Until today I was unaware of the demise of the RE:Greek project (formerly known as zhubert.com). Uncertainty about the fair use of copyrighted materials led the founder to shut down the site. Another site is taking up the cause however and hopes to work toward increasingly “Open Scriptures.” Check out Open Scriptures and their article on RE:Greek, Redeeming the Ill-fated Re:Greek Project: a Call for Participation.
- Who owns the Bible?
- Who owns the copyright on the Bible?
- Who owns the copyright on editions of the original languages?
Interestingly, Zack Hubert who created RE:Greek now works for Zondervan who recently purchased Bible Gateway. What we’ve seen in the last century is publishers becoming the key players in Bible distribution in the developed world. We are at an interesting transition period in which Bible Societies are fading, Bible publishers are being snatched up by secular publishers, and an open source movement is afoot that is redefining the concept of “The Bible.” What is The Bible? Is it that book on your shelf? Or the software on your computer? Or the mp3s on your iPod? And the seemingly endless array of specialty editions of the Bible have further eroded the concept of “The Bible.” Study notes, cross references, little boxes with devotional thoughts in them. The list goes on. Is all that stuff “The Bible?”
Mainstream media paradigms are shifting. Publishing is in upheaval. The Bible market will not be unaffected. In fact the Bible has actually led the pack in open source and online resources much like it has during each of the various technological breakthroughs that have led to more people having access to more information.
The rebel in me wants to say, “Let’s storm the gates! God wrote the book! How dare you copyright it!” But I’m hesitant to make so bold a claim since I’m not sure that “crowd-sourcing” and “open source” are going to fill the gap if Bible Societies and publishers go under.
I’m less concerned about saturated markets like the US than I am about places like Mozambique where the Bible Societies are the only source of Bibles and they are currently unable to fulfill the demand.