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The Christian Commons - Ending the Spiritual Famine of the Global Church

The Christian Commons - Ending the Spiritual Famine of the Global Church

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Published by Sammis Reachers

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Published by: Sammis Reachers on Mar 30, 2013
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08/16/2013

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As we have already seen, in virtually every country copyright auto-
matically attaches to a creative work—a Bible translation, book,
painting, photograph, etc.—at the point of creation. For instance,
when a translation is made of the Bible into another language, the
translation itself becomes the copyrighted possession of the trans-
lator (or translators, if it was made by a team of people). By default,
a translation of the Word of God or any other discipleship resource,
has all rights reserved for the translator, from the outset.14
Copyright restrictions just happen, even without applying for a
registered copyright. Owners of the copyrights, however, can re-
lease those restrictions by granting permission to others, usually in
the form of a license. A license authorizes a use of the work

14As with much of copyright law, the statements in this paragraph come
with caveats. For instance, if the translation was made as a “work for
hire” or if another legal mechanism was employed that transfered the
rights on the translation to another entity, then the translator would not
own the translation.

152The Christian Commons

(e.g. creating a translation) which would otherwise be an infringe-
ment of the copyright holder’s rights.
By releasing a discipleship resource under a license that provides
broad freedoms to others who encounter it, a copyright holder can
legally pre-clear others to use the content in ways that would not
otherwise have been possible, apart from writing a new license for
each and every use. This “open-licensing” of content can only be
done by the owner of the copyright.
The vast majority of discipleship resources that could be useful to
the global church are under copyright, with all rights reserved for
the content owner alone. Given the critical need for open-licensed
discipleship resources that the global church can use and re-use
without restriction, it is important to understand why there are so
few open-licensed resources available. If copyright law can (and
does) limit the freedom and spiritual growth of the global church,
why are legal restrictions on the Word of God and other disciple-
ship resources maintained in the first place?
No one in ministry wants to hinder the global church from growing
spiritually. But releasing discipleship resources under open licenses
is not always a popular idea, often for two primary reasons. The
first has to do with financial considerations, and the second has to
do with concerns regarding maintaining the integrity of the con-
tent.

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