Questions concerning the copyright of the KJV

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glorifyinggodinwv

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have decided to use the KJV as my main teaching and preaching Bible. Many of the threads on the PB have led me to the belief that a KJV preferred position is a reasonable and tenable stance. Also, most of the Christians in my community are fierce Arminians and Pentecostals and use the KJV. I believe I will have a better chance of reasoning with them regarding the Doctrines of Grace if we are using a common Bible.

I am looking for information regarding the copyright of the KJV. Much of the material on the internet seems to come from folks who are arguing a KJVO position or in reaction to that position. I have also looked at the material on wikipedia. I was wondering if some of the knowledgeable folks on the PB could answer some questions or point me toward relevant sources of information:

(1) Is it correct to assert that the KJV is public domain in the U.S. and the rest of the world, except for the United Kingdom?

(2) Does this mean that those who produce updated KJVs (not including the NKJV) do so freely and can then copyright their updated version? I am thinking here of the Modern KJV, 21st Century KJV, etc.

(3) I am assuming one would use a generic citation for the KJV when citing it in a paper or book. Does one need to include information regarding editions (1762, 1769, 1873, etc.)? Or will a generic All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. suffice?

(4) If one adapts the language marginally (like change "threescore furlongs" to "about 7 miles" in Luke 24:13 and putting the adaptations in brackets), how would one cite numerous adaptations in a paper or book? Would this suffice: All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible with adaptations by the author in brackets.

I realize some of these questions may seem picky, but I am planning on doing some writing for my congregation and others where these issues will be relevant.

Any help is much appreciated.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Cambridge is the Royal printer in the UK, in the UK, the AV STILL has some copyright protection, (not heavily enforced) everywhere else (with the eception of annotations and maps in certain editions) the AV is Public Domain.
 
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Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I've studied this issue for over 9 years and have a legal background... My impression is the following, regarding some of your questions:

The KJV is most definitely in the public domain, which makes it different from all of the progeny of the Revised English Version that have followed it. The KJV is only copyrighted when there are study notes, cross-references, maps and appendices added to it by some publishing houses. Those additions are what makes a copyright for any particular publishing of the KJV necessary.

Other versions, such as the NKJV, the NIV, the NASB, the ESV, etc., always have changes to the text itself that are sufficient to allow them to obtain a copyright, and thus to earn royalties. Compare, for example, the rendering of just these two verses: 2 Corinthians 2:17, and Genesis 15:1 in both the KJV and some other versions. Those are exemplary of the types of changes that are sufficient to consider them "different works" - and entitle them to avoid the "public domain" status of the KJV.

The answer to your fourth question would probably be yes, but I'm not an expert in copyright law. That's a big caveat. BTW, I believe that it's still the case that you need to make appropriate, precise attribution to a source from which you've taken something only IF you are going to make money for yourself or for the congregation from the sale of the materials you're distributing.

Any legal experts in intellectual property or copyright law out there? (I've done work in each that is pretty de minimis...) I will stand corrected if anything I've said is in error, and what I've stated here is not meant to be construed as legal advice.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
KJV is Crown copyrighted in UK only; out of copyright elsewhere. We discussed this before I think but as part of another thread I guess; couldn't find it.
 

glorifyinggodinwv

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks to everyone for responding.

Margaret--Thanks for your detailed answer. The new versions of the KJV, like the modern KJV, are only able to be copyrighted if it is determined to be a completely new work. Sort of like what Thomas Nelson did with the NKJV. Interesting.

Richard's post made me wonder if Christians outside the UK are ethically obligated to not be so free with the KJV.

Chris--I take it from your post that the matter of the copyright is settled for us in the USA. We can assume, not just legally but ethically, that the KJV is public domain. We have been discussing issues related to this in the Sunday School class, and I want to be careful about what I say regarding this.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
(1) Is it correct to assert that the KJV is public domain in the U.S. and the rest of the world, except for the United Kingdom?
Yes, it is public domain except in the UK.

(2) Does this mean that those who produce updated KJVs (not including the NKJV) do so freely and can then copyright their updated version? I am thinking here of the Modern KJV, 21st Century KJV, etc.
Yes, one can freely use the KJV as a base text to update and then copyright the work. However, it would probably have to be different enough from the updates that you mention.

(3) I am assuming one would use a generic citation for the KJV when citing it in a paper or book. Does one need to include information regarding editions (1762, 1769, 1873, etc.)? Or will a generic All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. suffice?
The generic would suffice.

(4) If one adapts the language marginally (like change "threescore furlongs" to "about 7 miles" in Luke 24:13 and putting the adaptations in brackets), how would one cite numerous adaptations in a paper or book? Would this suffice: All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible with adaptations by the author in brackets.
The last sentence would suffice.
I would suggest staying away from brackets as some versions use them to inform the reader that the text is questionable. Perhaps use something that isn't already used by other versions like...
purloiner {thief}
 

glorifyinggodinwv

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would suggest staying away from brackets as some versions use them to inform the reader that the text is questionable. Perhaps use something that isn't already used by other versions like...
purloiner {thief}

Thanks Larry.

I think your suggestion is a good one. I will use something other than brackets.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
I would suggest staying away from brackets as some versions use them to inform the reader that the text is questionable. Perhaps use something that isn't already used by other versions like...
purloiner {thief}

Thanks Larry.

I think your suggestion is a good one. I will use something other than brackets.
Just remember never to purloin!:cool::cool::cool:
 

Grymir

Puritan Board Graduate
I have decided to use the KJV as my main teaching and preaching Bible. Many of the threads on the PB have led me to the belief that a KJV preferred position is a reasonable and tenable stance. Also, most of the Christians in my community are fierce Arminians and Pentecostals and use the KJV. I believe I will have a better chance of reasoning with them regarding the Doctrines of Grace if we are using a common Bible.

.

Mega Ditto's on your decision!! And yes, you will have a better chance. I'll never forget my dealings with the Mormons in Texas. When I found out they were young-earther's, we had an instant rapport, and when I whipped out my KJV from my back pocket, they were 10 times more open to listening to me. Alot of 'Arminians and Pentecostals' think that modern Christians use the modern versions, and using a KJV definitely gets your foot in the door. With the negative image of the KJV in the modern church, when you interact with these people, it form a temporary quick bond that can be used to your advantage.

God Bless - Grymir
 

PastorTim

Puritan Board Freshman
The copyright to the KJV may indeed belong to the crown, however the Geneva Bible of 1599 which preceded, and prompted, the KJV would not be.
 

Gesetveemet

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sir,
Perhaps this article would interest you. Believers Beware of Counterfeit King James Bibles
I do not endorse the web site or the writer.

I think we should say "Scripture cited is taken from the King James (Authorized) Version"

Peace,
 

Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sir,
Perhaps this article would interest you. Believers Beware of Counterfeit King James Bibles
I do not endorse the web site or the writer.

I think we should say "Scripture cited is taken from the King James (Authorized) Version"

Peace,

Goofy fellow there - I didn't read the whole thing, but he seems to be claiming an inspiration of the English Authorized Version. Hence, changing labour to labor, from the British to the American spelling, makes a reprint a "counterfeit?"
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
Sir,
Perhaps this article would interest you. Believers Beware of Counterfeit King James Bibles
I do not endorse the web site or the writer.

I think we should say "Scripture cited is taken from the King James (Authorized) Version"

Peace,

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read! Wow!
 

Gesetveemet

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sir,
Perhaps this article would interest you. Believers Beware of Counterfeit King James Bibles
I do not endorse the web site or the writer.

I think we should say "Scripture cited is taken from the King James (Authorized) Version"

Peace,

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read! Wow!



:agree: I think there may be some truth to this.

Because the King James Bible is in the publick domain and not copyrighted, these worldly publishing companies think they can make minor changes to the standard text so that they can please certain groups which translates into extra sales for them.




.
 

glorifyinggodinwv

Puritan Board Sophomore
Mr. Johnson (Grymir)--Thanks so much for the encouragement. We are going to start using the KJV in family devotions as well, so my wife can also be a better witness to some of those who work around her.

Rev. Cotton--I considered using the Geneva. The decision to use the KJV was partly motivated by the widespread use of the KJV in this area.

I agree that the idea of updating the KJV solely to please some "readers," so sales will go up and profits will increase, is repugnant. My questions were motivated by wanting to be exact and ethical when I made adaptations for my congregation or when writing papers, etc.
 

PastorTim

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, the lack of use of the Geneva tends to make it difficult to use, or to teach with. Probably why it went into hiding for centuries, I presume.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Chris--I take it from your post that the matter of the copyright is settled for us in the USA. We can assume, not just legally but ethically, that the KJV is public domain. We have been discussing issues related to this in the Sunday School class, and I want to be careful about what I say regarding this.

A good summary of these posts would be: within Great Britain, the KJV is copyright protected, as belonging to the Crown. Outside Great Britain, the KJV is considered public domain and permanently out of copyright, as are all books published before 1923 are.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Sir,
Perhaps this article would interest you. Believers Beware of Counterfeit King James Bibles
I do not endorse the web site or the writer.

I think we should say "Scripture cited is taken from the King James (Authorized) Version"

Peace,

Goofy fellow there - I didn't read the whole thing, but he seems to be claiming an inspiration of the English Authorized Version. Hence, changing labour to labor, from the British to the American spelling, makes a reprint a "counterfeit?"
Thomas is right, while I prefer the traditional Anglo spellings. The premise is absurd.:2cents:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Goofy fellow there - I didn't read the whole thing, but he seems to be claiming an inspiration of the English Authorized Version. Hence, changing labour to labor, from the British to the American spelling, makes a reprint a "counterfeit?"

The irony is that the original 1611 uses both spellings.
 

Dieter Schneider

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have just received an authoritative letter on the issue and have received kind permission to forward it to any interested friends. Please contact me via e-mail. Thank you.
 
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