[sword-devel] Copyright Scripture distribution

The Schmidts sword-devel@crosswire.org
Mon, 06 Dec 1999 10:57:30 -0500

Patrick Narkinsky wrote:

> Y'know...
> I have to agree with Pergamum here.  While, sadly, we have no choice but
> to respect the copyright held by the Bible Society's (and enforced by
> their "publisher's of choice" -- e.g. NIV = Zondervan + IBS; NASB =
> Tyndale + Lockwood -- I think) I have to say that I think that what they
> are doing is very wrong.
> In fact, it sounds suspiciously like Simony on the part of the copyright
> holders to me.  And I don't mind saying it.  It's time to call a pig a pig
> and label the Christian publishing business for what it is: a callous
> attempt to grab money from believers.

OK, has _anybody_ actually contacted any of the bible societies in question?
Yes, the commercial publisher is going to want big $$ for the right to
use/distribute the text.  However, it is _possible_, maybe, that if you write
the bible societies, they may, possibly, give us permission to distribute
their texts at no charge.  As far as I can tell, the bible societies' view on
the subject is this: if [name publisher here] is going to sell $80

-and-you-name-it, or if [name software publisher] is going to sell $200 bible
study software (which, if you ask me is a rip-off [which is why I joined this
project] since their expenses are typically much lower, even with development,
than the publisher making the $80 leather-bound-deluxe-physical bible), they
may as well get a cut of the action to help them fund their translation and
distribution efforts.

However, I know that these societies themselves distribute no-cost/low-cost
bibles to organizations that are engaged in missions/evangelism work, and I
believe that, even with their "exclusive" literary deals with certain
publishers, they retain the right to give licenses for non-commercial printing
and distribution of their translations to third-parties, going around the
publisher.  So, it may be possible, if someone took the time to ask, to get
permission directly from the bible societies.

>From a document that was emailed to me in response to a question I emailed the

     The purpose of IBS is “to serve the Church in evangelism and
     discipleship by providing God’s Word so that people around the world
     may come to faith and life in Jesus Christ.” Internationally IBS
     accomplishes this effort through the Let There Be Light ministry. It
     publishes and provides Scriptures free of charge through monetary
     gifts from believers in North America and other parts of the world.
     These Scriptures are distributed by dozens of evangelical
     organizations, many of which are national missions.

So, if one told them of our mission, to make bible software available w/o the
road-block of price, in electronic format on multiple platforms, some of which
have no/little commercial value, but are non-the-less important, they might be
inclined to help us.  It would probably be good to point out that, while the
program may be downloaded and used anywhere, we are especially interested in
helping out people in developing nations, where linux is becoming increasingly
popular.  To bring it all together, one might use the mexican school system as
an example:  Here we have a developing nation where the school children have
access to computers, but those computers are running linux, and who couldn't
afford commercial bible software if it were available for linux (which it
isn't), but who might be very bright students their economic status
not-withstanding and perhaps some of them would find Bible-Time with the NIV
quite useful (assuming they could get permission to download and install it in
their home directory).

My two cents.

    Jeff Schmidt