15 February 2003

Open Source Bible

I purchased a bible today. I own probably a dozen different bibles, including an assortment of translations -- King James, New King James, NIV, Living, New American Standard, etc. ... A friend and fellow church goer commented about bible copyright. I never considered it but sure enough, in the NASB Bible published by Zondervan I purchased for $25, when I turned the first few pages, my eyes glazed over the copyright page ...
"NASB", "NAS", "New American Standard Bible" and the "New American Standard" trademarks ... are registered by the Lockman Foundation. Use ... requires the permission of The Lockman Foundation


The text of the ... may be quoted and/or reprinted up to ... five hundred (500) verses ... do not amount to ... more than 25% of the total work in which ...

So I guess if I posted a copy online I would be in big trouble. And that the bible is owned, er the trademark is registered to, by an institution that can instruct that an individual be placed into protective custody and charged with punitive fines for sharing the word of God. Oh, I forgot, for the translated word of God. Then I started thinking "Who is Zondervan? Who is The Lockman Foundation? One appears to be a for profit publisher, while the latter is a "nonprofit, interDenOMINATIONal ministry". The Zondervan web site is a professional looking online shop, compared to most of the online retailers who still haven't a clue. Nothing wrong with the profit motive but I do ponder if the typical bible mega-publishing conglomerate CEO enjoys as vast a ratio between his compensation package and lower level worker average salary like his Fortune 100 counterparts. Certainly, there's no campaign to move bible publishing manufacturing offshore like how U.S. flags are made in China.

I wondered, too, if there's been any work on an "Open Source Bible" effort? Besides the King James Version on Project Gutenburg. I did note a few "copyright" versions posted online - I presume the folks posting and downloading those text files don't believe that they've violated Exodus 20. Or they care not either way.


The closest thing I've found to an open source bible is at (believe it or not) http://www.bible.org in the form of the New English Translation. They not only give the digital text away for free, but if you want to you can give translation assitance/commentary to the translating team. The team is still top down, instead of the true open source model, but it is the closest I've seen yet.

Also the World English Translation is copywrite free and the audio version can be downloaded for free at http://www.audiotreasure.com