NIV2010 still hard to quote online


The ESV still has easier licencing to work with, providing multiple sources for online use, while the new NIV is still unhelpfully restrictive.

The old NIV had some rather out-of-date licencing terms which made it very hard to use the text in any online services. It was a bit of a nuisance. On the other hand, the ESV is highly lenient and has restrictions marginally more permissive which enable use (by Christians only) of the text in a variety of ways. This is kind and very helpful. They even offer a convenient API which allows us to grab the text and work with it very easily and legally (scraping from BibleGateway for example being forbidden, as none of the text there can be redistributed, especially electronically). So, the ESV won.

Biblica/Zondervan unfortunately has kept the same rules for the new NIV2010, with the result that it is still a mess to use on church websites. This post therefore is my formal cry of aggravation and request that Biblica relax their rules to permit non-commercial re-use. The NIV may be quoted, but there is no place to get the quotations from. That is, the bare text itself as distributed for example in print may be quoted, but all the sites which distribute it like BibleGateway encumber the text with extra clauses which restrict the way that source may used for the purpose of making quotations.

Two sentences in particular stand out: “These scriptures have been made available on the Internet for your personal use only” seems to preclude putting a verse in a notice sheet for example. Why does Zondervan impose this clause on sites like BibleGateway, when their own copyright statements only restrict commercial use, allowing non-commercial non-personal use? Even more anachronistically, we have “These Scriptures are not shareware and may not be duplicated”, a pre-digital era phrasing—does a web cache duplicate? These sort of statements are confusing at best for churches trying to work out what Zondervan wants to let us do.

So, as far as I see it, any website may use the updated NIV material, provided it is typed in by hand from a paper copy. Please Biblica, get real and place no further non-commercial restrictions beyond your quoting limits and attribution request. You would not lose any sales if you changed your agreement with BibleGateway to match the ESV more closely, nor if you were very generous and provided some of the services Crossway does. Either way, the current situation is not helpful.

The one thing I see as a possible get-out is to use the argument that BibleGateway has nothing do with it; what we want is just to quote in electronic form under the limits given, as is granted to us by the Zondervan licencing on their own site. In the same way that a web cache is a necessary technical thing to get that quotation to the user, an application cache is similarly necessary to allow programmatic quoting. Could this tenuous argument justify keeping a (non-downloadable) cache of the NIV text? I hope so, because it is what people are already doing, and, just like copy-and-paste from BibleGateway has been a staple for years, it is going to continue to be done unless Zondervan makes it more clear that this implementation of quoting is not allowed. Please, some sanity, and harmonise the BibleGateway copyright statement with the Zondervan one, or be kind and give us something even easier to work with like the ESV.

Some of my friends (well, at least one) has a blog followed by more prominent evangelicals. If anyone can pull the right strings by spreading this mention, that would be kind.