Copyright law used to deny God's Word to Portuguese believers...

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Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1)

(Tim) Under "Save your church money...," David Ker, a Bible translator and blogger of Mozambique, commented on the lockdown the Portuguese and Brazilian Bible Societies have put in place denying Portuguese Christians access to Portuguese digital versions of God's Word.

In a blog post titled, "Illegal sources of the Portuguese Bible in digital format," he writes:

While every other major world language has multiple versions of the

Bible represented online, Portuguese has not one. To paraphrase

Emerson, make the Bible illegal and we all become criminals*.

The spirits of John Wycliff and Brother Andrew

hover over this shameful situation compelling us to act. If the enemy

forces were a state religion like the Church of England or an

oppressive government like China or Iran we would think nothing of

risking our lives to bring the Bible to those who can’t access it

otherwise. But in this case because the bad guys have the words “Bible

Society” in their name we’re supposed to sit on our thumbs...

...The result of the lusophone stranglehold on Bibles through copyright

restrictions has resulted in a chaotic and error-riddled corpus of

Portuguese electronic Bibles on the Internet. Excuse me for getting bent out of shape about this but I’m working in

the trenches where print Bibles are scarce and audio and digital Bibles

could be a huge blessing to my college students and my pastor friends,

and could be shared in Internet cafes and via radio and Saber mp3

players but we can’t do it because if we do we’re breaking the law.

If the lusophone Bible Societies are going to hold the Bible hostage

maybe somebody needs to plan a rescue mission.

Indeed. As David and I have said many times, no one--as in not one person, one corporation, or one Bible Society--should ever copyright God's Word except to protect the integrity of particular texts. The money made by Bible societies, Bible marketing corporations, and the Bible schoolmen those societies and corporations pay so handsomely for the use of their titles and names is sinful. It makes the moneychangers in the Temple look like child's play.

Just as there were legitimate ways to get the work the moneychangers turned their profits by done without turning the Temple into a den of thieves, so today there are ways to support those who work to translate and print and ship and electronically serve Bibles without turning Bible scholarship and publishing into a den of thieves. Portuguese speakers are denied access to a Portuguese Bible? Please.

If you answer that they have a Portuguese Bible--just not an internet or digital Portuguese Bible--then you must not be aware of the degree to which digital versions of Scripture have taken the place of hard print versions.

The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. And if King David or the Apostle Paul were alive today, the thought that they would demand royalties from Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society), Zondervan, Tyndale House, or the Portuguese Bible Society for their Bible publishing and sales is ludicrous.

The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and belongs to no one but God who gave it to His Church. Freely. Without cost. Without money. Requiring no payment and threatening them with no law.

Any soul in our churches who profits from copyrighting the Word of God, then using copyright law to forbid the free use of the text he has produced, should be instructed, rebuked; and if he persists, censured. We can have patrons support the scholars in their work. We can pay for the printing and paper and calfskin covers. We can cover the packing and distribution costs. We can make donations to those who charitably and generously run servers that allow Bible texts to be downloaded, digitally.

But copyright and law?

No. Absolutely not.

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By the way, here's another post by David Ker worth checking out titled, " hawks luxury Bibles while the world starves for God's Word."