Sefaria and Urim Publications Strike Unprecedented Agreement
Sefaria is building a free, living library of Jewish texts and their interconnections. Our scope is Torah in the broadest sense, from Tanakh to Talmud to Zohar to modern texts and all the volumes of commentary in between. We are inspired by the biblical affirmation (Deuteronomy 33:4) that the Torah is the rightful inheritance of the entire Jewish people — and we’re obsessed with imagining new ways for diffusing Jewish knowledge in the digital age. As part of this commitment we provide texts in both Hebrew and translation (English, for now). We have imported public domain translations, and allowed users to create crowd-sourced translations, but that’s not the only avenue we have been pursuing. We are also actively working with authors and publishers to release texts from copyright restrictions, making them free for use and reuse via Sefaria.
Today Sefaria is pleased to announce a first-of-it’s-kind deal. Urim Publications has agreed to release one of their books from copyright restrictions via the Creative Commons CC0 license (making it free for use and reuse in any way). Urim has released Mikraot Gedolot Hachut Hameshulash by Eliyahu Munk under the CC0 license, and the content is already being added to the Sefaria website. The book contains English translations of major Torah commentaries written by four medieval rabbis: Seforno, Rashbam, Radak, and Rabeinu Chananel, all expertly rendered by Eliyahu Munk.
The Sefaria team has been in touch with several intellectual property experts and as far as any of them know, this is the first time a copyright owner has released a book from restrictive use in exchange for payment from a third party.
We here at Sefaria are thrilled to be that third party, and we think this demonstrates one of our core tenets. Sefaria is not in business for itself. We did not buy the rights to this book for our website. We are a non-profit dedicated to making Jewish education possible in new ways, so we have made sure that as many people as possible can explore and study these important commentaries.
Sefaria is proud to be facilitating Torah’s digital future. We are digitizing texts in a machine-readable way, creating open source, flexible, technology, and ensuring that everything produced through the generosity of our donors belongs to the public and can be freely used and re-used. But our dreams for Torah in a digital age are bigger than ourselves, and we can’t do this work alone. So everyone is welcome to copy our texts, use them in a source sheet, or create a new app using our API. We can’t wait to see what you dream up.
Urim has likewise demonstrated a commitment to making these writings, from some of Judaism’s greatest sages, more available and accessible to the public. They have sailed into uncharted territory by making one of their books available via a CC0 license. Their willingness to join us in this venture speaks to their desire to create new ways to access classical Jewish literature and wisdom.