quote or use it, don't make money selling it on its own without getting permission, and if you do sell something that quotes a large portion (1,000 verses or more), or give the LEB away in support of a commercial product, we want to know how many copies were distributed each year.
LEB wrote:The Greek text on which the LEB New Testament is based is that of The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (SBLGNT)...
LEB wrote:The LEB closely follows the original while remaining readable in contemporary English. The style of the translation is relatively literal, which stems from the desire to have the English translation correspond transparently to the original language text. The translators attempt—within these constraints—to produce a clear and readable English translation instead of a woodenly literal one.
I'd be interested to hear if it meets your criteria for "high-quality" and "freely licensed", Jonathan.
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Jacob Rhoden
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

Post by Jacob Rhoden » July 28th, 2018, 10:08 am

LEB has basically the same quirky problematic license as the SBLGNT which is assessed earlier in this thread. Including the restriction that you have to report your sales data to Logos.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 29th, 2018, 7:18 am

Jacob Rhoden wrote:
July 28th, 2018, 10:08 am
LEB has basically the same quirky problematic license as the SBLGNT which is assessed earlier in this thread. Including the restriction that you have to report your sales data to Logos.
Yes.

http://copenhagen-alliance.org/what-is-free.html
A resource is freely licensed if the license permits free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others. A resource in the public domain is free by definition. If you create a work but do not license it, it is copyrighted by default, and nobody else can use it without your permission. The best way to make a resource free is to create a clear license that identifies you as the copyright holder.

Standard licenses are strongly preferred because the terms are well-understood by a large community and it is easy to get information on them.
http://copenhagen-alliance.org/why-free.html
Freely licensed resources can be used without contacting and negotiating with the copyright holder. That way, creators can focus on doing their work, using and building on the resources according to the terms of use spelled out in standard licenses.
Even when copyright holders are willing to share their work, negotiating licenses and working with lawyers can consume significant time and effort. With freely licensed resources, creators can focus on doing their work, using standard licenses that spell out the terms so that a resource can be used without contacting and negotiating with the copyright holder.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 31st, 2018, 11:06 am

Incidentally, the best way to retain copyright of your translation is to either (1) work from a text that is clearly free, or (2) work from multiple texts, comparing them. And of course, in most translations, the relatively minor differences among Greek critical editions in the same tradition simply don't survive the translation process unless your translation is hyper-literal. And even then ...
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Jacob Rhoden
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

Post by Jacob Rhoden » August 16th, 2018, 10:07 pm

Stanley Porter writes an interesting article in his recent book "Linguistic Analysis of the Greek new Testament", its chapter 1, titled "Who owns the Greek Text of the New Testament? Issues that Promote and Hinder Further Study"
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daveburt
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

Post by daveburt » August 18th, 2018, 7:16 am

Jacob Rhoden wrote:
August 16th, 2018, 10:07 pm
Stanley Porter writes an interesting article in his recent book "Linguistic Analysis of the Greek new Testament", its chapter 1, titled "Who owns the Greek Text of the New Testament? Issues that Promote and Hinder Further Study"
Thanks for pointing this out, Jacob. I mentioned in another thread here that I saw something along these lines (though a much briefer summary) somewhere on the web, and I did think it was from Stan Porter. This fuller version frames the discussion interestingly with the legal wranglings over 4QMMT, and its conclusion squares with Jonathan's plea, Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text.
Porter, 'Who owns the Greek Text' wrote:I am not a lawyer nor the son of a lawyer
...
the text of the ancient Greek New Testament is presented in the Nestle-Aland edition (and by implication the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament also, which claims to be the same word for word) probably is not protectable by copyright under European law, and almost assuredly not protectable by copyright under US law.
...
This conclusion is consistent with the kind of public access to information that is so important to the world of scholarship. Such public access deserves to be supported and promoted in all of the work that we as scholars do.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 18th, 2018, 3:50 pm

Jacob Rhoden wrote:
August 16th, 2018, 10:07 pm
Stanley Porter writes an interesting article in his recent book "Linguistic Analysis of the Greek new Testament", its chapter 1, titled "Who owns the Greek Text of the New Testament? Issues that Promote and Hinder Further Study"
I met Stan when James Tauber and I did a pre-conference workshop for the Bingham 2018 Colloquium. He very much wants the kind of open data that I consider important, and he has been saying that for a long time. Their Open Text project ran straight into this issue: they couldn't release their analysis with the text.
daveburt wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 7:16 am
Porter, 'Who owns the Greek Text' wrote:I am not a lawyer nor the son of a lawyer
...
the text of the ancient Greek New Testament is presented in the Nestle-Aland edition (and by implication the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament also, which claims to be the same word for word) probably is not protectable by copyright under European law, and almost assuredly not protectable by copyright under US law.
...
This conclusion is consistent with the kind of public access to information that is so important to the world of scholarship. Such public access deserves to be supported and promoted in all of the work that we as scholars do.
I feel a follow-up blog post or two coming on ...

I've heard that argument many times over the years, but I'm not convinced that it is true. This argument would hold if we had the original manuscripts and were simply copying them, but there is a creative process of trying to reconstruct them and different theories about how best to do this. Beyond that, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, paragraphs, headings, etc. are creative work. So there's at least a reasonable argument that the Nestle Aland is a derivative work that is independently copyrightable.

So is the critical apparatus. Ironically, if you simply display the earliest texts directly, as Alan Bunning does, the texts are not copyrightable. The alignment is, but Alan has licensed his work freely. Human judgment goes into evaluating these readings - that judgment is not copyrightable, only the text that contains it.

At least in Europe, there is protection for critical editions, but only for 30 years.
Member States may protect critical and scientific publications of works which have come into the public domain. The maximum term of protection of such rights shall be 30 years from the time when the publication was first lawfully published.
Which is at least interesting. A 30-year-old Nestle Aland would be quite usable, that would give us the UBS 3, which differs from the UBS 5 by only 25 words or so, according to this link. I wonder if UBS 3 is still under copyright for some reason I don't understand. The text hasn't changed much since then.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » August 18th, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 3:50 pm
At least in Europe, there is protection for critical editions, but only for 30 years.
This is a EU directive, not a law. It doesn't hold up in any court.
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