[sword-devel] Copyright Scripture distribution

George Washington Dunlap III sword-devel@crosswire.org
Tue, 7 Dec 1999 12:08:04 +0200 (EET)

On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, David Burry wrote:

> You may interpret this any way you wish and I shall not argue.  That is
> only between you, Zondervan, Cesear, and God!  ;-)

"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether
it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governorss, as unto them that are
sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them
that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put
to silence the ignorance of foolish men.... Servants, be subject to your
masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the
froward." 1 Peter 2:13-15,18

The clear command is to spread the news of the Gospel and to make
disciples of all nations.  I have never seen a tract that quotes more than
a chapter at a time, and rarely heard a sermon that does so.  I've never
seen a book on discipleship or on holiness quote a chapter at a time
either, and I can't really see the need to do so.  Short quotes are
protected by "fair-use" law and in fact allowed by the licenses I've seen.  
Cheap bibles, even in the NIV, are easy to get; the one I use right now is
"The NIV Quiet Time Bible" printed by InterVarsity; the binding is cheap
and there are a couple of typos, but the cost was only $6.  And there are
plenty of public domain or freely distributable texts for English.

The point is, Pergamum, that the US law is not preventing you from obeying
God's law.  We all seem to agree that the "masters" are being somewhat
"froward", although we disagree on the degree.  That does not preclude us
from obeying them.  Jesus told the disciples to do everything the
Pharisees told them to do, but not to be like them.  When asked to pay
tax, Jesus proved to Peter that the children of God do not need to pay
tax; but then he paid it anyway.  Even if all your accusations against
Zondervan and bible societies are true, since there is a way to obey the
US law and God's law, you are required by God's law to do so.

As for foreign translations, you can support the spread of the Word by
supporting those societies.  If they are, as you allege, doing it only so
that they can get glory for it, what is that to you?  In all ways, Christ
is preached. (See Phillipians 1:15-18.)

If you want to change the status quo, do it the right way.  Start a
movement, write letters, write a book, start an e-mail list, join lobbying
efforts.  Examine all the issues and problems facing bible societies,
*listen* to the people in them when they explain why they do things, look
at their lives and manner before you judge them.  The people in bible
societies may be in error; but it cannot be that all the people in bible
societies are selfish and unreasonable.  (If so, they can hardly be
trusted to make a good translation of the Bible, being totally untouched
by it.)  You might even join a bible society and see the work they do, and
influence their policy from the inside.  They have real fears and hopes
and aspirations. They may be going about it in the wrong way, but they are
honestly trying to go about them.  Calling them names is hardly going to
show them the error of their ways.

Anyway, I think that this aspect of the thread should probably end soon...
most of the developers agree that SWORD ought not to distribute
copyrighted texts without permission, and it's doubtful that they will
change their minds.  We will all end up sounding like skipping CD's if we
keep this going.  Discussions of ways to work within the laws, or about
discussing ways to contact or change the minds of the copyright holders
are more to the point.

In Him,

 -George Dunlap