MorphGNT busted by “copyright”

This is something that makes me rather cross.  It seems that the MorphGNT project, run for years and years by Jim Tauber, has fallen foul of a sudden claim of copyright by the German Bible Society.  This in turn has torpedoed the ReGreek site, which used MorphGNT. 

For those who don’t know, MorphGNT is a text file, containing the “Morphologised Greek New Testament”.  The file contains loads of rows like this:

010101 N- ----NSF- βίβλος βίβλος
010101 N- ----GSF- γενέσεως γένεσις
010101 N- ----GSM- Ἰησοῦ Ἰησοῦς
...

The first column is book/chapter/verse, the next one part of speech (all nouns here), the next specifies the tense, Nominative, Genitive, Singular, Feminine, Masculine, the fourth column the word that actually appears in the NT (in whatever form), and the fifth column is the headword or lemma — the dictionary form of the word.

There are updates on the Open Scriptures blog, linking to a discussion group where surrender seems to be the only option under consideration.  They should, instead, seek legal advice.

I confess that I don’t understand how the German Bible Society have any claim or rights over this.  How can they claim copyright over any of this?  Are they claiming that the NT is *their* copyright?  What is needed, I feel, is a good lawyer to tell them where to get off.  I’ve submitted this story to slashdot.org.  Anyone got any suggestions?

Thanks to Mark Goodacre for the tip.

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