Christians and copyright

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by AresMan, Oct 8, 2005.

  1. AresMan

    AresMan
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    What does everyone think about Christianity and the copyright law? Should Christians depend on the full exercise of copyright for the "ministry"?
    Let's say you print Gospel tracts or other publications that have a very good and clear Gospel presentation that someone else thinks would greatly aid in winning souls. Is it expedient for the Gospel that you keep production of this locked down by full enforcement of copyright and possibly sue another Christian who exceeds appropriate fair use rights by copying too much of this work in his own work to try to further spread the Gospel?

    What about most of the new Bible versions that have fully enforced copyright restrictions. If some of these are supposed to be better translations, why hold back production of what you believe would benefit more people?
    What about Christian music artists who may make good music, but do not allow unauthorized redistribution of even the words to their songs? And it seems to me that the more conservative artists are stricter on copyright than the more liberal ones. Once we learn these songs and get them stuck in our heads we then lose some freedom in how we can praise God by having to worry about copyright infringement.

    Does anyone else ever think about the excessive enforcement of copyright by many Christian individuals and organizations today as a hinderance to the ministry?
     
  2. AresMan

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    To me, this is not a good testimony.
     
  3. bapmom

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    I think there ought to be a small amount of consideration for whether the fellow Christian makes his living with the material he has copyrighted.

    Gospel tracts I would say should be given out freely, I wouldn't think it right to sue another church over copying of tracts. And yes, our church makes our own tracts, so we have that sort of a possibility here.

    But when it comes to a professional musician, if they make their living by that copyrighted material, than they have the right to have it respected as such. Though I would respect the person much more if they chose to allow some leniency with their material.
     
  4. gb93433

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    Inside of the cover of your Bible it mentions how many verses which can be quoted. Copyright allows a company to be paid for their work. One would not go to work and expect to work for free and then support a family. So why should a man who spends his time in ministry?
     
  5. DeeJay

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  6. El_Guero

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    Smart businessmen (& women) in market economies make money off of God and His ministry ...
     
  7. bapmom

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    ...........and the minister is worthy of his wages
     
  8. tinytim

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    Copyrights also protect the consumer by guaranteeing that what he buys is what he gets.
    Without copyright laws someone could change words in, say the NIV, and pass it off as the real thing, thus destroying the original's reputation.

    Although abiding by copyright laws can be bothersome, overall they protect the citizens from piracy.
     
  9. AresMan

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    How did the apostles and missionaries survive 2000 years ago without copyright? I am not saying that there should be no copyright, I am thinking that there are ways to make money from your materials without fully enforcing copyright.

    Consider the Creative Commons. There are several copyright license provisions that can be attached to form a license that grants freedoms to the user, while still allowing authors to profit from their works. You can use the Creative Commons attribution, no derivatives, noncomercial provisions, which would allow free redistribution of the work provided that the one redistributing it not charge for this service. This would mean that something could be freely duplicated and redistributed in electronic form, but without permission, the user could not print and sell copies of the work without bearing the cost of doing this for free. This would be an expensive and economically infeasible endeavor. The copyright holder (who still retains all rights) can then print and sell copies of the work, and people would still buy it because no one else but the copyright holder and the publisher could sell printed copies of the work. The convenience of having the work in printed book format would be a benefit to many and many would gladly purchase a bound copy, since they could still freely redistribute the work electronically at no cost. Under a free noncommercial redistribution scheme, the author can encourage uninhibited redistribution and still have the legal ability to be the sole profiteer.
     
  10. bapmom

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    I see Ares.

    Just speaking with music, I know lots of different Christian music companies only enforce copyrights after a certain amount of copies....perhaps 100. So a church choir of 40 can copy their material for no cost. The ones Ive been involved in have always asked the company first.

    I didn't know that there was so much leeway written into copyright laws.
     
  11. AresMan

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    A common idea about copyright law is that it is necessary for integrity. Yes. That is true. However, one does not have to enforce all the provisions of copyright for the sake of integrity. One can maintain integrity by providing a copyright license that requires attribution and no modifications by any who redistribute. That is the integrity part of copyright law.
    Trademark law is the law that was created primarily for guaranteeing integrity to the user.
     
  12. kubel

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    I agree that the author / translator / publisher should have the right to copyright their work in order to preserve the original work. But I think it's dangerous to make money off of the spreading of the Gospel of Christ.

    People / publishers that reserve all rights on their work are in it for the money- no doubt in my mind. It kind of makes you wonder where their hearts were when they made it. Was it for Christ or was it for $$$.
     
  13. gb93433

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    Name a few ways which you could make money and pay your bills by working for free in your job.
     
  14. AresMan

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    The Creative Commons is not part of copyright law. Copyright law says that an author has the exclusive right to his respective work. This entails that the author can determine how his work can be redistributed. Under fully copyright law, except by the interpretive "fair use" clause, no one can make any copies of another's work whatsoever. Fair use allows one to quote and use small bits enough for research and critical purposes.
    Most authors have a copyright license or a notice that then spells out provisions that are not specifically presented in copyright law. An author cannot technically add restrictions, but can provide some freedoms to the user that are not permitted under copyright law. Hence, Lawrence Lessig invented the Creative Commons, for encouraging and informing authors of ways to license their works in such ways that allow users some beneficial freedoms while still allowing the authors to still profit at their discretion.

    Being a computer scientist, I know that most EULAs for software are not completely legally enforceable because they mainly try to enforce more restrictions than are available under copyright law. I think copyright law is still solely sufficient for this purpose.

    As far as Christianity is concerned, I feel Christian authors should seek for ways to allow their works, which may contain vital messages, to get to as many people as possible, even under profit-making schemes. That's just my opinion and conviction, and I think the Creative Commons is a very good system for reaching the best compromise between author's rights and users' freedoms.
     
  15. gb93433

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    Should I wonder about the company you work for or own? Should you be profiting at other people's expense? Why or why not?

    Are you telling me that you are willing to pay Muslims for the gas you put in your car but not pay Christians for their work?

    When I was in business as a contractor I was in business to make a profit so I could prosper, pay my bills and not be worse then the infidels. I spent a lot of time at some of the best schools in the world to get training and attended many conferences just so I could build a better building and do a good job. During that time many invited me in and I had the chance to share the gospel many times. I made money off of them and shared the gospel too. My skills and ethics in business clearly established my testimony. I gave a lot of people pleasure by building an excellent building. It secured my reputation. I never did work for people who were only interested in what it cost. I built it for a reasonable price which I could live with. Sometiems the person would go somewhere else. One time a potential customer told me I was too high. I knew I was not. The person learned the hard way by being cheated out of some money and being exhausted of their funds and the building was not completed. Later they came and asked me to finish the building. They told me they wished they had listened to me.

    Once I had a man ask me about how much a building would cost to build and that he was only going to be in it for five years. I told him, "the same price as if you were going to be in it for 100 years." I refused to give him a price. The building he did have built was cheap and poorly constructed. He was a hyper-fundamentalist talking with me in front of a non-believer who was his neighbor. You can imagine the testimony he had with the non-believer neighbor I was doing work for at the time. I heard the comments from the non-believer about his neighbor.

    Simply put if you don't like the price then don't buy it. But don't complain because you are too greedy and feel you are entitled to it.
     
  16. gb93433

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    A lot of those artists do work for free for those who cannot afford it. I have been to many rehearsals. Sometimes they are better than what the ticket holding customers get.

    Years ago I worked for one of the best Christian conference grounds in the US. Every year they brought in a large group of prisoners for free because of the paying customers. How many churches do you know who bring in a group of prisoners to treat them like kings and feed them well. The food was the best and all I could eat. The man in charge of the food was a retired manager for a large restaurant and motel chain. We had better food than most people cooked at home.

    The first year they started with tents outside. They have continued to be very generous with others. God has abundantly blessed them.
     
  17. AresMan

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    I am not talking about working for free, however. I am talking about finding ways to make money from your work while at the same time giving as much freedom to the users of your work as feasibly possible. I think I gave a decent scenario with the Creative Commons Attribution No-derivatives Noncommercial clauses, wherein the copyright holder is still the sole profiteer and users are still given unlimited duplication freedom of the work provided they not sell copies. This is possible under copyright law, because no one else has the right to duplicate your work otherwise, without your license. This does several things:
    1. More people will be able to read the work and thus benefit from its important message. Mindshare increases and your audience is larger than if your work only utilized traditional copyright provisions. Thus,
    2. There is more of a chance that more people will buy a copy of your printed work in the bookstore. Since you are the only one legally entitled to sell copies, only you can legally recover the costs of printing copies in convenient tangible media. Not everyone enjoys reading things on a computer screen.
    3. This is a way to leverage what the Information Superhighway was made for--easier duplication of information. Anyone with a computer and Internet access can become a publisher. We no longer need a publisher with a printing press to voice our opinions.
    Because of electronic media, the Internet provides for zero-marginal cost economics. The cost of creating copies of "intellectual property" essentially amounts to zero. Hence, the full traditional exercise of copyright in the digital age creates an artificial scarcity of resources. Unlike things like food, fossil fuel, and labor and supply costs of building buildings as was alluded to earlier, there is effectively no limitation on resources with works of the mind and heart. Therefore, copyright enforces an artificial limit on these resources.
    At the time copyright law was written it made very much sense because of the limited resources and cost of duplication where intellectual works were still fixated on tangible and limited media. Now that the Information Superhighway has arrived, we reach a crossroads: zero-marginal cost economics and unlimited resources, but a need to profit on work. On one side you have draconian laws that keep getting more and more intrusive, such as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the INDUCE Act. On the other side you have apparent anarchy with unlimited freedom and a bottleneck of innovation, because there would be no motivation to produce without production-based sales. Copyright law is still good and necessary, but now we must think of how to leverage it and taylor it to how the Internet changes society without chilling either authors or users.
    I think this is a facinating subject that many authors should think about. Especially Christians who have the duty to spread God's message to the world. The World Wide Web makes it even more possible than ever, so let's find ways to utilize it and get paid too. [​IMG]
     
  18. TexasSky

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    My experience has been that most Christian publishers, in music and elsewhere, are reasonable about copyright. If you contact them, get the proper permissions from them, they are not rigidly restrictive. However, they have their own costs to cover. They have to pay their people, they have to pay for printing, they have to meet their expenses. So it is not unreasonable for them to ask that you honor that. They will often give discounts to bulk orders for churches, or offer special licenses to allow reasonable reproduction. If a work is presented as something for sell, then taking it and making 500 copies of it without paying for it or asking permission to do it is theft. Churches should not participate in theft. So of the two "greater crimes" I would think "theft" was the bigger crime.
     
  19. Joman

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    If a choir/artist sings for Christ is it good to grab their mp3 from the Internet?
     
  20. John of Japan

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    Only if you pay for it. Otherwise you are stealing, and that is one thing copyright law is designed to prevent. If you had any idea how much effort it takes to produce good music (music lessons, many hours of practice, hours of work writing it, paying for the instruments and equipment, etc., etc.), you would not have even asked the question. :rolleyes:
     

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