Does anyone own the copyright to Bible quotes/scriptures?

Asked almost 5 years ago - Toledo, OR

I want to sell my photography in various forms, on some I would like to include quotes from the Bible. Does anyone owns the copyright to scripture?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . No, biblical scripture isn't copyrighted.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Jonathan H Levy

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I can't imagine anyone suing you for doing that:

    "They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."

  3. Daniel Nathan Ballard

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The short answer is no.

    I assume that you want to publish the quotes in English. Because the various books of the Christian Bible were originally written in Hebrew, Koine Greek, Aramaic, and Chaldean, someone had to translate the authors' text into English (sometimes passing through Latin along the way). The vast majority of the Christian Bibles in use today, however, are translations that were first created many years ago and so those translations are no longer protected by copyright. If you intend to attach to your photographs Biblical quotes from text that was recently translated, however, copyright may still attach to those passages. Because SHORT quotes are not copyrightable you may freely use short quotes (no matter how recently created or translated) from any Bible that you wish. Speak to a copyright attorney if you intend to publish long quotes (there is no set rule on what is a "short" quote versus a "long" quote). Good luck.

  4. Barbara H. Loewenthal

    Contributor Level 6

    Answered . Copyright law is very complex. One factor used to determine whether a work is in the "public domain", and therefore, available for use by all, depends on when the work was either created or published. As you know, there are many versions and adaptions of the Bible. As a general rule, quotes and verbiage from a version of the Bible created and/or published prior to 1923 would probably be considered to be a work in the public domain, and available for use. To be safe, and without knowing more facts, limit the number of quotes you used in the context of your work as a whole.

    In addition to the "quotations", note your photograph. While you may have certain rights of publicity (depending on the laws of your state) in your image, the photographer is the owner of the copyright. You must secure from the photographer the copyright prior to your further dissimination of your photograph.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship

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