Translation copyright

Reply Sat 26 Oct, 2013 01:31 pm
I'm creating a new translation of a small portion of the Bible for use in a commentary. In order to make it as accurate (and smooth) as humanly possible, I not only consulted lexicons and commentaries, but every single translation available. But now I'm worried about copyright infringement issues. My interpretation is that I can use other translations as a resource for getting closer to the original meaning of the text; I just can't borrow any of their creative expression of that meaning. That's a hard line to know how to draw. It's hard not to perhaps subconsciously use the same wording I've heard before. Or suppose two independent copyrighted translations use exactly the same wording for a verse, or three translations, or four, and I can't improve on it. Would its use in multiple sources permit me to use the same wording, even if I didn't think of it myself? Does it depend on how creative it is? I don't want to be different just for the sake of being different (that's a good way to end up being wrong just for the sake of being wrong). What if there is a single word that I'm trying to come up with the best English equivalent, and one of those translations had the perfect choice, I don't want to steal it, but when I go to Thesaurus.com, there simply is no better choice. I know I wouldn't get sued for a single word, but this isn't so much about legal protection but integrity. What is the right way to do it? How do you draw the line between using available resources as much as is allowed and not misusing them?
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