Is it possible for Christian writers to get in legal trouble when they quote the Bible? Yes. This is especially true for indie authors. To quote any modern translation requires written permission from that translation’s publisher. If we don’t get permission, not only is it unethical, it also breaks copyright law.
Of course, the law also has a principle called Fair Use. Under this part of the law, an author may quote a certain amount of material from a copyrighted work without permission. How much may the author quote? Several factors are considered, which we’ll not discuss here. Because claiming Fair Use can be tricky at times, I like to play things safe. This is why I recommend using the Authorized King James Version if we’re citizens of the United States, because in America it’s in the public domain. This means we don’t need permission to quote it.
However, for those authors who live in the United Kingdom, they still need permission before they can use it. Here’s a link for United Kingdom authors:
Traditional publishers typically have a contractual agreement with certain Bible publishers. They’ll tell us in their guidelines which translation they use. So, if we go the traditional route, we needn’t worry about obtaining permission since the publisher has already done that.
As an example, let’s look at B&H Publishing’s website. B & H publishes the Christian Standard Bible. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Visit the website at https://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/.
Step 2: Scroll down to bottom of home page to the “About Us.”
Step 5: Click on “here” under the Licensing and Policy Requests section.
Step 6: Click on “To Use or Publish a B & H product.”
Step 7: Fill out the form and submit.
This is how to get permission from B & H Publishing. Other Bible publishers use a similar procedure.
Till next week, friends. Keep tapping away on those laptop keys!