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 quote it without permission, not only is it unethical, it also breaks copyright law.
Copyright law does have a Fair Use clause which says a writer may quote a certain amount of copyrighted material without permission. However, it doesn’t specify how much an author may quote. It’s always wise, in my opinion, to ask for it first. As an indie author, I use the Authorized King James Version because it’s in the public domain in the United States. In the United Kingdom, a writer still needs permission. It’s copyrighted there.
For United Kingdom authors., here’s an important link: Rights and Permissions | Cambridge University Press
Typically, traditional publishers have a contractual agreement with certain Bible publishers. In their guidelines for writers, they specify which translations they use. Thus, writers for these publishers needn’t worry about getting permission.
Steps to Follow, B & H Publishers
- Visit Home – B&H Publishing (bhpublishinggroup.com).
- Scroll down to the bottom of the Home Page.
- Under the “Permissions” section, click here.
- On the Permissions Page, click on Licensing and Permissions Request form
- Fill out form and submit
This is how to request permission from the B & H Publishing Group. Other Bible publishers use a similar procedure.