[sword-devel] Copyrighted Texts Summary

Pergamum sword-devel@crosswire.org
Wed, 1 Dec 1999 22:25:03 -0600

----- Original Message -----
From: Chris Little <chrislit@chiasma.org>
To: <sword-devel@crosswire.org>
Sent: Wednesday, 01 December, 1999 20:55
Subject: Re: [sword-devel] Copyrighted Texts Summary

> If NIV et al were the only available versions of the Bible, I might agree
> with you.  Even if they were just the only MODERN English versions, I
> agree.  But they aren't, not by a long shot.  There are myriad free Bible
> translations in many languages, certainly including English, such as the
> WEB, YLT, Darby, ISV, Webster's, RSV, 1917 JPS, etc.  The NIV, even for a
> dynamic equivalence translation (a concept I find abhorrent enough on its
> own), is a pretty poor translation.  (Okay, cat's out of the bag, I really
> hate the NIV personally.)  I don't care myself whether we ever get the
> to distribute many of these copyrighted translations, but I know that the
> viability of SWORD as a popular product depends on our ability to provide
> some means for giving endusers the translations that they want and expect
> from a professional Bible software package.  Bible publishers wouldn't
> in the slightest, no matter how vehemently we implored them to free their
> translations.  They are businesses and they operate for profit.  For that
> matter, they make most of their profit through books (real ones, not
> electronic) and depend on having the sole right to publish their
> translations.  And I really have no issue with Bible publishers expecting
> money for their translations since for the most part they paid for them.
> They paid all the translation teams, so they get to own the translation.
> you put a sufficient amount of work into someone else's previous work,
> doesn't it become a combined effort.  Don't these companies deserve credit
> for having commissioned the translations and don't they then deserve
> monetary compensation for that since they intended from the start to sell
> them for profit and made no implication to the contrary?
> --Chris Little
On this point, I must disagree.  Zondervan, Nelson, et. al. did not pay for
these translations.  MOST biblical translation work is paid for with grants
from educational institutes, historical societies, private donations or
federally funded grants (procured through the auspices of "supporting the
arts").  Zondervan, et. al are merely the publishers with the paper,
leather, ink and manpower to print en-masse.  The secular lawyers they keep
on retainer make the ludicrous stipulations and conditions that the
publisher inflicts on the use of the books they "buy" from translators, etc.
As I said, and we agree on the point, that they should make a profit for the
publication of their bibles.  But they also should not put limitations on
how much of the actual Scripture I can or cannot quote in my efforts to
bring souls to faith in Christ.  To use an example I'll quote the Thomas
Nelson written permission statement in the beginning of NKJV:

"up to and including 1,000 verses may be quoted in printed form as long as
the verses quoted amount to less than 50% of a complete book of the bible
and make up less than 50% of the total work in which they are quoted."

Zondervan's NIV limitation is HALF of that.  Yes, Zondervan, owners of
"Beavis and Butthead" are going to presume to tell me it is illegal to quote
the Scripture.  Again I specify, I speak only of the text composing Genesis
1- Revelation 22.  Nothing more.  There is a purpose and definite reason why
GOD inspired various translations.  This was in an effort that His Word be
read, and understood, by people of every culture, social level, and
intelligence.  Sadly today many victims of the public schooling system
cannot understand the King's English.  WEB, while in my opinion very cool,
isn't really "in the face of the market" if you will. I had only heard of it
a few years ago and cannot recall having seen one in the stores.  The profit
<that being the current point I was addressing but digressed, sorry> should
come from the materials end, and the added "cost" of the "commentaries" and
extras that the publishers add to the Bible before they ship it to retail.
The very idea that they would try to hoard the Word of GOD for their
personal gain and willfully do injury to the Body of Christ should be
intolerable to Christians.  If Zondervan, etc had indeed commissioned the
translations from ground-up and not merely paid for the right to put their
name on the manuscript I might think differently.  I would still find it in
poor taste that an organization that claims service to GOD would think to
copyright HIS Holy Word, but I would still understand.
The only thing which legally enables these companies to copyright their
translations is the added commentaries, indexes, unique articles and other
added texts that they add which "makes it theirs".  If it were merely the
text of Genesis 1 - Revelation 22 no court in the land would <or perhaps
"should" is a better word here> uphold a copyright grant.  This is why I say
that the claims to copyright in regards to using these translations with
SWORD, a non-profit undertaking, are ludicrous since the NIV, NKJV, RSV, etc
modules for SWORD do not contain any of the added texts that make the work
unique to that publisher.  I personally like KJ and NKJ probably the best
out of all of them.   But my point actually on that is that though I may not
prefer NIV over the others, I use it on occasion.  Also, if it were such a
bad translation as to be inaccurate to the Word of GOD, which He promised to
protect the sanctity and accuracy of, then the convictions of the Holy
Spirit would have crushed the NIV's use in the churches and homes in which
He dwells and only be seen in fringeline apostate and cult churches like
Mormons, JW, etc.  Just because someone dislikes it is no reason to discount
its use in spreading the Word to the masses so long as it is valid and
accurate.  The various translations as I say are merely done for those of
varied reading and comprehension levels, or social and cultural
Addressing the "lost profits" concept.  Thinking by these organizations are
backwards and inaccurate as on most other issues.  They are essentially
doing themselves a disservice by their restrictions; financially shooting
themselves in the foot.  Say you rarely read a paper book unless you have
read about it online. (Many in today's society being hooked on the net.)
Thus being the case, you have never heard of the NKJV, NIV, et. al.  You get
saved and, being hooked on the net you download SWORD, or any other
bibleware for that matter.  Now you get a chance to read the NKJV, NIV, etc.
and you really like it.
Now that you've decided you like it you rush right out and BUY a big fancy
$70 copy at Bookstop. Thus being because in your new-found faith, or just
because you like the book and want to study with others decide to go to
church and you can't drag your computer with you.  There... the
translation's appearance on the SWORD Project has made Zondervan, the owners
of "Beavis and Butthead", another sale so that they can try to buy the
rights to "South Park".  :)
Another fact is that in persecuted nations such as China, Russia, and India
there are many English-speaking Christians that are in hiding and only see
the bible online.  It is safer to have it hidden in your computer files than
having it hidden in your nightstand.  These English speaking converts would
then witness to others in their native tongues.  Especially in countries
where bibles in the native tongue are butchered and edited if not flat out

GOD Bless and Protect you all

In Christ Jesus,

NetZero - Defenders of the Free World
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