As time goes by, licensing terms on Bible translations seem to be getting less restrictive in general. I am making a hopeful prediction that we'll see a new major translation or revision released under a Creative Commons license before too long.
When it comes to choosing a license, I have an ideal choice which I would hope copyright holders would choose. However, I am not sure that the industry would be idealistically prepared for my choice. So I'll explain my thinking behind the motivating factors for Bible Society X before revealing my guess for the realistic Creative Commons license used for Bible Translation Y.
- Bible Society X will want the text to be attributed to them when being transmitted.
- They will also want to restrict "commerical" uses of the text, so that they can earn revenue by selling printed copies of the text as well as value-adds in print or digital distribution.
- Bible Society X will not want to allow derivative works for two reasons. First, as a form of quality assurance they will want to be sure that Bible Translation Y is not disseminated with any unauthorized changes. Second, they will want to exclusively market and sell derivative like audio Bibles, commentaries, and the like.
Given these factors, I think it is most like that we'll see Bible Translation Y licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license. I would celebrate such a move nonetheless. A current Bible translation would be freed up for various uses by the church, and the copyright holders could still expect financial recompense for the money spent in producing the translation. Perhaps tomorrow I'll share my ideal. For those of you who are familiar with Creative Commons licenses, it should come as no surprise.