Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
The other day I heard a pastor state his case for the KJV being THE only inspired Word of God because its not copyrighted. At first I thought nothing of it because I figured he may be right about that. It doesn’t make the case for the KJV being the only inspired Word of God, though. The original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic texts are the inspired Word of God and the KJV may very well be the best translation, but it is not inspired of God directly (as if the translators were in the same league with the apostles)! Recently, I found an article about the KJV 1611 having been copyrighted.
Religious publications in our day frequently contain reviews and critiques of the seemingly endless number of new Bible translations appearing in print. Some of these reviews are favorable while others are critical. Of those that are critical, the negative evaluations are sometimes soundly based, appealing to matters of text or translation with regard to manuscript evidence, lexical matters or points of grammar based on the original languages of the Bible. Others give irrelevant, unsound, or simply ignorant and foolish arguments for their rejection. Often it is those who defend the King James Version as the only valid translation of the Bible in English who fall into this last category. This characterization is not true of every defender of the KJV, but it is true of many, perhaps most.
One very bizarre reason for rejecting the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, or the New King James Version is that these–and apparently all other major versions since 1881–have been copyrighted. The argument is that the publishers, by copyrighting their new Bibles, insured themselves a hefty royalty from every copy sold, and in fact made the new translations with the sinister motive of making a profit on the gullibility of religious people who buy every new Bible that comes along. The KJV, in contrast, is characterized as being far superior to any other version because it is “the only Bible published without a copyright!” (as one recent publication stated). God just won’t use a copyrighted Bible, some insist.
That there may be valid reasons for copyrighting new translations (e.g., to recover the expense of translation and typesetting, which can run into millions of dollars, or to prevent corruption of the text in pirated editions) is rarely considered. But a far more important consideration is the fact that in the matter of being copyrighted, the KJV is not different from other versions–it was and is a copyrighted translation.
So, how is it this lie came about? The “Apostle” Peter Ruckman:
…The cause is immediately evident. The fountainhead or source from which this gross error regarding Bible copyrights sprang is Peter Ruckman and his first misguided foray into the subject of Bible texts and versions, The Bible Babel, published in 1964. Though some had used the “no copyright” argument in denouncing the copyrighted Revised Standard Version when it appeared in 1952, this argument gained no wide currency in the early 1950s. It was only after Ruckman published his book that now one undiscerning writer, now another began to parrot his inaccurate claims concerning English Bible copyrights.
In his book, Ruckman addressed the subject in an inaccurate and self-contradictory manner, and the careless reading of this and subsequent books from his bilious pen have widely diffused this argument. Speaking of the KJV, he writes, “The Book has no financial copyright. It had [note the past tense] the ‘Crown copyright,’ which only applies [note the present tense] to Bible Publishers in the United Kingdom, and this copyright does not demand money from anyone who wishes to quote, cite, reproduce, or print any passage from the A.V.” (p. 15); and again, “The King James Bible is the only Bible in the world that anyone can reproduce, print, or copy without consulting anyone but God. All other ‘bibles,’ without exception, are copyrighted COMPETITORS whose motive was to destroy the A.V.” (p. 16; I wonder how a translation can have a motive); and once more, “And although the A.V. has a ‘Crown copyright’ on it, this in no way affects the USE or the REPRODUCTION of the Book.” (p. 17); and yet once again, “The trouble is that the AV is an honest translation. It has no copyright.” (p. 19). He seems unsure whether the KJV was or is under Crown copyright, and he is certainly wrong about the freedom to publish the KJV in the United Kingdom. His readers ignored even his limited and inaccurate caveats regarding the copyright of the KJV and have simply reproduced the remark that the KJV alone of all earthly Bibles is copyright-free. It is appalling to see so many led so very far astray by one incredibly inaccurate writer. It is a veritable theater of the absurd.
No longer should this foolish argument concerning copyrights be employed. It is groundless, irrelevant, and totally untrue. The tragedy with most of the present Bible translation controversy is that it is based almost entirely on similarly groundless, irrelevant, and untrue arguments. (bold mine)