I have been thinking about one issue in particular recently. An issue with Bible translations. Most Bible translations are proprietary in nature, something God's word should never, ever be. God's word *must* be freely available for anyone who wants it. I am not saying a publisher must give a copy gratis to anyone who asks for one (however good that may be). What I am saying is that there should be no restrictions on reading, copying, and using the Bible for any purpose.
Forbidding copying the Bible is evil. Anyone must be able to share the Bible as much as they want. Translating the Bible does not change the fact that it is God's word, and that you cannot own it. Thus there should be no ownership over the Bible, and those who assert ownership over it are better off not even translating it.
For these reasons I do not like to recommend Bible translations with heavy restrictions, such as the NKJV, NLT, NIV, ESV, and NASB. The NET is okay in some ways, as it is very loose, but the publisher still asserts a certain amount of ownership over it.
interesting. So basically, bible translations should all be released under a creative commons kind of license?
I do agree with you. The bible should be freely copy-able, so that the bible can be shared easily.
@samylakes No. Under the public domain. Even under a Creative Commons license someone has a kind of ownership over it.
I agree, in principle, with all of this. But: If you insist on this level of "purity" in disseminating the Bible, there will be a significant falling-off on the level of scholarship and editing by professionals and academics and publishers who *require* remuneration as well as copyright protection in order get a return on their educational investment, to support their families, and so on. Of course, it might be better in unforeseen ways to accept that trade-off. But I'm pretty sure there will indeed be a trade-off. Our editions will be less cutting-edge, and we'll have fewer of them. How could it be otherwise?
@malanrich @masterofthetiger this is true. I agree that you don't own the bible, and it should be freely available... but @malanrich makes a good point too. There are already open translations I think but they aren't as good because they aren't as well resourced; you could argue that commercial translations will have their own skew.
However there is nothing stopping a group of students creating a Creative Commons Translation bible as a git repository or similar, and having translation improvements crowd sourced like any other project. The fact that this or similar hasn't happened much supports the point that not charging and using copyright laws means less people are willing to work on it as open source free projects don't seem to justify PhD-level groundwork
I am talking about the ethical issues of this. These people should not be owning any part of the Bible.
In addition, if people are doing it for their personal gains, it would be better for us not to have that translation.
But it is possible to have good translations without restrictive measures. For example, in the past translations were published without demanding that people not share the scriptures. Such as the KJV, and the ASV. Also, the NET (a good, modern translation) is a good translation and allows for free non-commercial distribution.
I'm not taking a strong position on this, because I haven't yet thought out the unintended consequences. I do come from an academic background, and I know scholar spending a lifetime on a project don't want it "monkeyed with'" by anybody once it has achieved what that scholar believes is maximum perfection to the best of his ability. It's not (only) about money; it's about how the craftsman seeks control of his project. I'd like to think I'm wrong about this when it comes to translation and dissemination of Scripture. I'd hope that an "open" Bible project would inspire the highest levels of scholarly competence. As TigerMaster says, a project can't really go wrong if God is in it. If nothing else, it would be fascinating to observe the development of such a project, just to witness both its tragedies and triumphs. I would predict that the translators with the most advanced academic credentials would insist on the greatest control (of production as well as future editing). On the other hand, amateurs endowed with the Holy Spirit have produced some remarkable translation results.
But another issue would be licensing: do we use creative commons share alike/gpl copyleft to protect it, or do we go full public-domain/mit to allow more freedom. Does "Using the Bible for any purpose" include making copyrighted variations of it?
I think that we have good translations already, but a professionally edited and improved version would be interesting. However, the NET already does something similar. I am thinking that for moral reasons it should lean towards public domain. However, since our (copyright) system is broken in that others can use it for evil, some kind of legal protection may be needed, but it should be weaker than the GPL or CC-BY-SA. As in, no credit should be required, none of the difficult stuff to accomplish either (that is, everyone shouldn't have to distribute the source for it, that is restrictive when it comes to this kind of work). A new, short, simple, copyleft-like license may need to be written.
@malanrich @masterofthetiger They may require remuneration, but they certainly don't require copyright protection, which is an intellectual monopoly that exists solely as it is enforced by the State. The Reformers certainly knew no such restrictions when using the printing press.
There are other, better, more creative and ethical ways to fund this work. Crowdfund it, kickstart it, patronize it through cooperative dollars given to denominational conventions.
Is not the worker worth his pay? Copyright allows this kind of work to continue. Nestle-Aland (whose Editio Critica Maior (Greek NT) has been used to translate the Bible for over a hundred years) defends copyright:
What's nice is that copyright can expire (arguably after too long).
These attempts to accurately proliferate God's word should be commended, and allowed to profit.
@everlastingrocks Yes, a worker is worthy of his wages. But is restricting how others share God's Word with others the way to do it? There is a limit that this argument can go. There are projects that go well now without restrictive copyright measures. It is simply not necessary to forbid sharing God's Word to translate it even for a profit.
I believe that if someone wants to translate God's Word, their motivation should be purely based on God's calling for them, and thus God will work on the specifics there. The Bible is about faith remember. The Christian faith isn't about any of these schemes to make money. God will provide in so many ways regardless.
I also agree in principle, however I fear the part of the open source/open license mentality where you can repost it however you want. Not that people don't do that with licensed versions, but maybe there is some deterrent from people directly and maliciously reposting it with their own edits? Or even crating their own version à la the Jeffersonian "bible" and claiming it to be our holy book?
@Fusioncow Well, you can edit the KJV and other translations without issue. A person shouldn't change the Bible to deceive someone, but copyright law is not the place to enforce it.
@masterofthetiger There's more to it than that. Most bible translations, considering history, are public domain. A few modern translations are copyrighted; they represent thousands of hours of scholars and theologian's time; typically recuperated through volume sales.
If you pick up an open source bible package like BibleTime, Xiphos, etc. you will find links to hundreds of bible texts in multiple languages that you can download, use, and distribute freely.
@masterofthetiger SPOT ON
The "Fair Use" part of copyright law is fairly broad. Mostly allowing about 1,000 words without restriction.
Yes. But Fair Use is also very vague. But that's beside the point here. This is about a person trying to control God's word and threatens to legally attack people who share His word just because that person translated it.
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