The problem of publishing Bibles lies in the fact that a particular Biblical translation can be copyrighted as well as the particular publisher. Many Bibles come not just as the text itself, but with notes, comments, indices, appendices or maps. So, particular editions of the Bible as well as the translated text itself carry a burden of dual citizenship.
Here is an overview of several major versions and the copyright notices that they include. Most of them include provision for a limit on the number of verses one may quote at a time, they also include attribution notices and consideration that people will reproduce the translations for small group study, handouts, worksheets, service leaflets or projectors in worship.
Bible publishers are in the odd position of knowing that what they print will be quoted and copied extensively. Different from other publishers, they are often ready to give permission to copy, though often arbitrary.
One thing that none seem to consider is that the Biblical text will be read aloud. Some make provision for audio recording which might be considered to cover this. I wonder about the permission to read the text aloud without recording, particularly according to the limits set out below. Is reading an entire book of the Bible a copyright problem? What about 50% or 25% of a book (as many notices allow)? What about churches that read almost all of Philemon as part of their lectionary? It’s only 25 verses, so it’s easy to read 25-50% of it in one go.
Note that in the US, the King James Version of the Bible is not under any copyright. The cutely-abbreviated World English Bible (WEB) is self-consciously in the public domain. The New English Translation (NET) also propose a more free copyright model: search for “Copyright Innovations – Toward a New Model” on their preface page. Confusingly, they also have this copyright page that isn’t consistent with their other claims.
[New] Revised Standard Bible, National Council of Churches
The [New] Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted….
New American Bible, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, US Council of Catholic Bishops
No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
(See the copyright notice at the bottom of the preface of this online edition.)
English Standard Version (The Reformation Study Bible), Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 2005
Permission to quote from the ESV Bible text must be directed to Good News Publishers….
Looking to Good News Publishers, they include this lengthy notice.
New American Standard Bible
The text of the New American Standard Bible(r) may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of The Lockman Foundation, providing the verses do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for more than 25% of the total work in which they are quoted.
(See Permission to Quote at the bottom of the page, along with the attribution clause.)
[Today's] New International [Reader's] Version, Zondervan
They have a lengthy agreement: read it here.
Amplified Bible, Zondervan
Another lengthy agreement: read it here.