Graeme’s

You can get new post notifications through RSS, email, Twitter or Facebook

Time to end a 400+ year old private monopoly

Posted by Graeme in Religion at 7:30 am on Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Is it right that a tremendously important literary work, also a work of religious importance to many, should be public domain throughout the world, except in the country whose people’s taxes paid for it? Is a 400 year old private monopoly, granted as part in order to further censorship something that should be maintained? This is exactly what has happened to the Authorised Version of the Bible (the King James Version), which, in the UK is still under a perpetual crown copyright, with a small number of private companies profiting from the letter patent or licences they have inherited to print it.None of the usual arguments in favour of copyright apply here. It provides no incentive, it does not reward the original creator or their employers (in fact it taxes the descendants of those who ultimately paid for it). It is not “harmonised” with international standards (the argument for extending UK copyright from life +50 to life +70 years) — quite the opposite, in fact.

It makes it harder for the British to produce critical editions of one of the most important literary works of our language, than it is for anyone elsewhere in the world. Its impact on religious uses of the Bible is more limited, as there are plenty of better translations: but some people do like the KJV and I see no reason not to let them do as they wish with it. Who ever wants to, for example, produce an edition with comments and notes, should be free to do so, whether they are a devout Christian, or an atheist attacking Christianity — I imagine many people would be interested in a Richard Dawkins edition, while others would like a Catholic version (Catholic Bibles include some minor books omitted by protestant ones) that incorporated the KJV.

The crown once controlled all printing in the UK, and this is an anachronistic remnant of it. It benefits no one, except those who hold letters patent. If one considers what letters patent are (arbitrary monopolies granted by the crown to private businesses) it is clear why they are no longer granted, and why the vast majority have been abolished. Why should this be an exception? There is no good reason.

If you are a British citizen OR resident, you can sign a petition to end this outrageous private monopoly.

Comments(0)