Scriptures as a Service (API for LDS Scriptures)

Discussions about the Notes and Journal tool on LDS.org. This includes the Study Toolbar as well as the scriptures and other content on LDS.org that is integrated with Notes and Journal.
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carljokl
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Postby carljokl » Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:36 am

Perhaps I should redefine the software boundery and say rather than a "Parser" the boundery would be perhaps a scripture data retrieval adapter which can be swapped out. I get the impression with the bulk of the emphasis being on getting the online scriptures available in more languages. I know something is being worked on but I think that this could be quite a while away (I could be wrong). In the mean time I think that it still might be worthwhile experimenting with some connectivity to the scriptures even if this invloves some messy parsing. The messy bits can be hidden behind a clean interface. After all retrieving the scriptural content is only one aspect of an application which uses the scriptures. Any classes defined for example could still be reusable in a system which retrieved Scriptures in a completely different way.

Having an interim solution could at least mean something is available to work with until a more ideal solution is available.

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Postby WelchTC » Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:12 am

But the real issue is not getting a scriptures API available but is how to protect copyright. So if the community where to develop such a tool, it would allow many people to grab the Scriptures without the Church being able to enforce copyright.

Tom

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carljokl
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Postby carljokl » Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:29 am

Could this not already be a copyright problem even with the existing system?

Someone can read the scriptures online as intended. They can also print the scriptures. Copy and paste the text for use in a handout or talk. I someone were to copy and paste from the scriptures as they stand and use the text in an unauthorised publication? How would the Church know about it? You could use perhaps JavaScript to monitor copy and paste events maybe but you would have no idea who was copy and pasting for legitimate purposes and who is not? How is the Church able to enforce control on the scriptures even as they stand? They are currently openly available through the internet without requirement for anyone to authenticate with the Church's website to access the scriptures.

I am not trying to criticise but am not clear on how the current system provides copyright protection. All it does is display the copyright information in the lower left corner. Users are not forced to agree to any kind of disclaimer before proceeding to the scriptures. Tools exist today for ripping the content from a website. I don't know that there are any measures in use in the online scriptures to prevent this at least that I am aware of.

I don't see the current scriptures are able to enforce copywright protection.

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Postby mkmurray » Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:27 am

This is a good question. And a good follow up question would be this:

If the current copyright system is indeed sufficient (in all legal senses), then shouldn't there be a way to add something similar to the proposed Scripture API service as well?

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Postby RossEvans » Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:50 am

There are a variety of ways to enforce intellectual property rights in an API, none of them foolproof.

One layer is legal. In addition to the general protections of copyright law, the API can carry with it a Terms of Use document in which the user covenants to honor the copyright and preserve all copyright notices embedded in the output.

All the enforcement mechanisms do not have to rely on litigation; they can be technical. If it is the the Church's API, the Church can require registration for the user and issue each user a unique API key that becomes part of each client-server transaction. Then, if the Church discovers abuse, it can simply disable the API key.

That general framework is how the big online services such as Google and Yahoo operate their public APIs.

Of course, there is an underlying problem of discovering abuse, but that problem obtains in almost any situation in which machine-readable data is available.

Addendum: If the API users are members of the Church, I doubt that any litigation would ever be necessary anyway. They likely would respect requests from Salt Lake to desist from violations.

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Postby mkmurray » Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:52 am

boomerbubba wrote:All the enforcement mechanisms do not have to rely on litigation; they can be technical. If it is the the Church's API, the Church can require registration for the user and issue each user a unique API key that becomes part of each client-server transaction. Then, if the Church discovers abuse, it can simply disable the API key.

Yes, how could I forget? That is how the big guys do it.

In addition, if the Church needed to track the use of the API, during registration they could ask for a domain that will be using the API key. Then when a request using that API key comes in, the domain the request is coming from could be checked against the registered one.

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Postby WelchTC » Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:44 am

Carl Jokl wrote:Could this not already be a copyright problem even with the existing system?

Someone can read the scriptures online as intended. They can also print the scriptures. Copy and paste the text for use in a handout or talk. I someone were to copy and paste from the scriptures as they stand and use the text in an unauthorised publication? How would the Church know about it? You could use perhaps JavaScript to monitor copy and paste events maybe but you would have no idea who was copy and pasting for legitimate purposes and who is not? How is the Church able to enforce control on the scriptures even as they stand? They are currently openly available through the internet without requirement for anyone to authenticate with the Church's website to access the scriptures.

I am not trying to criticise but am not clear on how the current system provides copyright protection. All it does is display the copyright information in the lower left corner. Users are not forced to agree to any kind of disclaimer before proceeding to the scriptures. Tools exist today for ripping the content from a website. I don't know that there are any measures in use in the online scriptures to prevent this at least that I am aware of.

I don't see the current scriptures are able to enforce copywright protection.


I'm no lawyer but as I understand it, the web pages are like a book. A book that is published could easily be photocopied and re-distributed but that would be in violation of the copyright on the book which prohibits that behavior. Similarly, the online scriptures have copyrights on them and are geared for people to consume individually. If a person copies a portion and uses it in a talk, no problem. If a person screen-scrapes it and creates a derivative work and sells or distributes that work, we have a problem. So with the API comes how do we ensure that those applications consuming the content are properly re-displaying the copyright information from the Church? This is not a hard technical question but more of a "process" question. If we had people doing nothing but figuring this out, it would not take long. But because this issue is just one of many the legal department is working on, it gets a little bit of time every once in a while.

Tom

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Postby WelchTC » Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:47 am

mkmurray wrote:This is a good question. And a good follow up question would be this:

If the current copyright system is indeed sufficient (in all legal senses), then shouldn't there be a way to add something similar to the proposed Scripture API service as well?

The current system is not insufficient because each page as has a copyright notice at the bottom. The real question is that once you have an API, how do you make sure that those program using the API also display the copyright information to their customers so that the copyright is protected.

Tom

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Postby carljokl » Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:19 am

Displaying a copyright notice is possible, even in more obsure scenarios like Second Life. I would think that as part of the requirement to use a Scripture API would be a formal agreement to display the copyright notice and perhaps Also the Church could inspect that this is being done to their satisfaction on any party signed up to use the API. I think the whole idea of securing the service is a good way of doing things. I don't know the Church would feel too bad if they know exactly who is using their service and what for, also reserving the right to inspect that the terms of use are being adhered to.

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Postby kennethjorgensen » Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:46 am

Carl Jokl wrote:Displaying a copyright notice is possible, even in more obsure scenarios like Second Life. I would think that as part of the requirement to use a Scripture API would be a formal agreement to display the copyright notice and perhaps Also the Church could inspect that this is being done to their satisfaction on any party signed up to use the API. I think the whole idea of securing the service is a good way of doing things. I don't know the Church would feel too bad if they know exactly who is using their service and what for, also reserving the right to inspect that the terms of use are being adhered to.


I remember a company who did this and to start with loads of people signed up and they used far too much time inspecting sites that didnt even use it until someone came up with the idea of having a test mode returning a notice together with the data passed (could be "1.Nephi 3:7") so once the code was in place and it was nearly up and running first then would the company inspect and enable their full license when they were satisfied everything was fine.


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