The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Using standard licenses for Bibles

It seems that Simon Cozens and I are fellow-travelers when it comes to our experiences with Bible licensing. I agree with Simon - more Bible copyright holders should license their work under "standard" licenses like Creative Commons. There have recently been some encouraging steps in the right direction in the world of Bible licensing, but each publisher seems to craft their own license (e.g. NET, SBLGNT, LEB, etc.). Each of these licenses has various provisions, some of which are confusing for end users. Yes, let's move forward with Bible copyright holders choosing freer, easier-to-implement licenses.

I found Cozens' post via Better Bibles Blog, which in its commentary included the following:

Let me just add that there isn’t a “one-size fits all” solution for Bible licenses. Some Bibles can and should be given away while others which have been produced at great financial expense need to recoup the investment.

Here you can see how the commercial model of financing Bible translations has become dominant. Bible translation need not be a cost-neutral, break-even endeavor. It need not be an investment which expects a return. Or rather, the return is not monetary. Christians gladly fund so much without any expectation of recouping an investment (or profits). The most prominent example is missionary work.

Bible translation should not be any different. We as a church translate the Bible as a necessary function of our discipleship, not because it is an "investment." We should be happy to pay up-front costs for the process. Once the need for "recouping" the costs is removed, it becomes easy to permissively license Bible texts. Let's avoid "the effect of tying down translations with excessively restrictive licenses" entirely.

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