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This answer linked to a publication that expressly forbids its public dissemination. In fact, it is a violation of the publisher's expressed intentions to copy this publication in any format including electronic formats.


page 2 of the book


When it is obvious that the poster is violating copyright (worse, as is this case, when the post only denigrates the reputation of the publishing entity), is it not the moderators duty to remove the link to honor the publisher's wishes and protect the reputation of Stack Exchange?

The web is certainly full of anti-JW sites that post all manner of material that is in violation of copyright and privacy laws. But that should not validate any SE participant's desire to violate copyright here.

What is Christianity.SE's specific policy or SE's general policy concerning copyrighted materials? Are links or their direct inclusion on this site permissible? If not, is it the Moderator's duty (or the duty of all participants) to edit the posts to remove such links with an appropriate explanation?

Related Meta question: Are questions asking for answers to divulge sacred and secret ceremonies acceptable?

  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/171488/… unless Congress changes the laws, in the USA at least, Stackoverflow Inc is not liable for the things its members post. Facebook, twitter, etc... wouldn't be sued for links to those things although I think they'd be apt to comply with lawyers requests for takedowns. – Peter Turner Dec 26 '17 at 15:22
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    Given that the link is (a) of dubious authenticity and (b) probably unstable, as the JW legal department will try to have it taken down, it's probably not a good idea to rely on it anyway. – TRiG Dec 27 '17 at 22:42
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I think it should be OK to post excerpts from almost any publication (except those you are honor-bound, contractually obligated or compelled by the government not to publish). Scifi has a similar policy when it comes to posting pictures of dubious origin from recently released motion pictures

But linking to obviously stolen material is like linking to ROMs on gaming.se. I'd like to see those posts flagged and deleted or edited.

In this case, I think the problem is that the existence of this on the Internet is offensive to JW's and it should be taken down, not because of a copyright violation, but out of compassion towards brother and sister Christians who find the scanning and posting of their documents to be intrinsically offensive.

Now, even if we edit out a link, it still exists in the history of the answer, so all we're doing by editing is a bandaid, but I think it's a sensible bandaid and it sends the right message to people who want to post things that others find offensive.

  • This is not an excerpt but a pdf of the entire book. This book cannot be accessed electronically even by persons approved to possess a hard copy of it. It has never been made available by the publisher in electronic format. – Kris Dec 26 '17 at 15:07
  • @kris, I agree with you, I think we should be taking out those links, I'm just waiting for a little bit of +1'age to put go ahead and do this. There are two sides to the argument, that if you follow and read the links Caleb sent you will lead to a completely different end. – Peter Turner Dec 26 '17 at 15:16
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    My main argument is that, as a community, do we want these to exist? IF we don't want them to exist, then we say they don't belong here then - poof they're gone (well it'll require some work and vigilance). Regardless of whether they're legal, they can always be removed. – Peter Turner Dec 26 '17 at 15:24
  • Perhaps there is a gray area when the publisher has made the content available on the Internet even in a limited way. But each place that one can find this book it is the result of a deliberate criminal act. – Kris Dec 26 '17 at 15:35
  • @Kris I think elders can actually download the book to JW Library now, but it's most likely not the 2010 edition still. – 4castle Dec 26 '17 at 18:51
  • I appreciate your understanding of the situation @PeterTurner. I think everyone wants answers to be both respectful and thorough in their content, but of course there are gray areas in finding that balance. As someone who has knowledge about JWs (it's my way of life), I can confirm that removing the link wouldn't affect the quality of the answer, since there are no "secret" doctrines in that book. In general, I think we should avoid linking to pirating sites anyway. – 4castle Dec 26 '17 at 19:02
  • @4castle yes recently the revised book has been available to elders for download. That is by means of secure login only. – Kris Dec 27 '17 at 6:01
  • "Now, even if we edit out a link, it still exists in the history of the answer" > moderators can remove revisions, so if you edit it out and remove the revisions, it is gone forever. @PeterTurner – Jham Jan 4 '18 at 14:14
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This site isn't in the business of censorship. As an academic site we are in the business of doing solid research in the field of the doctrine and practice of Christian denominations. While honouring publishers wishes is good in the neutral case, being able to cite and quote churches' resources trumps that if there are no other resources to go to.

That said, you cannot knowingly violate copyright law on this site. You can't copy wholesale documents you are not permitted to. Quotes should be concise and to the point, so that we don't violate the principle of fair use/fair dealing.

In any case, linking to material is not a copyright violation. Whether it is ethical/moral is up to the individual.

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    You don't need to link to a stolen copy of a publication in order to cite it. In the years before the internet, things were cited by giving information like title, author, and page number. We can still use that system in the event that linking to the publication is unethical. I have many answers where I've deliberately not linked to the publication because the publisher hasn't made it available online, but I know that people can easily verify the quote by using Google to access one of the pirated databases. – 4castle Dec 27 '17 at 4:06
  • As a non-JW wouldn't it be equally "unethical" for me to cite a paper copy seeing as I shouldn't be allowed to have access to it? If so, then there's no difference linking to a scan. – curiousdannii Dec 27 '17 at 6:09
  • You are allowed to have access to it. People can cite any publications they own, any publications at the Kingdom Hall library, and any publications on the CD that the publisher provides which goes back to 1950. I use the CD to do my research, and I write my citations in the format that the database program on the CD uses. – 4castle Dec 27 '17 at 14:45
  • There will always be unethical persons who get a thrill from making public what is meant to be private. The question is does this site want to enable these folks or not? – Kris Dec 27 '17 at 20:23

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