Q: Is it legal to use verses from the bible on "print on demand items" to sell online? Do I need a license? I live in MN.
It depends on what version (edition/translation) of the bible you're quoting.
The ancient versions of religious texts are almost certainly in the public domain, and freely usable. However, any quote you're likely to come across in the "print on demand" context is going to be from a modern translation. Although modern translations are based on ancient versions, it does not mean they are also in the public domain. That the modern translation took a lot of work from a lot of people to create, and likely qualifies as a derivative work and is eligible for its own copyright protection.
Therefore, modern translations of religious works are very likely to be subject to copyright restrictions. For example, the copyright restrictions on the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible are posted here: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-International-Version-NIV-Bible/, which states that you may not use quotes of their translation for commercial use without permission. The same website states that the the NIV bible was the product of over one hundred scholars working over ten years to complete the original version, with updates having been provided for the last forty or so years. That sounds like an investment of time and resources worth protecting.
To answer your question directly: if the bible verse is modern-sounding, you probably need a license to it commercially.
1 user found this answer helpful
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.