[sword-devel] Copyright Scripture distribution

Joel Mawhorter sword-devel@crosswire.org
Mon, 6 Dec 1999 09:29:52 -0800

On Mon, 06 Dec 1999, you wrote:
> 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
> leather-bound-gold-trimmed-complete-with-three-commentaries-and-six-hundred-maps-
> -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.

Hi Jeff,

Did you see the letters I forwarded to the list from the Canadian Bible Society
and the International Bible Society? I think those letters make their stance
fairly clear. If you missed them, I can send them to you. I was just trying to
get permission to use some of their non-English translations.  Getting
permission to distribute the NIV would be even harder, since that is what they
make most of their money on. I'm not saying this to try to discourage anyone
from trying. I'm just pointing out that the comment you replyed to was indeed

In Christ


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