Many Pies

Many Pies

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Bible translation and copyright

Disclosure - I work for Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK and we second people to other organisations to work on Bible Translation. I don't do translation, but I work in IT. I don't speak for Wycliffe Bible Translators UK.

I've had a draft post on copyright and the Bible sat around for ages, and today I came across this post by Michael Johnson, Bible Copyright vs. the Churchwhich describes many of the issues, and does it a whole lot better than I could. I'm not sure I agree with everything he says, but I do with most of it. So I suggest you read it.

I won't discuss the issue of making money, but there is also an issue about quality of translation. If a group of people put a lot of effort into a translation and then relinquish copyright and make it available digitally then someone else could take their translation, change the bits they don't like and republish it under the same name of the original translation. They may produce a "worse" translation, but someone's standards. Then there are two versions of this Bible. If the worse translation gets a lot of coverage people may blame the original group of translators for producing a bad translation, whereas they've done nothing wrong. 
Creative Commons may give ways of making the Bible available, whilst making sure it doesn't get changed, so those who actually publish copyright bibles could consider this.

What got me started on the original article was this post on Google+, which I post without comment. 

Update: There is the Every Tribe Every Nation project which is working to get Bible texts distributed in digital form. So those who own the copyright aren't necessarily holding onto the texts but are releasing them for use. It involves Wycliffe, Biblica and the American Bible Society. Youversion are one of the consumers of the texts.

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