The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Bible Licensing: The Idealist

Following up on yesterday on my hopeful prediction about a Creative Commons licensed Bible text, I'd like to explain which license I'd like to see chosen, as opposed to the license I think is most likely to be chosen. I would also affirm that a copyight license should be chosen, as opposed to public domain assignment. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.

  • Attribution should remain a requirement. This way the people who did the work can be assigned credit (and blame). It also facilitates better cooperation with those people who are creating derived works.
  • Commercial uses should not only be allowed, but encouraged. The production of a good Bible translation could be a boon to Christians who could earn money by selling derived works. The implication here is that the production of translations should be decoupled from publishing.
  • Redistribution, correction, expansion, and derived works should be encouraged. Scholars get nervous about allowing derivations, since those can easily become mutilations. However, it is important for the health of the academic community that improvements be allowed. Let a mechanism other than copyright law decide which are proper improvements to the text. Also, some people may create derived works (audio recordings, translations, commentaries, etc.) which will multiply the value of the translation for the church.
  • Downstream distributors should be required to "share alike," so that the text and its derivatives always remain freely licensed.

That adds up to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. I'd love to see a high quality translation or revision be released under such terms.