Why is there a copyright on modern translations of the Bible?

New translations of the Bible are expensive and take an enormous amount of resources and time. Publishers want to protect that investment and one way to do so is by having a copyright.

Critics say the Word of God should be available to everyone and no protection is needed. Those in the King James Version Only crowd say copyrighting proves other translations are corrupt, going so far as to say they contain man's words, not God's.

However, the KJV was copyrighted when it was first published and remains under copyright protection in the United Kingdom. A KJV Only advocate, Doug Kutliek, shows that the KJV is not copyright free in "The KJV Is A Copyrighted Translation."

Placing protections on a translation, be it the KJV or The New Living Translation or the English Standard Version or any other translation, does not reflect the translations' accuracy or quality. Translations are developed for different reasons—to give a word to word translation, a phrase to phrase translation, to update what we know about the original languages, or to bring older translations up to date with modern language. Producing a translation takes work and financial investment. Copyrights help protect the people working on the translations and ensure that Bible publishing companies can remain in business.

All modern translations of the Bible allow certain amounts of text to be used in other publications such as books, Bible studies, articles, and such. Publishers are generally quite generous with their blanket permissions to use sections of the Bible they publish. Look for the "fair use" statement in the Bible from the publisher.

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