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Re: sword-text-kjv - King James Version and Royal Letters Patent

On Thu, Nov 10, 2005 at 10:24:04AM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:

> debian-legal has reviewed this topic before. You can read it in
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/05/msg00108.html Some of
> the links there have rotted, but it seemed clearly not Crown
> copyright.

I don't see a conclusive answer in that discussion; only doubt and
"didn't find any proof that this restriction still holds". I'd prefer
if we could find a specific abrogation of the restriction.

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version_of_the_Bible
> Wikipedia asserts that the KJV is still copyrighted in England.
> I think Wikipedia is incomplete at best.

> It is my present understanding that the royal letters patent
> control printing, not copyright, which did not exist here when
> this started.

I see... Then it would make the KJV merely non-free in the UK, not
illegal to distribute. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too surprised
if the courts would interpret "printing" in such an old text as "any
efficient way to disseminate / distribute".

> This "orthogonality" or "independence" is
> mentioned in articles, including some you can find online like
> http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/conf/dac/en/sterling/sterling.html
> Crown Copyright in the United Kingdom..., by J.A.L. Sterling.

This one doesn't contain the string "ortho" and "indepen" only at one
place that doesn't seem to apply.

> Lionel Elie Mamane cited the 1998 Copyright Act, which surprised
> me because I've not heard of it. Which country is it for?

I mistyped; I meant 1988, for the UK.

> I haven't yet found anything credibly showing extension of the
> prerogative to electronic distribution, or more generally to
> become a Crown copyright. I don't think we generally grant
> the monarchy new prerogatives these days and "The Crown cannot
> invent new prerogative powers" (2002-03 Public Admin. Select
> Comm. Press Notice 19).

The question is not of new prerogatives, but whether the old one
concerning KJV of the bible has been abrogated or not.

> The act currently in force in England is the Copyright Designs
> and Patents Act 1988 as amended. If the KJV were covered by
> Crown Copyright, wouldn't that have expired after 125 years? I
> think the letters patent and royal prerogative are the problem.

On the other hand, it says (section 171):

171.-(1) Nothing in this Part affecs-

       (a) any right or privilege of any person under any enactment
       (except where the enactment is expressly repealed, amended or
       modified by this Act);

       (b) any right or privilege of the Crown subsisting otherwise
       than under an enactment;

Wouldn't this preserve this perpetual Crown Copyright / Royal
Prerogative / ...?

I'm starting to think that the Wikipedia article talks of "copyright"
loosely, not only to what is called "copyright" legally, but of all
legal restrictions of dealings with distribution, performance,
derivation, ... of literary works.

> So, it's not a problem to *distribute* the KJV in England, as far as
> I can see, but it seems you're not free to print it here.



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