It is important to note that according to the US definition of "public domain" Mr Austin-Sparks' works are NOT in the public domain.
Theodore Austin-Sparks was a British citizen and lived in England until his death in 1971. Consequently, all of his messages, including his unpublished manuscripts, are protected under British law where copyright is immediate and automatic regardless of whether the work was ever published or not. However, based on his actions and statements, T. Austin-Sparks appears to have waived his copyright and did not want commercial exploitation of his writings. He wanted his messages to be freely and widely available. In spite of this, Mr Austin-Sparks was careful to ask that nobody change his writings but reproduce them word for word, thus maintaining and upholding his moral rights as an author. This means that even if his messages are not subject to copyright, they may not be edited or changed.
Moral rights protect the attribution of literary work to an author and also serve to protect the integrity of the work from any alteration, deletion or addition of words. Many people assume that if copyright is waived, it means that they can freely edit and change the work. However, because of moral rights, nobody may make changes to an author's work unless the moral rights have been waived.
According to the Berne Convention, everything that a person writes is automatically copyright, even without an explicit copyright notice. Copyright registration was necessary in the USA until that country acceded to the Berne Convention in 1989. The Berne Convention requires that the moral rights of authors be separate from economic rights (copyright) and these moral rights remain with the author even if they have transferred or waived their economic rights (see Article 6bis of the Berne Convention: http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/trtdocs_wo001.html#P123_20726). Under UK law (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988), it is not possible to extinguish copyright, but the rights may be waived or assigned to other parties. Moral rights and copyright are valid for 70 years after the author's death.
Normally it is the job of editors and publishers to edit messages before they publish them and, from an earthly perspective, we understand why some might see the need to do this with T. Austin-Sparks messages. A personal friend of Mr Austin-Sparks told us of a colleague of his who worked with T. Austin-Sparks as an editor for only a month or two before "he became totally frustrated with the 'verbatim' element and dropped out of that work".
Mr Austin-Sparks was adamant that his messages be reproduced word for word as he originally spoke them or wrote them, retaining his moral rights. Morally and spiritually, we encourage people to respect his request and maintain the integrity of his messages. There are instances where people publishing the works of T. Austin-Sparks have made changes to what he wrote: deleting words, adding to what he said, and changing his wording. We are personally committed to upholding his moral rights and honouring his wishes. We endeavour to publish his messages word for word on this website, without changing them. Where we have discovered that messages given to us have been edited and changed, we have removed these from the website and corrected them, returning them to their original "verbatim" form.Our "editing" on the website consists only of correcting punctuation and misspelled words, translating Roman numerals (some people can't read them), breaking long paragraphs or sentences into more than one, and on rare occasions inserting small words if they are obviously missing (such as "the", "and", "in", "is"). If a word is not clear in the original and we have to guess, we put these words in [square] brackets so it is clear that it is an addition by us. Some more recent publications are in American English, but where the original was in British English, the British form of spelling and punctuation is retained. We were told that the family of Mr Austin-Sparks wished his messages to retain their British spelling.
The distribution of Mr Austin-Sparks messages was facilitated by a Trust that operated during his lifetime and for a period after his death. His son-in law, Mr Angus Kinnear (now deceased), was the Chairperson of the Trust that published T. Austin-Sparks works both during and after his lifetime. Mr Kinnear clarified in a paper dated 1995 that the trustees viewed the works of T. Austin-Sparks as "...of spiritual value but no commercial value" and that "The Editor [TAS] made no provision for copyright or authors’ royalties, the enterprise being seen as a service to the Church at large". This reflects the stated testimony of T. Austin-Sparks that his works not be copyrighted or exploited for commercial or monetary profit.
Mr Kinnear also noted the following in his paper regarding the reprinting and translation of T. Austin-Sparks works: “Private reprinting and translation of titles by others has generally been viewed with favour by the trustees (and earlier by Mrs. Austin-Sparks), who despite absence of copyrights, have usually been approached as a courtesy in such matters.”
In the 1963 July-August edition of his magazine, Mr Austin-Sparks wrote:
Where we have felt we could do so we have granted, on request, permission to reproduce messages in other magazines. But we have come up against a difficulty, and are finding ourselves being seriously misunderstood by some of our friends. The messages have been embodied in magazines which have a particular 'ism' which is of doubtful rightness, and sometimes, harmful influence. We just want to say to all of our readers that while those who use these messages usually do so in sincerity and because they feel their spiritual value, it must not be concluded that we accept the particular teaching which these dear people propagate. In some cases we would strongly repudiate the interpretation. In some cases we have had to request that our name should not be associated with their teaching.
This website was initiated in 2001 after we received copies of books by T. Austin-Sparks from Emmanuel Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Believing them to be copyright free, we felt led to make them available on the internet. At that stage we weren't aware of any surviving family members from whom to request permission. We contacted Emmanuel Church who confirmed that T. Austin-Sparks did not want his messages to be copyright and they told us that we were free to do what the Lord was leading us to do. It was only much later that we received contact details for three of Mr Austin-Sparks' daughters. Each of the surviving daughters wrote to us in support of the ongoing work of Austin-Sparks.Net.
Most messages by T. Austin-Sparks were initially published in his free magazine "A Witness and A Testimony" and distributed without charge to regular subscribers. All costs of the magazine were met by gifts from appreciative readers. T. Austin-Sparks' self-published books (printed at Honor Oak) were free or made available at cost and, as far as Austin-Sparks.Net is aware, no royalties were ever collected by the author from the sale of any of his works. Publication expenses were met by way of cost recovery and donations.
In his "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine in 1933 this comment was published regarding the publication of books:
Witness and Testimony Literature
After much spiritual exercise concerning the Literature which has grown out of this ministry, we have come to feel that the Lord would have us make it available without cost to any of His really hungry children who desire to have it, and to him the cost would present some difficulty. We are therefore ready to trust Him to meet this need as He does that of the WITNESS AND TESTIMONY, through the gifts of His children, and now we throw open the literature to His use.
We have continued to make all publications available free of charge wherever possible. To date, the only medium where we have been required to charge has been in publishing e-books on Amazon.com. A minimum charge of 99 cents (US) is mandatory, from which Austin-Sparks.Net receives 35 cents for each electronic book sold. To offset this, in the description section of each book on Amazon.com we have drawn attention to the fact that the book can be downloaded for free from Austin-Sparks.Net.
We appreciate T. Austin-Sparks' wish to not copyright his messages; this has meant that we have been able to offer these works freely on the Austin-Sparks.Net website. We also appreciate his thoughtfulness in protecting his moral rights, thus ensuring the integrity of his messages. We trust that visitors to this website who choose to download and pass on these messages will also offer them freely and without changes, consistent with this statement on each page of the website:
In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks' wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely - free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.
Please do not copy or use this website's logo or photos without permission as they are copyright to Austin-Sparks.net under NZ Digital Copyright law.