[Foundation-l] Dead Sea Scrolls

Ryan Kaldari rkaldari at wikimedia.org
Mon Oct 3 18:34:08 UTC 2011

I think we are fairly safe hosting the images of the original fragments, 
even by Israeli law. Israel does not recognize "sweat of the brow" and 
requires a minimal degree of originality to claim copyright.[1][2]

The Israeli Supreme Court did declare that a transcription of the Dead 
Sea Scrolls was copyrightable, but mostly because a large percentage of 
the source material was lost or damaged and required educated guesswork 
to fill in the gaps. If we were doing our own guesswork based on 
photographs of the fragments, I think it would be reasonable to say that 
we are the sole copyright holders of such a transcription.

Ryan Kaldari

1. Tempska, Urzula (2002). "'Originality' After the Dead Sea Scrolls 
Decision: Implications for the American Law of Copyright". /Marquette 
Intellectual Property Law Review/ *6* (1): 132.

2. Elkin-Koren, Niva (2001). "Of Scientific Claims and Proprietary 
Rights: Lessons from the Dead Sea Scrolls", /Houston Law Review/ *38* 
(2): 458, 460.

On 10/3/11 6:16 AM, Anthony wrote:
> On Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 4:55 AM, Ray Saintonge<saintonge at telus.net>  wrote:
>> On 10/01/11 5:36 AM, Anthony wrote:
>>> On Sat, Oct 1, 2011 at 6:44 AM, Elias Gabriel Amaral da Silva
>>> <tolkiendili at gmail.com>    wrote:
>>>> In practical terms, what they can do? Wikipedia is hosted in US.
>>>> Therefore, for a successful takedown, the museum must sue in US.
>>> Well, for one thing, they could sue reusers.
>>> WMF using the work is one thing.  WMF telling the rest of the world
>>> that the work is public domain and anyone can use it for any purpose
>>> without permission, is another.
>> The people who really feel offended by the Israel Museum's claim would
>> do best to accept responsibility for their claims. Given the nature of
>> the work there is perhaps a little more skill to these scans than was
>> the case for NPG portraits. I don't know how a court decision would turn
>> out.  I am certainly not confident enough to pursue this myself, nor
>> would I want to do it for material I don't understand.
>> Anyone who simply feels that these scans should be freely available can
>> simply put them up on his own site in whatever country he wants, and
>> wait for the lawsuit to happen or not happen.  There are some areas
>> where I feel that Wikimedia policies about copyright are wrong, and even
>> paranoid, but I would be wrong to insist that any WMF project host them
>> unless I am ready to defend a legal action against a site that I fully
>> own and control.  That's what being responsible is about.
> I don't see a problem with hosting them on projects which allow
> non-free material, with a tag at the least saying that The Israel
> Museum claims copyright.  The museum doesn't seem to mind
> copying/distribution "for research or private study".  But the list of
> projects which allow non-free material doesn't include the most
> relevant project - wikisource.
> The "free content only" rule is meant to protect third parties, not WMF.
> But note here that I'm only talking about the images, not the text.
> The photographs do not, and are not meant to, depict the "image" which
> was created on the scrolls hundreds of years ago.  They are meant to,
> and do, depict the scrolls as they existed at the time the photos were
> taken.  This, I believe, is a major distinction between the NPG
> portraits and this one.
> The scrolls themselves were created to depict text, not an image, and
> there is there seems to be absolutely no dispute at all that the
> *text* of the scrolls (to the extent it can be determined) is public
> domain.
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