I am part of a group that hopes to create a new Bible translation. I have two questions.
First, there are only so many ways a particular verse can be translated, if you want both a highly accurate translation and good readable English. There are bound to be many verses and phrases that are worded very similarly to other, copyrighted Bible translations. And for a few of our translators, I'm afraid there will be a temptation to occasionally take a shortcut and make use of a copyrighted translation in part.
My question is at what point does similarity between two translations become a copyright violation? Even if I don't look at any other translation, will I have to edit out any similarities that show up, or avoid using any phrase that appears in any other version? Especially for familiar chapters and verses that we have memorized, how do you avoid being influenced by the copyrighted version you learned?
Are there any rules or guidelines you would suggest to keep us as safely and firmly within the law as possible?
My second question has to do with the work in progress. It may take years to finish. Individuals are translating single chapters, and then other individuals are making changes, corrections, improvements. For the finished project, the copyright will belong to our church body. But at this point all the work is being done by volunteers (almost all are pastors serving at churches in this church body, but they are not employees of the church body itself). How do we handle the copyright in this interim period? At this moment, it's not even an official synodical project, just a grassroots effort to get the ball rolling. Who owns the copyrights, and how do we establish what editing or use of these words is permitted before there is a final copyrightable product? Some of us may want to use portions from this translation in our sermons, Bible classes and newsletters while it's still being worked on. And we're fine with that, but we don't know copyright law.