For many years now I’ve watched debates on sharia and copyright—and specifically copyright on works of `ilm al-din—go round and round with very little new progress made. This is, I suppose merely reflective of the same ground reality of near-universal disregard of copyright which shapes the general debate.

But what’s surprising is that some of what seems to draw the most ire from those in favor of protecting content creators’ investments is the habit—especially in the Arab world— of “unscrupulous” publishers reprinting the texts of critical editions prepared at great expense. We’ll ignore the fact that many critical editions are actually masters and doctoral theses. The simple, plain truth is that a critical edition of a public domain work (and it would be extremely rare to find a critical edition of a non-public domain work) is not a copyrightable work in itself. Frontmatter, footnotes and so on will be subject to copyright, but the text itself is merely a reproduction of something already free to all—no matter how much effort and cost was expended in preparing it. I suspect that even those footnotes which point out variations between manuscripts are also part of the public domain as they constitute facts, and one can not copyright a list of facts. Yes, a pdf of a scanned copy of a critical edition is probably a copyright violation, but printing a separate edition based on the text prepared by the editor should be perfectly legal. And unless the proponents of shar`i copyright—which in my opinion has no leg to stand on aside from local law—are willing to contend that the sharia’s protection of creator effort and intellectual property extends beyond what the relevant statutes and treaties require, it must be ceded that this action is entirely permissible.

The Dawat-e Islami IT team has done something incredible in putting together their Fatawa Rizwiyya Sharif application. Unfortunately, this team seems to be an all Microsoft shop. We’ll make dua for them on that.

Meanwhile, there seems to have been a slight oversight in releasing the software. Insha’ Allah we can get them to devote a few minutes of tawajjuh to this and rebuild the executable they distribute.

The problem is this: the app depends on [something related to] the Jet DB Engine, which is not only deprecated, but does not run natively under 64 bit versions of Windows. This does not mean that the software cannot run under 64-bit OSes, but rather the OS needs to know to run it app as a 32-bit app. Unfortunately Visual Studio compiles apps by default as platform agnostic, and 64-bit users receive an error. IIRC the error is something like “Microsoft.Jet.OleDb.4.0 provider is not registered on the local machine.”

While we wait for a fixed version, there is a fix you can perform locally. To change the 32-bit execution flag, just run:

CoreFlags.exe FatawaeRazaviya.exe /32BIT+

(Determining the full path for each of these executables is left as an exercise for the reader.)

CoreFlags is a part of the .NET SDK. If this is not already installed, download the latest version of the installer. (You can use the “for Windows 7” version on Vista – and it will probably correspond to the version of .NET you have installed.) In the installer, you only need to check: Developer Tools > Windows Development Tools > .NET Development Tools.

sdk_install

After changing this one flag, the app will work beautifully, assuming you have taken the necessary language setup steps.

Allah reward Ala Hazrat رضی اللہ عنہ and Hazrat Maulana Ilyas Qadiri and all of those working for Dawat-e Islami, and especially the programmers and ulama who have taken part in this effort a thousand times for every click of every user, and 100,000 times for every time someone acts on a point learned from a work prepared or question answered using this software.

I’m not really a Windows or .NET person, so if I’ve made any mistake in my explanation, forgive me and correct me.

So the last post caught Habib Haddad of Yamli’s attention. Which brought his twitter feed to my attention. Which led me to this article from Flip Media. Which led me to realize that in addition to two other yamli competitors, Google already has their own ta3reeb. I still love yamli – and their search component is as great as the keyboard aspect. Still I’d love to spark some competition between them for inclusion of characters from other Arabic-based scripts and some of the presentation forms.

Now, about the competitors: Read the rest of this entry »

Yamli is an Arabic frontend to Google (I believe I’ve mentioned it before) which deserves to win all kinds of awards. (Click to skip over verbosity to the howto.) They use a Google suggest-like interface to convert phonetically typed words and phrases to Arabic script. It’s perfect for on the fly typing of short passages on machines where setting up an Arabic keyboard mapping or switching is just not worth it. It is very similar in operation to the Indic scripts gadget which has slowly propagated across Google’s properties, and was recently added to the Gmail editor. Read the rest of this entry »

Google Translate now includes Hindi-English and English-Hindi. It works as well as machine translation is likely to. If using short phrases, make sure to use punctuation. That seems to prevent it from treating the phrase as a clause. You can use the Indic transliteration tool if typing is tedious or you’re not a frequent Indic script typist. There used to be some online Urdu-Hindi transliteration tools out there, but I can’t find them. Combined you could have Urdu to English machine translation, I suppose.

One cool thing is that Hindi pages turning up in Google results now have “Translate this page” links. For example, the Google translated front page of BBC Hindi. Not bad at all, though this leaves me wondering about the viability of my Urdu to English hack:

A British study found that people of Indian origin in a particular gene क़िस्म because of obesity is likely to be more …
+ Declining not डाइटिंग of obesity

“क़िस्म ” is just the Hindi transliteration of Urdu “قسم” meaning type. The Google typing tool doesn’t seem to have a way to get the letters with dots used to represent qaf, fa, etc. in Hindi, so maybe Google just plain doesn’t recognize them.

The other untranslated word there (“डाइटिंग”) is also a transliteration, this time of the English word “dieting.” The original sentence was “Obesity not reduced by dieting.”

All in all, good fun with maybe an occasional practical use. I could recommend what I did with the BBC page there as a useful way for future NYT Delhi bureau chiefs (who cover everything from Dhaka to Peshawar and Kashmir to Kanyakumari) as a way of supplementing their usual diet of scanning the headlines of the Hindu and Indian Express and calling up Sonia to ask “what’s up?” Of course, don’t do it with the BBC site. (Although the BBC editors could really use some automated Urdu to English translation to examine some of the sketchy stuff that makes it onto their Urdu site. For some reason the Urdu one seems to be the only one I check regularly with original reporting which occasionally differs radically from what I imagine the BBC’s official policy to be. I think I’ve covered this before.)

Noticed via Pravin Satpute’s blog.

Hunzakuts Rejoice!

May 5, 2008

The Unicoders are looking out for you. You even got first mention in “Other Changes,” and all sorts of excitement around your BAREE YEH. (I had to emulate the caps thing, but YEH BAREE is just too weird, even for me.)

Of more general interest (if you can call it that:)

Chapter 8: Middle Eastern Scripts
Arabic

A number of Arabic character were added in Version 5.1 in support of minority languages, four Quranic Arabic characters were added, and the Arabic math repertoire was greatly extended. Sixteen characters were added in support of the Khowar, Torwali, and Burushaski languages spoken primarily in Pakistan, and a set of eight Arabic characters were added in support of Persian and Azerbaijani. The 27 newly added Arabic math characters include arrows, mathematical operators and letterlike symbols.

Chapter 9: South Asian Scripts-I
Indic

A number of useful characters were added to Indic scripts. The Devanagari candra-a, Gurmukhi udaat and yakash, and additional Oriya, Tamil, and Telugu characters were added. These new characters expand the support of Sanskrit in those scripts, further the support of minority languages, and encode old fraction and number systems.

Burushaski speakers celebrating the release of v. 5.1.0 of the Unicode Standard.

(There are some amazing pictures in this CC-licensed photo set by Janice Lane. Some of them would have made for much better jokes, but it’s not nice to make fun of people. And I really wanted to use this incredible photo, but I try to be a copyright goody-two-shoes, and I’m too lazy to write. And seriously, Hunza is a beautiful place, and if anyone wants to teach me Burushaski, I’m ready. And thanks to Unicode we’ll be able to do it over email or IM.)

In December 2007, Unicode (UTF-8 specifically, according to the chart), US ASCII, and Western European encodings all converged in popularity, with each claiming about a quarter of the web. About half of the remaining quarter was in Chinese and Japanese encodings, with the last eighth unspecified. The Western European encodings appear to be gently fading away from a peak in 2006, and ASCII continues on a precipitous descent from the days of the ASCII-only web (and everything else.) Unicode is chugging away, roughly doubling its share every year.

Source: Official Google Blog: Moving to Unicode 5.1