bible-web and the Importance of Copyfree

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bible-web is now a thing. I forked kjv to make it. kjv is a cool set of scripts that takes a tab separated value file (tsv) and formats it for your pager. I wrote a couple of ugly scripts to generate a tsv for a World English Bible (WEB) version of kjv. Thus, bible-web. It's not called "web" purely because web is ambiguous. For starters, it's the name of the GNOME desktop web browser. I wanted it to be clear what program you were using when you launched bible-web. This program would not have been possible without the components being copyfree.

You can read the Copyfree Standard Definition here. I won't be posting the whole thing. In essence if something is copyfree, it means you can use, modify, redistribute, etc. without restriction. Most copyfree licenses just state that you must attribute the original author/developer and that there's no warranty when using the work. This seems pretty great right? The fact that kjv and the World English Bible translation are copyfree (specifically, public domain) meant that I could use, modify, and redistribute them however I wanted. This benefits you, the reader, because now you can read the WEB in your terminal with bible-web.

kjv and WEB being copyfree was a requirement for bible-web to exist in its current form. Initially, I tried to create a fork of kjv with the English Standard Version of the Bible, one of my preferred translations. However, due to the Terms and Conditions of their API, I could not download a whole copy of the ESV. I considered creating a script that did this against their conditions since it was for personal use and I wouldn't redistribute it. However, I decided against it. Someone suggested I just use WEB, so that it would be easier to implement and that I could redistribute it.

Copyfree wasn't just useful for letting me use and redistribute the works in general. It also ensured that I was able to combine the works. Some free licenses, like the GPL and the CC BY-SA 3.0 are great in that they make it so you can redistribute and modify the works. However, they restrict how you can do so. Both of these licenses stipulate that any derivatives of the work must also be licensed under the same terms. This would mean if kjv was licensed under the GPL (typically used for software) and WEB was licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0 (typically used for written works and other art), then combining them in bible-web wouldn't be legal. Even though the licenses have the same goals of allowing people to modify and redistribute the works in much of the same ways to encourage the development of free works, they are incompatible with each other. As a result, they actually discourage the development of free works. If I couldn't find a copyfree bible reader and translation, I probably wouldn't have bothered making bible-web. If either of kjv or WEB were copyleft (assuming they used GPL or or CC BY-SA 3.0, the most popular licenses for each medium respectively), then it would've been illegal to include them together as the GPL is only for software and CC is more for art since it doesn't specify what to do with source code.

Copyfree licenses on the other hand let you do this. Any of the copyfree certified licenses allow anyone to use the works however they see fit. Since I had the freedom to combine kjv and WEB into a new work, I could create bible-web. I have given also you that same freedom by releasing bible-web under the Tesla Copyfree Open Innovation License or COIL. This means you have the same freedoms to with bible-web that I had when creating it. This includes relicensing it if needed to be able to be combined with another work.

Copyfree is how we can make this world better. Copyleft, in its aim to promote free culture, actually restricts it due to its strict licensing conditions for derivatives. Copyright just restricts. It doesn't help anyone contribute to culture. I encourage you to license your work under a copyfree license, preferably COIL, so that anyone will have complete freedom when using your work. Maybe, they'll create something cool that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

Disclaimer: I don't think bible-web is really that amazing. I only wrote some scripts to take the text files WEB distributes and format them as a tsv file. It's just a great example of how copyfree is necessary. Also, I believe having free access to the Bible is important, and bible-web helps with that.

All content on this site may be redistributed under the terms of the COIL.