Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This page explains the most frequent questions visitors have about this site, in no particular order.
There are also separate FAQs for the CD/DVD-ROM and the Tarot:
Please read this carefully as there will be a quiz afterwards.
Q: What is sacred-texts.com?
A: This site strives to produce the best possible transcriptions of public domain texts on the subject of religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric. The texts are posted for free access on the Internet. This site is like a public library: it is accessible to anyone, contains unfiltered information, and does not advocate any particular point of view. However, nobody is going to shush you if you make too much noise while using this site.
Q: Who are you and what qualifies you to do this?
A: My name is John B. Hare, and I live in California. My academic background is in Linguistics, Anthropology and Computer Science, and I worked in the high technology field as a computer programmer and entrepreneur for twenty five years prior to starting this site.
Q: Why did you do it?
A: To do something nice for people.
Q: Will you link to my site?
A: Sorry, but no. The site isn't about links, it's about texts.
Q: Can I use stuff from this site?
A: Sure. Most of the site is not copyrighted. Some parts of the site are copyrighted. Please don't copy those parts. Everything else, you can use for anything you can dream up.
Q: Did you write all this stuff?
A: No. Most of it was written by dead people, a long time ago.
Some take the name of the site a bit too literally. This leads to numerous misconceptions:
Q: Book X isn't at your site. Does that mean it is not a sacred text?
A: No. It may not be public domain, or we may not have got around to posting it. But omitting it from the site doesn't imply that we don't think it is or isn't a sacred-text.
Q: Book X is at your site. Does that mean that it is a sacred text?
A: No. Not everything at this site is a sacred text in the strict sense.
Q: But what do you believe?
A: The site isn't about me, it's about the texts.
Q: I want you to promote my book/website/guru.
A: Sorry. That is not our mission.
Q: Can I advertise at this website?
A: Sure, go to Google, and sign up for the Google AdWords program. Google AdWords is the only way to place an advertisement at the site. IMPORTANT: If you have any questions about Google AdWords, please direct those to Google's support staff, not this site.
Q: I want you to place a text ad at your site, but don't want to use Google's AdWords, can't you make an exception.
A: Sorry. Sign up for the Google AdWords program if you want to advertise at this site.
Q: What are appropriate things to email sacred-texts about?
A: Please be considerate as we get a lot of email. Here are some examples:
Locations of typos, broken links, or bugs in scripts (be sure to specify the URL).
Suggestions for new public domain texts to post or topics to cover.
Factual errors on index pages.
General questions about the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.
Technical support issues about the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.
Questions about the status of an order or shipment for the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM and other sales related email.
Volunteering to scan or proof texts.
Requests to remove or alter a text if you own the copyright.
Questions already answered in this FAQ.
Questions about personal problems, spiritual advice, etc.
Requests to post copyrighted texts if you are not the copyright holder.
Requests to remove, censor or alter texts.
Requests for rights clearance of public domain material.
Questions about spiritual, esoteric, legal or medical issues of any kind.
Requests to translate Latin, Sumerian, Sanskrit, etc.
Book, artifact, or jewelry appraisals.
Help with homework or research questions.
Requests for link exchanges.
Theories of everything (unless you're Stephen Hawking!).
Abusive email: rants, trolling, flaming, griefing, scams, etc.
Q: How do you determine the public domain status of a book?
Year of publication:
PUBLISHED OUTSIDE US
PUBLISHED IN US
Before January 1st, 1923
Between 1923 and 1963, inclusive
NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN
PUBLIC DOMAIN if the copyright was not renewed in a timely fashion.
NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN
NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN
Anything published by the US Government Printing Office is also public domain in the US, regardless of the year of publication.
This is based on US Copyright law, since we are physically located in the US. We need some very compelling reasons to post anything outside of these parameters.
Q: How can I volunteer to help build the site?
A: Click on 'Volunteer' in the left hand menu on this page.
Q: I have a text to submit to the site, what file format do you want?
A: Anything but PDF! The file has to be converted into HTML to be posted at the site, and so it needs to be something that Microsoft Word can read: RTF, DOC, TXT, etc. PDF files can't be converted into HTML easily.
Q: Can I link to this website?
A: Sure, you have my permission.
Q: Why won't you exchange links with my website?
A: We do add links to other sites occasionally but that is usually because they have a mission and content which is similar to this site, or have helped us in some fashion. Usually these show up on our radar long before anyone contacts us about them. And those sites are very rare.
Q: Can you add a link to X?
A: This site is preponderantly about content rather than links. We would rather add a whole etext than one link. For one thing, links are hard to maintain. There was a link at this site which we added in attribution to the contributor of an etext; a year later the domain expired and was taken over by a porn operator. We didn't know that until an attentive reader emailed us, and of course we took the link down quickly. We are reluctant to add links casually.
Q: Do I have to pay you to use the public domain material from your website at mine?
Q: Can I use the public domain material from your site in my book?
A: You have my permission.
Q: I want to pay you a reasonable fee for commercial use of material from the site even though I'm aware that the content is in the public domain.
A: Thanks! Please contact us for licensing information. We can provide high resolution images and master files in most cases.
Q: My publisher wants you to clear the copyright on public domain material from your site which I've quoted in my book.
A: Sorry, we have no legal authority to do this because the copyright has expired and we did not own it even when it was in force. If you need a legal opinion on the copyright status of a work please ask a copyright lawyer.
Q: I'm looking for a particular book.
A: See the books page (click on 'Books' in the left hand menu on this page).
Q: Please add Urantia, Course in Miracles, Scientology, the Unification Church, Soka Gakkai, The Church of Satan, the Kolbrin, etc.
A: Sorry. We can't because the copyrights for these texts haven't expired yet by our copyright policy (see the COPYRIGHT POLICY chart above). It doesn't mean we don't respect these belief systems, just that we would get in big legal trouble if we added their texts. However, if you are the copyright holder of one of these books, and want it published at sacred-texts for free distribution on the Internet, please contact us, principals only (i.e., don't make such a proposal if you are not the copyright holder or their representative).
Q: Please add the Gospel of Judas, the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Qumran texts, etc.
A: No public domain translation of any of these texts exists, as far as we know.
Q: But you cover Neo-Paganism, isn't that recent?
A: This is a bit different. Even though Neo-Paganism itself is comparatively recent (post-World War II), it emerged from historical belief systems. There are numerous books in the public domain about these belief systems, as can be seen on the Neo-Paganism page. Furthermore, there is no centralized institution which runs Neo-Paganism, and numerous individual Neo-Pagans have shown a willingness to release their copyrighted documents for free electronic redistribution, as can be seen in the Internet Book of Shadows. This is in contrast to the Urantia Foundation and Scientology, which have vigorously used copyright lawsuits to attempt to restrict or control electronic redistribution of their materials. This is not a value judgment about Urantia or Scientology, simply a statement of fact.
Funny story actually.... I was actually contacted by a very testy lawyer from the Scientologists at one point. She was more than a bit bothered that I refused to post anything about them, until I pointed out that they had sued everyone aggressively for posting proprietary material about them for years, and now they expected me to cover them? She finally admitted that I had a point there...
Q: Why all the short files? I want to download the entire book in one file!
A: Sorry. The short files are for technical reasons which greatly reduce the cost of hosting the site. Newer books typically have a one-file text-only version, which is optimized for screen reader software. Look for the links on the index pages that say 'Text' [Zipped]
Q: Examples of what material at the site is not in the public domain?
Q: I want the entire site translated.
A: The site is so massive, it is impractical to do so. You can machine-translate the site online using any babelfish service. (click on 'Translate' in the left hand menu on this page)
Q: What is B.C.E. and C.E.?
A: Before Common Era and Common Era. These are the same as B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini'Year of our Lord' in Latin). Since the purpose of this site is to serve readers of all religions I have adopted this terminology because not everyone uses the birth of Christ as a reference point. The dates correspond to the civil calendar used by most Western countries. However, where B.C. and A.D. occur in scanned texts, I have not altered them.
Q: Why only ten volumes of the Talmud?
A: This was as much as the translator (Rodkinson) was able to publish prior to 1923 (or ever). The first complete English translation was not published until 1930 in London, which puts it off-limits in terms of our copyright policy.
Q: If you are having trouble hosting the site, why not use a free hosting service?
A: They would have to pay the same amount to host these files, so that wouldn't solve anything.
Q: Why not get grants to fund the site?
A: That would be incompatible with our tax status.
Q: Why not distribute the site solely through bittorrent?
A: The site is meant to be accessible to everyone with a web browser. Downloading, installing, and fine-tuning bittorrent is beyond the capability of the casual Internet users who are the vast majority of this site's audience.
Q: Do you have any banners I can use?
A: Sure, there are two banners you can download from the following URLs to put at your site: http://www.sacred-texts.com/stban.gif and http://www.sacred-texts.com/stauxban.gif.
Q: Someone is selling the Internet Book of Shadows on EBay.
A: This was a bit of a problem until I posted the entire IBOS in a zip file. It still occurs, and there is still little that can be done about it.
Q: Where is the Jewish Publication Society Bible?
A: We are redoing the text which was previously posted, for legal reasons. Each book will be posted as it is complete at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/jps/index.htm. It will also be incorporated into the Tanach (Hebrew Bible) section when complete.
Q: Can you post book X so I can read it before midterms?
A: Sorry, I can't guarantee the date I'll post any specific book. Normally I have a very long queue of items to scan and proof, so if you ask me today, it could be months or years before it actually appears at the site.
Q: I thought there was a copyright exemption for religious texts, why so picky about copyrights?
A: That's an urban legend.
Q: Why don't you post [some text]. Of course it is in the public domain, it can be found posted all over the web!
A: That means nothing. People pirate copyrighted material on the web all the time. If you see a text elsewhere on the Internet, even if the site claims that it is in the public domain, that is no indication as to its actual copyright status.
Q: Why are you publishing Masonic secrets?
A: All text at this site in the Freemasonry section is from public domain books, most of which have been in print for over a century. For instance, my copy of Duncan's Ritual was purchased off-the-shelf at a large chain bookstore. So these are hardly secret anymore, and hence it makes no sense to blame this site for publishing these texts.
Q: Why are you publishing tribal secrets?
A: All of these books have been sitting on library shelves for, in most cases, over a century.
Q: Will the world end in 2012?
A: Probably not.
Q: What about the quiz?
A: There is no quiz. Nor is there any cake.