Posted on May 16, 2011
Two interesting blog posts on copyright and the Bible have been put up, the first by David Ker of FutureBible: “Bible Copyrights Aren’t Evil”, and the second by Peter Kirk of Gentle Wisdom, “Love of Bible copyright is a root of all kinds of evil”.
I encourage you to read them both. My viewpoint, as might be expected, is that we should renounce our copyrights in our translations as the OEB does. As I wrote on David’s site:
*Even a liberal licence gives the owner of the copyright power over the text. It tempts them to restrict use of the text to extract badly needed money (this isn’t an accusation of greed!) or to keep the text safe from bad influences. The desired outcome is good, but the mechanism is risky. It historically leads to the powerful determining what the powerless can make their Bible look like.
The world has already translations full of all sorts of egregious errors, distortions and theologically driven misinterpretations.
And there are certainly many current public domain translations out there which fail the trust test. But this is the price we pay for the freedom to seek the truth ourselves – to approach the Bible without requiring permission, licence or payment.
We should encourage good translations and warn against errors, but not seek to use the power of the State to enforce our (merely human) opinions.*