Copy Rights

Copy Rights

Article bK

Copyrights give the author of any literature the right to disallow the reproduction thereof by others, and thus gives the author the opportunity to be the sole reproducer of his literature. Copyrights pertain to all literature, whether it is a writing, poetry, or songs. In our day of computers, copyrights also pertain to computer programs which programs can do many helpful things and yet can easily be copied and reproduced. Copyrighted material can be stored on paper, or on cassette, or on computer storage methods. bK-1

As copyrights give the author the authority to disallow any reproduction of his work by others, it allows the author to produce and sell his literature without any competition since, all others can be barred from reproducing his work and literature. Copyrights are similar to patents as they both help the author or inventor to receive a monetary reward for his work. This in so far is proper, as one does deserve a proper reward for his work. Some might have worked on an invention or informative book for numerous years and if others could freely copy his book or invention the inventor and writer would have no just reward for his labors. Yet obviously one should not expect too much payment for his labors. bK-2

Apostle Paul speaking of those who labor much in the Gospel advocated that they should be materially (financially) rewarded for their labors saying, "{7} Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? …{9} For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? …{13} Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? {14} Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." (1 Cor 9:7&9&13-14). bK-3

Although Paul as above encouraged the early Christians to materially reward those who labored in the Gospel, yet Paul did not demand such material reward for his own labors in the Gospel. Paul rather concerning himself wanted to make the Gospel without charge lest he should hinder the work of the Gospel. Paul speaking of such said, "{12} If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. …{14} Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. {15} But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. …{18} What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel." (1 Cor 9:12&14-15&18). Considering the above teachings of Paul it is clear Christians should be willing to give financial aid to those who labor much in the Gospel, while yet those who labor in the Gospel should not be demanding such aid and should be willing to labor in the Gospel without such aid. bK-4

Although copyrighting in some situations might be practical and proper, is it honorable or proper to copyright religious and evangelical literature to bar others from reproducing it to thereby provide material payment for the author of such material? Would God desire one who has written an inspirational evangelical song or article to copyright it, so he can bar others from copying it, and thus force everyone to buy it from him? Would the Apostles have copyrighted their evangelical and religious material to force the Church and the world to buy it from them? Would the individual who has a true burden for souls and is earnestly seeking to spread the Gospel, want to bar others from reproducing his evangelical song or article so all must buy it from him? It does not appear so. The above questions should be honestly considered. One should remember how Paul did not want to do anything that would hinder the Gospel and desired to make the Gospel without charge. Although Paul advocated that those ministers who labour much in the Gospel should receive material aid from the Church, yet Paul clearly would not have encouraged ministers to require individuals to buy tickets to attend their evangelical services, to thus receive due payment for their labors. Copyrighting religious material to bar people from copying it and force them to buy it, has some similarity with ministers barring people from their services unless they buy a ticket which indeed would seem strange to us. It appears God would have a much better way to provide for those who write religious writings or songs than that writers would disallow copying of their religious material to force everyone to buy it. The Church could or should help those who spend much time in producing good religious literature (1 Tim 5:16-18), and the individual himself also should be willing to donate much time and talent to the Gospel. To sell religious material at a price sufficient to pay the printing expenses in many situations is proper and understandable, but to bar the church and the world from making copies of religious literature because of forcing payment for creating the literature seems quite uncomely. bK-5

It should here be considered that one could yet copyright his literature without the intent of barring others from making copies. One could copyright his literature and therewith state that his literature can yet be freely reproduced and distributed in it's original form. It would be quite proper to take advantage of copyright laws in a way as might hinder others from altering one's religious literature and reproducing it in an altered form. Copyrighting to avoid others from altering one's work could be called copy preserving, while copyrighting to bar all others from making copies could be called copy barring. In this article copyrighting with the intent of barring others from making copies, will at times be called copy barring. In our society copyrights generally pertain to copy barring. bK-6

Likely most Christians would admit that religious literature which is very focused on soul winning and spreading the Gospel should not be copy barred. Yet should any religious material, which literature all could be a blessing and strengthening to God's people as well as to seeking souls be copy barred? It is true that some individuals might not create as much religious literature if they would not be able to force others to buy it and thus receive a material reward, yet that religious literature that is created mainly because of hoping for material reward might not be so valuable anyway. bK-7

Christians should respect copyrights and refrain from copying copyrighted material according to the true demand of the laws of the land. Note even the laws of the land in some situations, give some liberty to make copies of copy barred material. Although Christians should honour copyright laws, and thus not freely copy, copy barred material, such yet clearly does not mean Christians should take advantage of copy barring rights in dealing with their own evangelical writings and songs. Christians should consider how the Gospel is something that is to be spread abroad and freely shared, while copy barring intentionally refuses everyone the permission to make a copy of that religious material which could be a blessing to the Church and the world. One should here remember how Paul encouraged making the Gospel without charge, and remember how Paul said, "For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Note this Scripture in the NIV Bible reads, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”. bK-10

Copyrights do not only create profits for authors but since people dare not make individual copies for themselves and must buy them from those who produce them, copyrights give the opportunity for printing businesses to print and sell more literature. Printing businesses thus might tend to promote copyrights for copyrights enhance their position and give them opportunity for more sales. Printing businesses can buy sole publishing rights from an author and thus gain sole rights to a book even if they did not create it. Printing businesses also can create new books which they may copyright and have sole rights to, by compiling various non copyrighted literature together, or by translating non copyrighted material from another language. Although it likely is proper for publishing business to bar humanity from copying their non religious literature, yet it seems quite dishonorable to do so with their evangelical and religious literature. God has ways for religious publishing businesses to receive due reward and payment for creating or compiling religious literature, without them barring both the Church and the world from copying their religious material. Publishers involved with religious books could within their books state that they would appreciate the privilege of being the sole large scale producer of a book they have compiled, but yet also state that the book in part or as a whole may be freely copied by individuals. Yet no publisher who requests this right to a religious book, should charge an unnecessary price for their book, nor should they allow a shortage of the book but rather make sure the book is easily available for all. Possibly less religious publishing would be done if publishers could not bar each other from producing their religious works and thereby have potential for greater sales and price, yet those religious creations of publishers whose emphasis is monetary reward, very likely is not as important or valuable as that which is done because of a desire to please God and bless humanity anyway. bK-11

The writer of this article knows of one song writer who said he did not even copyright his song or songs, but when his songs were published in a book they were marked as copyrighted. The writer of this article also spoke to a religious publishing business about putting the Mirror of Truth on computer media. This publishing business had previously printed the Mirror of Truth and I thought this book might already be available on computer media, which if it was, I thought I might not bother doing so. Note when a book is put onto computer media, firstly the book can be easily searched for any particular word or phrase, secondly phrases from the book can easily be inserted into other writings without retyping them, thirdly the book can again be easily printed in any size or font, and any corrections can easily be made, and fourthly the book in this form can be reproduced about at no cost. The publishing business to whom I spoke about putting the Mirror of Truth on computer media, quite quickly said, “If you do put the Mirror of Truth on computer media you may only use it for personal use and may not make copies of it and distribute them”. As I slightly questioned this matter, this publisher then spoke of some particular board having the authority to set the rules with regards to copying the Mirror of Truth. This is interesting because the Mirror of Truth is not even copyrighted, and would not John Holdeman want his book to be freely distributed without copyright restrictions? bK-12

Although the Church should be concerned about obeying the laws of the land (including copyright laws), yet it appears the Church should not be concerned about attaining the rights of copy barring for individuals among themselves. The Church rather should encourage their people to freely give to humanity, that evangelical song or literature which they by the grace of God have created, and if necessary it would be very good if the Church would give material aid to those who labor much in the Gospel, so such ones can give their literature to humanity without copy restrictions and needless cost. What is the Church's real concern about copyrights today? bK-13

Encyclopedias state that no official copyright laws even existed before 1710 AD, and state that before such time literature was so difficult to reproduce that copyrighting laws were not really important or necessary. The writer of this article could not find any early Christian writings about dealing with copyrights and likely because no copyright laws existed in early years. bK-14

Since copy barring very much hinders the distribution of material that is beneficial to the work of Christ's Kingdom, better ways of rewarding those who labor much in the Gospel should be sought for than copy barring their material. It should here be remembered that it is more blessed to give than to receive and considered that many writers could simply donate their work to the Gospel rather than copy barring it, without suffering any real material need. Yet where one has the talent and desire to create much useful religious literature, and suffers material need because of doing so, and further is even hindered from creating the much good literature he could create because of material needs, it appears Christians should take Paul's advice and help them in their work, for the labourer is worthy of his reward (1 Tim 5:16-18). bK-15

Even if the local Christian congregation would not particularly help the one who spends much time in creating good religious material, it appears there are better methods than copy barring to provide some payment to those who create much good religious literature. Authors instead of barring others from making copies of their material, simply could encourage those who feel to and are able, to donate a small fee to their work and especially so if they make and receive copies of their literature. But authors therewith should advocate that all should feel free to make copies of their literature, even if they do not make a contribution, because they do not want copyrights and money to hinder the distribution of religious literature. Yet an author clearly is doing the most for others, if he can give his work to the world without any request for payment. It appears various ways of giving some payment to authors could be exercised, better than disallowing the making of copies and forcing all to buy their material. May Christians remember how Jesus said, “…freely ye have received freely give”. bK-16

In our computer age, one could spend much time putting many good books on computer media, after which this computer media can be reproduced at about no cost. Four hundred large books can be placed on one CD rom disk and can be reproduced for about no cost. The writer would very much like to see such being done with valuable books such as the Martys Mirror, John Holdeman's writings, Meno Simon's writings and many other vital writings. Note after books are on disk they then can easily be searched for any word or phrase and numerous other benefits as explained above in paragraph bK-12 can be experienced. Four hundred books can be searched for any word in just a few seconds. Religious periodicals that have been published over a period of many years could all be placed on one disk, which literature then could easily be searched for any word, name, or phrase. bK-17

Many religious writings such as written by Martin Luther and John Calvin (which writings we Mennonites do not think to be totally sound), yet they are very popular and thus are available on computer media. Yet concerning those writings which the Mennonites and the Anabaptists would have advocated, such writings are not very popular and it does not appear such books are yet available on computer media. In one respect it would not seem fair if one would spend much time and even sufficient money putting such books on computer media, and after doing so receive nothing for it, while others would selfishly make copies for themselves at basically no cost. Yet again the Church could help such an one in the work, to thus allow freely copying of his work. Another option would be one could distribute such computer media with the encouragement that those who make or receive copies thereof would give a particular amount to the work, while yet also stating if one does not feel they can afford such fee they can still copy it, as they do not want money to hinder the distribution of the religious material. The author of any such work also should be minded to give it as much as is possible without charge to humanity. Just a small portion of the much time that is spent in travel, or pursuing a high living standard, or making quilts, or entertainment, if utilized could put many books on computer media and could create much good religious material. Concerning the Martyrs Mirror one can hardly grasp how much time and effort was put into it, back when it was first created. Yet to this date no one has ever added an exhaustive topical index to it. An exhaustive topical index enables one to see everywhere a book speaks about any particular topic. In our day it would not take very much effort to put this large book on computer media which largely would replace the need of a exhaustive topical index being added to it, as this book then could be searched for any word or phrase. bK-20

Although many good religious books still need to be put on computer media (disk), many good books already are on disk. Although it costs very little to reproduce or copy these disks after the initial work of putting the books onto computer media is done, yet these disks sell for quite a large sum. These disks also usually are copy righted to avoid any one making copies. Yet it is nice that some software businesses who have created these disks, state that they will make exceptions to the price if one really needs them and does not feel he can afford the price. Some computer disks containing many books on them might cost several hundred dollars, but only cost a few dollars to reproduce or copy is such really honorable, proper, and necessary? bK-21

This article is not intended to mean one cannot charge a price for religious literature sufficient to pay for the printing thereof, but rather means God has a better way to pay the author of religious literature for his labors than to bar humanity from making copies thereof. May this article not cause Christians to selfishly expect free copies, but may Christians rather be willing to donate to those who spend much time in creating good religious material so they can give their religious material to the Church and the world without copy barring. May this article also encourage those who create good religious material to not demand or expect more then they should for their labors, and to do their best to give their religious material to humanity without charge or copy barring. May God's people find the right way of dealing with Gospel related material. Farewell bK-22

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