COPYRIGHT AND PERMISSIONS

 

Why is there copyright on the Bible?
Which translations of the Bible are protected by the copyright of the Bible Society of South Africa?
What are the costs involved in copyright permission?
Under what circumstances is it unnecessary to apply for copyright permission?
Who holds the copyright for the English translations of the Bible?

Download the complete copyright policy of the Bible Society of South Africa here.
Download the application form for individuals and for legal entities.

For any other copyright queries please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact us on 021 910 8777.


Why is there copyright on the Bible?
 
The most prominent reasons for copyright on any published work are firstly to protect the integrity of the text and, secondly, to protect the rights of the copyright holder.

Copyright on the Bible helps to protect the integrity of the text. In line with the South African copyright law:

  • No person may make changes to the text of the Bible in order to support his, or her, personal theology, or other opinions.
  • No person may publish text from the Bible, which has been translated from the original languages by the Bible Society at great cost, without permission and to make a profit.

The Bible Society of South Africa has also established contracts with the copyright holders of some English Bibles, and must, therefore, pay copyright fees on every such copy that is published.

All translations of the Bible in Afrikaans (1933/1953, 1983/1992 and Die Bybel vir almal) are protected by copyright, and are freely available for reading purposes on the website www.bybel.co.za.

Translations of the isiNdebele, Sepedi, Sesotho, Siswati, Setswana, Xitsonga, isiXhosa and isiZulu Bibles are protected by copyright, and are freely available for reading purposes on the website www.bibles.co.za.


Which translations of the Bible are protected by the copyright of the Bible Society of South Africa?  

Please note that the date which appears next to a translation is only the name of the translation and not necessarily the latest copyright date.

Afrikaans
Bybel in Afrikaans 1933/1953
Bybel in Afrikaans 1983/1992
Bybel vir Dowes/almal 2007
Nuwe Testament en Psalms: 'n Direkte Vertaling 2014

IsiNdebele
Bible in isiNdebele 2012

Sepedi
Bible in Sepedi 1904/1986
Bible in Sepedi 2000

Sesotho
Bible in Sesotho 1909/1961 (Standard orthography)
Bible in Sesotho 1989 (Standard orthography)
Bible in Sesotho 1989 (Lesotho orthography)

Siswati
Bible in Siswati 1996

Xitsonga
Bible in Xitsonga 1929/2012
Bible in Xitsonga 1989

Setswana
Bible in Setswana 1970/1987
Bible in Setswana 1908/1992

Tshivenda
Bible in Tshivenda 1998

IsiXhosa
Bible in isiXhosa 1859/1975
Bible in isiXhosa 1996

IsiZulu
Bible in isiZulu 1959/1997
New Testament and Psalms in isiZulu 1986

 

What are the costs involved in copyright permission?  

The cost of copyright permission is determined for each individual publication. The cost is decided on the grounds of the number of scriptural passages that are quoted, as well as the percentage of the product that consists of scriptural quotes. The copyright fees are based, thereafter, on the selling price of the specific publication.

 

Under what circumstances is it unnecessary to apply for copyright permission?  

The Bible Society of South Africa gladly offers permission to authors and publishers to quote up to five hundred (500) verses from the Bible in any format (written, visual, electronic, or audio). The quoted verses may not, however, exceed fifty percent (50%) of a complete book of any of the Bible, or more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the total text in which they are quoted, otherwise permission must be secured in advance. Copyright must still, however, be acknowledged on the verso page of the publication.

Please refer to our copyright policy for more information in this regard.

Congregational use of Bible quotations has to do with the normal use of the Bible. Copyright makes provision for the reasonable use of quotations, and it is in no way the aim of the Bible Society to restrict the normal use of the Bible.

As soon as Bible quotations are used in a publication which leads to the commercial gain of the publisher, written permission must be obtained from the Bible Society, and the necessary copyright acknowledgement granted.

 

Who holds the copyright for the English translations of the Bible?

Contact the following organisations to apply for English copyright:

CEV (Contemporary English Version)
Copyright © American Bible Society
Theresa Dionisio e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.americanbible.org

TEV (Today’s English Version) also GNT (Good News Translation)
Copyright © American Bible Society
Theresa Dionisio e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.americanbible.org

ESV (English Standard Version)
Copyright © Crossway Bibles
Good News Publishers
1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187 USA
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

KJV (King James Version) also AV (Authorised Version)
No copyright (Public Domain)

NIV (New International Version)
Copyright © Biblica, Inc.
www.biblica.com

NKJV (New King James)
Copyright © HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions
501 Nelson Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37214-1000 USA
Robert Downs e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.