[Foundation-l] Dead Sea Scrolls

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Mon Oct 3 21:21:49 UTC 2011

On 10/03/11 11:34 AM, Ryan Kaldari wrote:
> 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]

Then it is a question of fact.  Do these images involve that minimal 
degree of originality? Do we need to publish the scans? How important is 
a good relationship with the museum?

> 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.

Absolutely!  It still takes someone with an understanding of the 
material to do that kind of work. Without that, this question is moot.

> 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.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list