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It's funny.  Laugh.

World's Oldest Book is GPLed 235

figlet writes "The Diamond Sutra is the 'World's Earliest Dated Printed Book.' It was discovered in China in 1907 and now resides at the British Library." The colophon reads: "Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong. (May 11, 868 A.D.)" Apparently this was version 0.001 of the GPL.
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World's Oldest Book is GPLed

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Note, however, that Revelations was written much later than everything else in the Bible, and not by the same author(s). Don't make the mistake of thinking that the Bible is the result of a single, internally consistent effort. What is said in Revelations, for example, may or may not fit with the intentions of the author(s) of Deuteronomy, or the Gospels, or what have you.

    The Bible is not the word of God; it is the word of many, many different humans, who all believed they were writing in accordance with God's will. Whether or not they were right is an article of faith.

    I could be wrong, but I believe that most Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, agree that this is true.

  • zantispam,

    I realize you're not flaming here. You're questioning and debating, which are good things. I'm enjoying this conversation, other than the frustration from the feeling that we're talking past each other somewhat, and that I'm not sure how to understand your point better or make myself clearer.

    A few answers to your questions:

    • You are correct that the only part of the Bible to come "direct from the hand of God," per the Bible itself, would be the Ten Commandments.
    • There are some portions that read, in effect "God said to write down X, so here it is." Revelation, some of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel come to mind. But you are also correct that most of the Bible is not in this form.
    • Nevertheless, the Christian claim is that all of the books of the Bible, even those whose human authors don't make the claim of "Thus saith the LORD" in the text, are in fact inspired by God and therefore, in some sense, "the word of God".

    Now, what do we mean by "fact"? I take "fact" to mean simply a statement about reality that is true. It is a "fact" that water molecules are composed of two hydrogen atoms plus one oxygen atom. It is not a "fact" that the moon is made of green cheese.

    The Christian claim about the Bible is either true or false. If it's true, then it's a fact that the Bible is the word of God; if not, then not.

    I don't think that this claim is falsifiable, in the scientific sense. That's why it requires faith (something I already admitted). But please remember that "non-falsifiable" is not the same thing as "false."

    Does that clarify or muddy?

  • No one owns a copyright or trademark on the name "bible". There are many, many, versions (even a comic book based on it) out there and all it takes is a little imagination, a thirst for power, and GOD (or a big government and billy graham or king henry VIII) on your side for adoption. :)

    Sound familiar?

    -Erik-

  • Perhaps I should have stated my point better.

    You can take a copy of aleister crowley's satanic bible, change 30% of it (to protect from copyright, which the satanic bible is AFAIK), and call it the christian bible and no one can touch you. In fact, you could call your church a christian one, sporting this bible, and STILL no one could touch you!

    It takes a leader and 1 follower to start a religion in any given state after paying a said fee. Even less if you pay the $1 to be a licensed reverend in the universal life church, in las vegas, NV. They respect all forms of religion equally and yes, in the state of nevada (and several others too), you can perform marriages.

    Why do I know this? Because religion and the figures involved in it are even funnier than the L.A. Improvisation on a friday night.

    -Erik-
  • Because, I presume, it is a fact.

    In the literal sense, the Bible is not the Word of God. God did not himself write it. God did not dictate all of the books to whomever wrote them.

    Since the books were written physically by humans, and these humans believed that they were writing in accordance with God's Will, and none of them are around today to ask about the subject, it follows that to beleve that the authors were led by God to pen those words requires faith.

    The above poster was simply stating a fact that is readily verifiable, as opposed to a fact that requires faith that the AC may not have (or want, for that matter).


    A statement that can not be proven is not a fact. A Fact can be proven true or false. If I say to you 'God himself picked up a pen and wrote the exact words which dwell in the bible' you can not dissprove that. It is my opinion that this is true, and it would be your opinion that it is not. But since we can neither view the event, ask the participants, or check mutually agreed upon sources for confirmation or denial it is impossible to prove such a statement. Hence you can not say that the Bible is NOT the literal word of God without a leap of faith which is equal to that required to believe that the bible IS the literal word of God. Hence all of you atheists are in your own religion, the only truly unbiased are those who are truly agnostic.

    Kintanon
  • So much for having a sense of humor I guess.

    Shea and Wilson were making a point, just like I said in an earlier post - RELIGION IS HILARIOUS. If you look at it from a very distant perspective, taking a look at all the ritual and bullshit and sidestepping and modification that's performed over the years (remember, jesus was blue eyed and blonde-haired until people started wondering how he could be that and jewish at the same time), it's damn hilarious.

    Morals can exist without religion. Marx and Nietzche (sp?) made some good points, albeit not complete ones.

    23 | inv(666)
    Hot Dogs | Prayer
    Principia | Bible
    Kalista | Cross

    Do the math.

    -Erik-
  • There are a few slashdot clients out there done in perl, it wouldn't take more than 3 or 4 lines of code to write a regex filter into it.

    It's hilarious, I see more posts about how the quality of slashdot has degraded over the last few years, and with the exception of more people and a moderation system, I see the same bullshit, with the exception of more complaints from people who are used to living in a Burger King (have it your way) world.

    Get over it. Start your own website. Write the perl filter that your probably going to sit and complain about until someone else does it, but please, don't waste my bandwidth and others bitching!

    (note: the only reason I write these is because hopefully they will die down - obviously the web has disassociated people with the concept of an OPERATOR and a USER and what those differences are, despite corporate sponsorship)

    -Erik-
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    Oooooh! That was low! :) Besides, don't you know that the source code is covered by RATI regulations and can't be exported to non-Echelon members?
  • The legs of the symbol are faced the opposite direction from a Swastika. It was used as some middle eastern religious symbol of some sort.
  • Agnosticism is the most logical choice for someone who doesn't really believe in god.

    The reason I say this, is if god really came down from the heavens and said "obey me", I'll poke fun and laugh at all the atheists who denied him.

    There are too many rules and regulations in religions today, not to mention, that 99% of the most popular religions followers either follow a subset of the commandments and teachings, or don't follow them at all and tend to be a "social church goer". My in laws are catholic and always get a hoot out of the people they never see at church except for the holiday sessions.

    Remember folks, love one another only applies if said another is white, christian, sober, and clean cut. Everyone else can go fuck themselves, right?

    I'm sorry for all the rants, but living in a christian environment when I was young really shows you how hostile "good christians" are when you tell them you abide by a strict moral code that doesn't include god, but abides by most of the moral teachings of the bible.

    At least the Krishna's and the Koresh-types out there have followers who abide to THE LETTER, whether or not I agree with their teachings.

    -Erik-
  • by Micah ( 278 )
    I thought of that very verse as soon as I saw the question. You beat me to posting it. Oh well... :-)
  • All I said was that there were differences between the religions, which is true.

    I propose that all these "differences" are correct ways of answering the same problem from different points of view. That's why I posted in the first place. Doesn't anyone try to apply careful abstraction and meticulous analysis to what all these saints said and wrote? Or will we always be forced to "respect each others' differences" (agree to disagree)?

    My heart tells me that we are one in spirit. Why not one in mind, also?

  • I think that would be the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Not sure the date, but it'd be somewhere between 2000B.C. to 500B.C.
  • by vlax ( 1809 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:22AM (#1525074)
    The original texts (well, the canonical texts anyway - there are no original copies) were in circulation 1700 years ago. Copyright law allows at most 90 years after the authors' deaths. Even ignoring the pragmatic reasons, no it could never be copyrighted.

    Translations are a whole different matter. The King James version is over 500 years old and thus in the public domain for the same reasons as the early texts. A number of other older Bibles are also in the public domain.

    The NIV (the best of the contemporary English translations in my opinion) is copyrighted - every copy plainly states that it is licensed by The International Bible Society [gospelcom.net]. The terms of use are more liberal than the standard fair use provisions (see the NIV copyright statement [gospelcom.net].)

    Other modern translations have different requirements, but since Bible translators tend to do so out as a missionary calling rather than a source of income, the terms are often very liberal. A good comparison would be the World English Bible copyright [gospelcom.net] or the New American Standard [gospelcom.net].

    I believe there is a project to do a new, explicitly public domain translation, but I can't find their URL and I've forgotten the name.
  • Well considering the number of people who actually read the bible I would suspect that it would be easy to deceive them.
    EX.

    1. And the Great giant Gates strode onto the battle field followed by the damned.

    2. Linus called to his people. "Verrily I say unto you his iniquity has made him lax we shall perservere over our mortal enemy".

    3. And Linus stretched forth his holy staff and brought down the wrath of the one true god onto the evil one.

    4. The evil one was wrought with the power of the source and was rendered onto the powers of his own hell and tormentors of his own creation.
  • The Chinese block-printing technique is supposed to have originated around the 6th century A.D. Hand-copied books written on papyrus rolls or clay tablets date back to 3000 B.C. See the Britannica entry on books [britannica.com].

    Even the earliest form of copyright law didn't exist until the 15th century A.D., so it's not exactly surprising that any book published before then would be freely distributable.
  • Depends upon your definition of a book. Do inscribed deer femurs bound with hide constitute a book? If so, the divination records of the Shang and possibly Xia dynasties of China constitute the oldest of books, dating to the 2nd millenia BCE. The designation of this book as earliest probably presumes a printed work.

    There are certainly discourses which date to prior to the publication of this version of the Diamond Sutra, including the Bible, the Hindi scriptures, the I Ching, the Quran, but the texts we have of these works are later productions, rescriptions of previous, now lost, works.

  • I have some doubt unless you say "book" as something produced with "paper" as qualifiers.
  • The Bible means "books". Oh man. Even the name is badly translated into english... Don't you think we'd be calling it 'the bibila' or 'the bibliae' if they meant for it to be plural? Or would you like to lend credence to the 'poorly translated and badly put together' argument?

    Or, rather: If indeed The Bible is meant to be interpreted a certain way, shouldn't it be *translated* to reflect that? And if not, why not? Either accept it as accurate and take the words as face-value, or realize that it has problems and retranslate it to reflect the times and preserve the original message. And if you can't do either one, shut up. (that is to say, if you don't know what the original message is, you're in good company, and your ego isn't too big yet. :)

    And did you think that way when you were 10 or 11 because you realized what it might imply and don't think that way now because it seems too silly or massively stupid to interpret it that way, or did you change your mind because all the plagues in that book (whatever it may be, I argue that it isn't bound as a separate book ;) will already be visited upon you and your place from the tree of life has already been removed, and stuff for misquoting, quoting out of context, or otherwise mangling it?

    Boy I'm glad I'm an Atheist.
    But the evolution comment was cute. ;)

    Oh, and for the dude talking about statistical arguments for/against God: that was really funny! It just goes to show you never to stick an infinity sign (lemniscate, that is) into a stats problem. Or, go get a burger, decide not to believe in god, and still have a possibility of infinite happiness. That's some burger!


    ---
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • The King James version is Crown copyright, and therefore the copyright persists.

    One trivial question: what is the common link between Peter Pan and the King James Version of the Bible?

    They are the only two British books that have this privilege - Peter Pan was given this by a special act of Parliament as the profits from the sales were bequested to Great Ormand Street Hospital (a well known childerns' hospital in London)
  • Surely if it were GPL, I wouldn't be allowed to quote even a sentence from it without making my work GPL as well.
  • this is going to give them more cannon fodder when they say "Linux is old technology!" Closed Source weenies are gonna FUD with this...

    Dan
  • The swastika is a sanskrit symbol, denoting "it
    is well." Hitler adopted it for the 3rd reich.
    one finds it with the spokes pointing both ways.
  • Patiently for ESR's comment on this....specially since it appears to be Chinese...GPL and the offical OS....
  • I suspect most religions see it as worse to worship a false god than no god at all, so if any of those religions is right, but you don't know which one, atheism (or agnosticism) is the safest choice. It's not necessarily the best choice, though (even if you're unsure which god to believe in). See a discussion of Pascal's Wager (which argues that believing in God is the rational thing to do) if you're interested and haven't already.
    You can find one at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [stanford.edu].
  • You're wrong. Ever hear of burden of proof? Occam's Razor? A load of power-hungry cultists writing the bible is much simpler than invoking the ineffable. I'm much more likely to beleive quantum physics than christian/muslim/hindu etc. doctrine. I have faith in nothing. Faith is belief without justification. The essence of faith is giving up your questioning, doubt and reason. I believe in some things, but only if they are not disproved.



    I find it incongruous in the extreme that you proclaim a belief in Quantum Physics in one breath, then invalidate every previous civilizations explanation for the effects which we use Quantum physics to explain. There is NOTHING which makes the theories involved in Quantum Physics any more valid than the theories involved in Christianity, OR the roman Pantheon.
    You CAN NOT prove any of what you are saying one way or the other. I do not understand how you can assert a belief in something which is equally as vacuous as what you are denouncing and then turn around and claim you are doing so on some basis other than blind faith in what the priests (scientists) are telling you. I suggest you wake up for a moment and realize that your faith is no more or less valid than mine, or anyone elses, and has an equal chance of being correct. I happen to believe that my faith is correct in essence, you can believe that your faith is correct in essence, but stop trying to denegrate my faith simply because it is not yours.

    Kintanon
  • And is not making corrections likewise void of self-nature?

    No, I'm sure that particular thing exists from its own side. :')

    I'd never heard prajna paramita translated as heart of wisdom before, although that makes some sense. I'd thought that the translation was the ultimate wisdom, or perfection of wisdom. Sigh. So what's the word-for-word translation of Arya Bhagavati Prajnya Paramita Hirdaya? The translation I have here says "The Lady of Conquest, the Exalted Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom."

    BTW, if you're interested in english translations of the ACIP texts, you can find some of them, particularly including the Diamond Cutter Sutra, in the courses that are available at the ACI web site [world-view.org].

  • Thank you. Reading your response made me realize that I was argueing the wrong battle. (I think my point still stands, but I'm not going to argue it any more).

    (BTW, my Dharma name is Kongchong Thapkay which roughly translates as "Skillfull Means Of the Triple Gem." Guess I haven't been living up to it....)
  • The Bible means "books". Oh man. Even the name is badly translated into english... Don't you think we'd be calling it 'the bibila' or 'the bibliae' if they meant for it to be plural? Or would you like to lend credence to the 'poorly translated and badly put together' argument?

    Is this a surprise to you ? My first language is spanish so bible->books makes sense to me since library is "biblioteca" in spanish. I guess this word (Bible) doesn't make a lot of sense in non-latin languages like english and german.

    And did you think that way when you were 10 or 11 because you realized what it might imply and don't think that way now because it seems too silly or massively stupid to interpret it that way, or did you change your mind because all the plagues in that book (whatever it may be, I argue that it isn't bound as a separate book ;) will already be visited upon you and your place from the tree of life has already been removed, and stuff for misquoting, quoting out of context, or otherwise mangling it?

    No. When I was 10/11 I did not have enough background to understand a lot of things :) I just read the book of Revelation to find out how the world would end, reading it for the wrong reasons. As I matured I learned more about the history , culture, and meaning of the Bible. That's why I think I understand it better now than before. You see, the problem is not that it's badly translated, it's just that it's difficult to translate and difficult for a 20th (21st) century person to understand certain things.

    Anyways, this has gone way off topic. But it was interesting !!!
  • It says that it is not the earliest book, just the earliest dated book.

    When was the ealiest book, approximately?

  • by tilleyrw ( 56427 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:07AM (#1525104)
    1st post!!!


    The GPL is only the current incarnation of a spirit of openness, harmony, and cooperation which has existed since the beginning of the universe.


    Therefore, Linux is a fundamental element of the universe.

  • In the literal sense, the Bible is not the Word of God. God did not himself write it.

    This is a straw man, as Christians do not generally mean that they believe God picked up a pen and wrote out the Bible in KJV English when they say that the Bible is the "word of God."

    God did not dictate all of the books to whomever wrote them.

    This is an an assertion; and one that I would be interesting in how you "know" this. It happens to be precisely what many Christians believe about the origin of the books of the Bible (although the exact means of inspiration is debatable; not all Christians hold this view).

    Your unbelief hardly makes it a "fact that is readily verifiable." I'll happily admit that my belief that God inspired the human authors of the Bible is faith-based. But I'm boggled trying to imagine how I could prove that God didn't speak to John on the Isle of Patmos when he wrote down his vision.


  • The phenomon of "Hacker" is not a new.


    Galileo, Newton were bona fide hackers. They could have been hackers themselves, if they were born in our ages. French mathmaticians like Pascal, Ferma et al, used to form math clubs and enjoying solve riddles together. That, is the earlist, and purest form of "hacking".


    And according to Open Source historian, the idea of "Free ware" is not new. A copy of oldest freeware copyright can be found at the most unexpected place.


    This buddasim bible is the earliest datable printed book. And on it's copyright notice it states: "on behalf of my parents, this book is provided for free distribution"




    The link between free software movement and religion is not accidental...

    Open Source: A Documentary is brought to you by:
    "Microsoft, where do you want to go, today"
    and Viewers like you.
  • "Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution...

    Doesn't sound like the GPL to me--translators and commentators aren't required to distribute the original with their changes. More like a BSD-style or LGPL license.

    --Tim
  • or it means you're an idiot.
  • I could be wrong, but I believe that most Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, agree that this is true.

    Yeah... Kind of. Many people feel that the Bible's exceptional unity (you try telling a story over two thousand years) is evidence of exceptional divine involvement in its creation. I tend to agree that this is the case.

    Where I tend to disagree is that many people try to reduce the Bible to a single, monolithic, God-written textbook where God is considered to have literally written each and every word (this is called "verbal inspiration"). I disagree with this pretty stronly, mostly because there is no evidence of it.

    Also, you said:

    What is said in Revelations, for example, may or may not fit with the intentions of the author(s) of Deuteronomy, or the Gospels, or what have you.
    I would suggest that you take a look at Deuteronomy 4:2, and its cross-references in a good reference bible. Deut. 4:2 says, in part, "Do not go beyond what is written". I think there are enough incidents of this kind of language in the Bible that we can assume it is a general principle.

  • by jpatokal ( 96361 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:28AM (#1525111) Homepage
    So if the Kama sutra is for what you pleasing the wife, is the Diamond sutra what you need to read to get her to be your wife? :)

    A serious answer to a question posed in jest:

    No. The Kama Sutra is an overhyped antique version of The Joy of Sex, whereas the Diamond Sutra is one of the chapters of the Prajnaparamita ("Sutras of Transcendental Wisdom"), one of the most important works in the Mahayana canon. For example, Zen thought is largely based on the Prajnaparamita sutras, with the Diamond Sutra in a special role.

    The literal meaning of "sutra" is just "thread", essentially a recording of a line of thought, and not all that different from sutras on Slashdot. =)

    Cheers,
    -j.

  • If I wrote a book, and marked it as "universal free distribution", could someone make a copy it, then copyright their copy, and possibly sue me for infringment?

    To me, "universal free distribution" would seem like as loose a GPL as you can get. Basically, you are setting absolutely no limits on it's distribution.

    Actually, it's so loose it can't even be likened to the GPL. It's in the public domain, which means anyone can do any kind of derivitave work from it and copyright the results if they care to.


  • Hard to tell : there's a whole bunch of candidates.

    1> The Bible. Started as a Hebraic oral tradition so hard to date accurately.

    2> The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Babylonian favourite. Still as relevant today as then. You could make a film out of it.

    3> The I Ching. Dates back a long way: came
    to us in it's present form from the Duke of Chou.

    4> The Maharabrata must be pretty old. Again, began as an oral tradition.

    The fact that many ancient books begin as an
    oral tradition lost in the mists of .. etc, etc..
    makes accurate dating difficult, I guess.

    I'm sure there's more.

  • by MattXVI ( 82494 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:31AM (#1525118) Homepage
    It appears that the Bible has a more restrictive license. From the last few lines of the last chapter of the last book of the Neww Testament:

    I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. - Revelation 22:18-19

    Of course, there is no restriction at all on redistribution. :)

  • then is the Torah the first instance of quality control?

    when you make a copy of the Torah (which is older than the Diamond Sutra), you have to make an IDENTICAL copy, no changes what so ever.
  • With the dead sea scrolls I was quoting a page I saw on them. I can't defend the date, it may well be derived from the Essene (sp) settlement rather than from the text.

    You're probably right about the Epic of Gilgamesh, but I have not seen any evidence of a still-existing early copy. The story is probably much older than the Unas text, but I believe that the existing copies are younger. Virtually all of the Sumerian and Egyptian epics had their origins in very early times.

    I read the original post as "the oldest still existing," and qualified my answer as literary works. Lots of sumerian tablets are older than the unas text. It would be interesting to find out if Gilgamesh is among those we have preserved....
  • Somehow I suspect that making your own modifications to the Bible and redistributing it as a new and improved version would be frowned upon...


    Oops! -- Joseph Smith

  • I will note that my (intelligent, researched) response to the poster was marked as offtopice, but his post was not! Why? His is critical of Christianity, and mine defends it. This is a syndrome on /. -- people, get a clue.
  • While we're on (or off) this topic - Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Laureate has spent the last 15 years on a new translation of Beowulf. It is just recently in print and has had very good reviews.
  • "as Christians do not generally mean that they believe God picked up a pen and wrote out the Bible in KJV English when they say that the Bible is the "word of God.""

    I understand that. My point was not to point out what most Christians generally believe. I was merely stating that, IIRC, the only thing that God did write were the Ten Commandments. Him, Himself, with His hand. He didn't write the books that became the Bible.

    "It happens to be precisely what many Christians believe about the origin of the books of the Bible"

    Again, you read too much into what I write. I was not stating what many Christians believe.

    ..."interesting in how you "know" this."

    Going by what I've read of the Bible (almost all of it, though it's been a while), I do not remeber reading in every book where the author states something to the effect that, "God is speaking to me as I write this", or "By the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit do I write this" (though I agree that some books do have this). That was my point; that there is no evidence that all of the authors were so inspired. Thus, it takes faith for an individual to believe that all of the books of the Bible were inspired by God.

    Note the word `all'. It is crucial to my point.

    "Your unbelief hardly makes it a "fact that is readily verifiable.""

    "it [the Bible] is the word of many, many different humans"

    Tell me which part of that statement is false.

    all believed they were writing in accordance with God's will"

    Not a fact.

    "The Bible is not the word of God;"

    Ahhh, the clincher. This is a fact. If the AC would have said, The Bible is not the interpreted word of God, then I would agree with you.

    "But I'm boggled trying to imagine how I could prove that God didn't speak to John on the Isle of Patmos when he wrote down his vision."

    Does John say, "God spoke to me", or "Thus spoke God"?

    I am truly trying not to flame here. But I believe that to get at facts(what?) facts(what?) facts, one must remove what a group of people believes to be true. If you take all of my statements at face value, they are, in fact, well, facts.


  • I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. - Revelation 22:18-19

    Amuzingly, it reads slightly differently (and in many cases has a different verse number) in every version of the bible I've seen.

  • Leave them hyena's alone.

  • by Spasemunki ( 63473 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @12:02PM (#1525133) Homepage
    It is not at all uncommon to find things similar to the one described at the beginning of Buddhist scriptures and suttas. It was considered a meritotious act to distribute copies of the scriptures; in China and Japan, the rich would donate to the temples and monestaries to have a copy of a particular sutta(e.g the diamond) or a set of suttas (e.g the Digha Nikaya, or Long Discourse) published. It was even considered the duty of monks to expound the teachings to anyone who asked(notice that this includes "anyone who asks", not prostelytizing to the uninterested or followers of other religions). So there is really nothing all that odd about the inscription on the inside of this particular book. Anyone familiar with this tradition could probably tell you about it and probably better than I. I really fail to see what it has to do with the GPL; to be honest, if I didn't know better I would call this a crosspost from segfault. If you wanna know a bit more about the suttas, check out Access to Insight [accesstoinsight.org], or Dharmanet [dharmanet.org].

    PS- yes, I do know how to spell "sutra". It's Sanskrit, I use Pali. These things happen.
  • My point is - I AM OVER IT. I don't like everything, but I read what I like and discard the rest, only to stop and bitch at people who are bitching.

    You've obviously never had rob's job before.

    -Erik-
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wow, I NEVER imagined I'd read about the Asian Classic Input Project on Slashdot!

    Now THAT's "Open Source!"

    The project has people at several monasteries in South India currently inputting even more texts from the Tibetan canons, and in another forty or so years (at the current rate) ALL of the Tibetan texts which have been salvaged from Tibet (hand-carried by refugees), the Mongolian National Library, and the St. Petersburg Library in Russia will be available for free to anyone with a 'net connection and a browser.

    I'd ask if anyone has any spare IPO change handy, to contribute to this project. Currently there are several hundred Tibetan refugee women and children, plus the most troublesome and unruly monks from Sera Mey and Sera Je monasteries inputting this stuff. Their dirt-cheap wages for inputting these texts go to support their entire families and their monastic educations (which are phenomenal compared to Western educational standards), plus they're learning computer skills to boot.

    Just this past November my teacher (who's heading this project) gave the Dalai Lama a laptop with the full ACIP release on CD. This has already taken off in a big way with many other teachers, who now routinely use their computers to search up various references.

    This is about one of the most worthwhile projects in the history of humanity, if you want my unbiased opinion (full disclosure: I've been active on this project for some time, so no bias, nope, none :) ), so any extra help would be greatly appreciated. The URL is http://www.asianclassics.org

  • A book of sutras bound in naugahide.

    (drool)
  • > If I wrote a book, and marked it as "universal free distribution", could someone make a copy it, then copyright their copy, and possibly sue me for infringment?

    Something like that happeneng in Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers" trilogy. (An essential work, if you haven't read it, you need to. And it's not a trilogy, it's really a five part series.) The authors of "The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy" patterned a section of it after the nutrition facts label on a box of breakfast serial. Then they sent it back in time and sued the cereal company for infringement, thus winning the money to build their huge twin-tower corporate headquarters.

    Now whether or not someone can do this in real life without time travel, I don't know. I would date the book if I were you, just to be safe. They couldn't sue you if you could prove you wrote your copy before they did.
  • Is there a copy of this text somewhere in the public domain?

    Oh, lots of them. Here's one:

    http://www.io.com/~snewton/zen/diamndi x.html [io.com]

    Cheers,
    -j.

  • by grappler ( 14976 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:33AM (#1525141) Homepage
    GPL: You are encouraged to give copies to anyone and everyone. You are encouraged to make any changes you like, but you MUST make those changes available under the same terms.

    BSD: You are encouraged to give copies to anyone and everyone. You can make any changes you like, and you can use any license you like for said changes.

    Shareware: You are encouraged to give copies to anyone and everyone. DO NOT make any changes.

    Since this book promises eternal damnation and hellfire if you add, subtract, or alter anything in it, I would call it the world's first piece of shareware.

    --
    grappler
  • Actually, it's so loose it can't even be likened to the GPL. It's in the public domain, which means anyone can do any kind of derivitave work from it and copyright the results if they care to.

    In other words, it's BSD-licensed.

    This is truly hilarious; having a GPL vs. BSD argument over an 1100-year old book.

    Priceless.

    Steve 'Nephtes' Freeland | Okay, so maybe I'm a tiny itty

  • by kuperman ( 7726 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:37AM (#1525143) Homepage
    If you follow that link, you'll find that whoever took the photo of the book (The British Library Board), has slapped a 1997 copyright on it. This in itself brings up an interesting question.

    If I wrote a book, and marked it as "universal free distribution", could someone make a copy it, then copyright their copy, and possibly sue me for infringment?

    Actually, I think you are misunderstanding the copyright that is being applied. The information in the book, and the way that the information is being presented in the book is subject to the "universal free distribution" clause. The photographer/artist's picture of the book is in itself intellectual property, hence the copyright.

    IANAL, but it follows that you are using a copyrighted photograph (regardless of what the picture is) on your website without the owner's, then you are breaking the law. If you simply were taking the text from the photograph of a non-copyrighted book, and posting that up then you would not be violating the law (both from the "universal free distribution" clause and the expiry of the copyright itself).

    The board is claiming copyright of an image, not the book. (see later in the thread for postings about translations.)

  • Translation can easily become harder work than writing, and is certainly a creative endevour. It's not simply a matter of being hard, it does involve a lot beyond copying. A translation is a derivative work, not a copy. As such it requires the permission of the original author, if a valid copyright exists, but it is different from the original and as such embodies the creative labours of a translator.

    Saying a translation can't enjoy a separate copyright is like saying any derivative work, like a commentary, can't have a separate copyright. That makes no sense at all.
  • Back in the late 1950's a bunch of rebels who worshiped the Greek Goddess of Chaos, Eris, put out their manifesto...it was called the Principia Discordia, and you can see an electronic version of it at Fnord.org [fnord.org]. It's copyright means that you can reprint what you like...at tad bit more liberal than GPL...and it has been propagated by the Ancient Illuminati for thousands of years before this book. And it is endemic in the computer field too...ever wonder why telnet uses port 23? Why DNS and BIND are words that are also commonly used in the Bondage subculture? And why do computers do such a good job at running Chaos programs like Fractint? By consulting the Principia Discordia, you can find out why...and become illuminated yourself!

    Kallisti!
    Farrell

    p.s. I have no connection to Fnord.org, other than a religion.
  • The meaning of the text cannot change. You are just looking for loopholes. Thats just irritating. I didn't write the damn clause. Go pick up a copy of the bible for yourself.
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    So, not only did the Chinese have an early version of the GPL, they also had the fabled version 0.1 of the Slash code, too.
  • Most ancient uses of the swastika were used to represent the rotation of the stars about the pole star. Hitler reversed it, of course, to be annoying. Little fucker.

  • Well, this is getting more offtopic as we go.

    They should have thought about that before they stuck them together and made one book out of it. After all, they did have a few meetings, and did revise the books some, and didn't allow some of them in the finished work. So they should have caught that error, right?

    What error ? The statement is there to be interpreted. No "error".
    And the Bible was not stuck as one book per se, it was always clear from the beginning that it was a collection books, hence the word biblia meaning books.

    And you'd better consider if, by quoting that verse out of context, your immortal soul is at risk. It might be safer to just not quote the Bible, and especially don't translate it. You might be damned for your good works. I'm going to stick to Atheism, where it's safe.

    Heh ... I thought like that when I read that verse at the age of 10(11?). I have evolved from that since :)
  • Certainly Josephus brief mention of Christ in the Annals (although not by name) makes it hard to reject his existence outright.

    Except that the brief mention you cite exhibits evidence of being forged in later, not actually appearing in the original text. For one thing, the statement itself does not fit the 'speaking' style of the rest of the text.


    ...phil

  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:45AM (#1525159)
    Close, but no cigar. The idea is not to distribute a book freely, because that's what every editor tries to do: send the book to as many people as possible. It's not to give it for free, though that's a bit rarer.

    Rather, a true GPL'ed book would be... The Bible!

    Think about it: at first, there was only a couple of books. Then, a lot of people made contributions. A commity (the Vatican) decides what goes in and what doesn't go into a "kernel", or approved dogma. Then they release the new version. People are free to branch the Bible, and indeed, we've seen a few kernel forks over the years. The most important was probably the "Kernel fork 1", where the Old Testament ('Torah' release) and the Old/New Testament forked and formed two separate developper's groups. A few developpers (called apocryphs) saw their contribution cut from the codebase.

    Unfortunately, after the kernel fork, the source became closed and proprietary. There's been an attempt to rebuild the codebase by one Muhammed, but it was closed-source and a thousand years later, there's not even been a patch or a single Service Pack.

    Oh, did I mention there's also a distro war going on?

    "The wages of sin is death but so is the salary of virtue, and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays."

  • I don't care what you say about how much work it is to translate something. You didn't write it. Someone else wrote. Just cuz you translated it doesn't mean squat.

    Have you ever tried translating? Any real translation above Babelfish's level is not only lots of grunt work, but most definitely a creative endeavor as well. Not only do you have to preserve the meaning of the original, you have to make it sound good in the target language. This can be extremely difficult -- translating Joyce's Ulysses into Japanese took 15 years! And the Bible is even worse, as there are a number of conflicting originals with plenty of hapax legomena (words that occur exactly once and whose meaning is unknown) and similar pitfalls.

    So hell yes, if I work my butt off to translate soemething, I want my copyright on the translation. It should then be my decision whether I want to GPL the document or not.

    Cheers,
    -j.

  • The photographer/artist's picture of the book is in itself property, hence the copyright You see, while some people may find this perfectly fine, I'm one to wonder how this "I'm not copyrighting the work, I'm copyrighting my copy of the work" could be abused in the real world. Basically, are screenshots of copyrighted computer programs in themselves under the same copyright? If I took a photograph of a printed sheet of code, do I then own my photograph, with full rights of copyright? If I take a picture (or photocopy, of which there is no difference) a book, do I then own full rights to the picture? And even further, if I use a microphone connected to my computer to record a copyrighted song being played on the air, do I then have full rights to my recording? Do you see where the role of original copyright falls into play?
  • The mormons did that (ok, well, they made a whole new Book, same concept though).

    And the Bible has been changing and changing for a very long time now. After taking a Classics course (god what a waste of time) you can see just how things like old texts change. The KJ bible is close, but noone can say that it is a truly perfect translation of the original texts.
  • Many people feel that the Bible's exceptional unity (you try telling a story over two thousand years) is evidence of exceptional divine involvement in its creation. I tend to agree that this is the case.

    Why? There are some bits which get repeated. But presumably the later authors were sometimes just a bit familiar with what the previous ones had written, so maybe a hint of plagiarism crept in? At least subconsciously since they all believed roughly the same thing.
    And there are lots of bits that are different too.

    axolotl
  • Note, however, that Revelations was written much later than everything else in the Bible, and not by the same author(s). Don't make the mistake of thinking that the Bible is the result of a single, internally consistent effort. What is said in Revelations, for example, may or may not fit with the intentions of the author(s) of Deuteronomy, or the Gospels, or what have you.

    Most Christians, in my experience, are quite aware that the books we now bundle as "Scripture" were composed by various human authors, at various times, and consist of various styles and genres of writing. Even the fundamentalist literalist inerrantists understand this point. :^)

    [Which I've always thought had interesting implications for the "no tampering" clause at the end of Revelation. Is the scope supposed to be Revelation only, or the entire canon ... ?]

    The Bible is not the word of God; it is the word of many, many different humans, who all believed they were writing in accordance with God's will. Whether or not they were right is an article of faith.

    If it's such an article of faith, why do you state the negative as such a fact?

    I could be wrong, but I believe that most Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, agree that this is true.

    Agree that what is true? That the Bible had many different human writers? Sure, everybody knows and agrees on that point. That the Bible is not "the word of God"? I don't think so.

    While the exact relationship of "word of God" and "Scripture" is ... somewhat nuanced and open to debate amongst Christians (I know, I've been in some of those debates), in general, every Christian group accepts that the Bible (with some disputes over exactly which writings make it up) is authoritative in matters of faith and morals, and is generally accurate if not inerrant/infallible/whatever.

    Minor history lesson -- the Catholics did not formally define what books make up the Bible until the (post-Reformation) Council of Trent in 1546. There is no "official" Protestant list (how could there be, we're so bloody disorganized :^) but the general consensus is the list from Trent, minus the books of the "Deuterocanon/Apocrypha," for a total of 66 books. Trent was also well after the Great Schism of 1054, so it is not accepted by the Orthodox either, and I have no idea how they define the canon.

  • As a comparison, here's the "redistribution clause" from the Thelemic "Liber AL vel Legis [crl.com]", aka "Book of the Law", aka "Gospel according to St. Aleister":

    III:47. This book shall be translated into all tongues: but always with the original in the writing of the Beast; for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine ....

    Now that sounds a little bit more like the GPL: you've got to redistribute the original source when you port it.

    (FWIW: I'm not a Thelemite, but I play one on the Net occasionally.)
  • "Somehow I suspect that making your own modifications to the Bible and redistributing it as a new and improved version would be frowned upon..."

    Hmm, some say that Christianity and its denomination do this regularly. New testament and book of Morman and the various Apocrypha come to mind
  • This is all just a little too strange for me... but I like it!

    Time for another blunt, methinks
  • AFAIK, you are correct on this. IANAL, either, but had to bone up a little on copyright, when managing a University website.

    Copyright applies to any organised data, and is copyrighted by the person doing the organising. Thus, the photograph is copyright to the photographer, and the book to the author.

    (This is notwithstanding that the author has been dead over 50/70 years, and so copyright would have expired, even if the author had not GPLed it.)

    It also means that you would be on -very- shaky ground, if you were to take a photograph of the same book, under identical viewing conditions, with an identical camera, at an identical angle. My understanding is that that would be a breach of copyright, even though you did not technically copy the original photograph. Any other photograph, taken under any other condition, would almost certainly be a-ok.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    the GPL is not the beginning, nor the end of public domain/free access licensing of intellectual property
  • The contents of the Bible were ostensibly chosen from a variety of material in circulation in the fourth century (roughly 320 a.D. IIRC) at a coucil of bishops, shortly after Constantine converted to Christianity and theoretically abolish state religions in the Empire.

    The church as it existed then bore little resemblance to modern Catholicism or any other modern sect of Christianity - blaming the Catholics isn't very accurate.

    The story as I recall it is that no one could agree which books ought to be considered sacred, and which ought to be rejected. So, a whole bunch were left on a table in a closed room, and they figured God would remove those books that weren't right. Sometime later, the room was reopened and only some of the books were still on the table (the other ones being on the floor, I think) and that's how the New Testament was made.

    Yeah, I have a hard time believing the story too. Certainly its remarkable how the New Testament corresponded neatly with Constantine's own theology.

    But the New Testament is mostly internally consistent, and only mildly inconsistent with external information. Certainly Josephus brief mention of Christ in the Annals (although not by name) makes it hard to reject his existence outright.

    As for the rest, I have no desire to debate theology on /. Please consider this a disclaimer distancing myself from any arguments for or against the existence of God, the Virgin birth or the merits of Christianity, Catholocism or any other religion.
  • Well, it's not paper, but the oldest surviving copy of a literary text that I am aware of the pyramid texts from the tomb of Wenas (Unas) dated 2323BCE. On paper (papyrus) you can look at the Dead Sea scrolls (oldest are 200bc).
  • But I'm boggled trying to imagine how I could prove that God didn't speak to John on the Isle of Patmos when he wrote down his vision.

    Got any way to prove that God did speak to John on the Isle of Patmos?


    ...phil

  • Of course, by "this book", John means the book of Revelation, the one he was writting.
    The Bible didn't exists in John's time.

    This verse always get misinterpreted. :)
  • If he changed the text of Revalations he is. I am jewish and I can see this clearly! Why does every aspect of it need to be explained?
  • Somehow I suspect that making your own modifications to the Bible and redistributing it as a new and improved version would be frowned upon...

    Thomas Jefferson [angelfire.com] did it. He extractd the moral teachings from the various Gospels and discarded what he thought were the supernatural bits. His version never really caught on, though.
  • I fail to see how it is interesting that the world's oldest dated book was intended for free distribution.

    It would be interesting if it included a GPL-like license, but while the GPL includes a great deal of verbiage to prevent others from restricting the freedom of the work, this just says it was made for free distribution.

  • can we buy it on the Web? :)
    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • by deefer ( 82630 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:09AM (#1525212) Homepage
    So if the Kama sutra is for what you pleasing the wife, is the Diamond sutra what you need to read to get her to be your wife? :)
  • by Myddrin ( 54596 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:09AM (#1525214) Homepage
    I'm going to be a wet blanket and respond seriously to a funny post...

    It's origin is highly speculative. Some Buddhists believe that it (along with all other Sutras) where written during the lifetime of the Buddha and hidden by the King of the Nagas "until the world was ready." (Nagas are intelligent water-snakes.)

    Western scholars put the authorship of this and other sutra to around 2-400 years after the death of the Buddha (around 2,500+ years ago), and the location in Northern India.

    This type of "license" was common amongst Buddhist writting, and some books by modern monks are realeased with similar statements at the begining. (However, they have a big ol' copyright at the begining.)


    Note: I _am_ Buddhist (Tibetan Drikung Kagyu), and find the Diamond Sutra to be a powerful and beautiful statement of Buddhist belief.
  • And as an aside, the Diamond Sutra is also what the big bearded guy uses to make all the evil critters blow up in the Tsui Hark movie A Chinese Ghost Story.
  • Right, but it's still fun considering the fortuitous placement!

    No kidding about the common misinterpretation. It sort of reminds me of when I asked an old Southern Baptist neighbor of mine why she would want to use the original KJV since so much of the language is obscure and easily misunderstood. She replied "If King James English was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for me!"

  • >Somehow I suspect that making your own modifications to the Bible and redistributing it as a new and improved version would be frowned upon..

    i think i have to disagree with you here. how about the book of mormon? and the popularity of all those new-age, find jesus for yourself books like the power of living?

    even the most popular version of the bible today (king james) is only an interpretation of a translation of the original.

    LL
  • "If it's such an article of faith, why do you state the negative as such a fact?"

    Because, I presume, it is a fact.

    In the literal sense, the Bible is not the Word of God. God did not himself write it. God did not dictate all of the books to whomever wrote them.

    Since the books were written physically by humans, and these humans believed that they were writing in accordance with God's Will, and none of them are around today to ask about the subject, it follows that to beleve that the authors were led by God to pen those words requires faith.

    The above poster was simply stating a fact that is readily verifiable, as opposed to a fact that requires faith that the AC may not have (or want, for that matter).
  • I don't mean to start a flame war or anything, but there _are_ vast differences between the major religions. While they all seem to advocate similar behaviors, e.g. Don't be an *sshole. They reasons why you should follow that behaviour are very different (even amongst differing flavors of Christians ie Catholics=do good to go to Heaven, Calvinists=do good for the love of the Creator).

    I was raised Catholic myself and found Buddhism about the age of 14 or so (I was never confirmed in the Catholic Church). But off the top of my head here are the differences between Catholism and Buddhism.

    Catholic
    God
    Soul
    Hell Forever
    1 Life

    Buddhist
    No God(1)
    No Soul(2)
    Hell Temporary
    Reincarnation
    ------------------------------------
    (1) Buddhist are not required to believe in a God or gods (one of the big draws for me). We are explicitly told no to "take refuge" in God or gods.
    (2) Anatta (no soul) is one of the central tenets of Buddhism, it states that there is no part of "Me" that abides forever, "I" am a different collection of causes and conditions then I was when I started writing this sentence.

    I don't mean this as a flame or anthing, I just feel we should celebrate our diversity rather than force common ground.
  • This liscense is much more like the open content [opencontent.org] liscense than like the GPL. The colophon says that redistribution is allowed, but doesn't speak of modifications. Therefore, any modifications of his text would have to be distinguished from the original (which is how the open content liscense works), which is contrary to the GPL (which forbids authors from requiring credit be due to them or the distinguishing of derived content from the original content).

    Of course, after a eleven-hundred years, it's all public domain, although with the rate at which Disney and the late Rep. Sonny Bono were conspiring to extend the duration of copyrights, such an assumption might soon be invalid. ;)
  • how does GPL have to do with linux? I would assume that the Berkley distros of Unix would have more. GNUGPL existed before linux.
  • by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:14AM (#1525251)

    If you follow that link, you'll find that whoever took the photo of the book (The British Library Board), has slapped a 1997 copyright on it. This in itself brings up an interesting question.

    If I wrote a book, and marked it as "universal free distribution", could someone make a copy it, then copyright their copy, and possibly sue me for infringment?

    To me, "universal free distribution" would seem like as loose a GPL as you can get. Basically, you are setting absolutely no limits on it's distribution.

    So here come the brits (no offense), who reproduce Mr. Wang Jie's (if that's a female name, forgive me) work. And they copyright their work?

    Either way this could be good or bad. If you had some copyrighted software you wanted to use, you can just copy it, and copyright your copy.

    When it comes down to it, I honestly believe that the original copyright stands. Thus, the British Library Board's claim at copyright is invalid, and I can copy this picture and put it up on my homepage.

  • by Pathetic Coward ( 33033 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:16AM (#1525256)
    the author destroyed all copies of his previous book, "The Big Wu" ...

  • Clearly dogmatism still runs rampant in both camps (Buddhism and Christanity). Is ignorance dualistic?

    How was I being dogmatic? I don't understand...
    All I said was that there were differences between the religions, which is true. I didn't say Christians where damned to hell or any such thing.
  • There's a story in the Talmud ...

    (The Talmud is, umm, sort of like the 2,500-year-old archives of soc.culture.jewish, back when you had to be a rabbi to get on the Net.)

    As I was saying, there's a story in the Talmud about a little crisis the Jewish sages faced, when there were only three Torah scrolls left in the world. (A "Torah scroll" is a single scroll containing the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy, in the original Hebrew.) All three scrolls had slight variations in the text, and the sages had no way of knowing which variation was more likely to be correct. Since the sages believed that every word of the Torah is from God, and sometimes a single word had vast legal consequences, this was a problem.

    So they copied out a new scroll based on the other three, as follows: Whenever the old scrolls disagreed about a certain verse, the new scroll would follow the "majority opinion" of the old scrolls. After the transcription was complete, they declared the new scroll to be The Canonical Sacred Text, and the old scrolls were declared Unfit For Ritual Use.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:16AM (#1525279) Homepage
    Of course, the title is empty of any nature of its own, so maybe I shouldn't be making corrections... :')

    The Diamond Cutter Sutra is one of the main Buddhist teachings on Emptiness. You can get it in Tibetan, along with a lot of other Buddhist texts in Tibetan at The Asian Classics Input Project [asianclassics.org]. Yes, that's right, it's available on the web, and also in CD form. Ain't technology wonderful?

  • by Haven ( 34895 ) on Wednesday November 17, 1999 @08:18AM (#1525280) Homepage Journal
    No The Book of Revalations clearly states that any changes made will result in the changee's eternal damnation to hell.
  • sorry... what the first sentence should say is "How does something to do with the GPL automatically involve linux?"

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