I am writing a book about the New Testament and need to quote the Bible extensively. I know the KJV is in public domain and there shouldn't a problem in quoting it, but does that apply to a book that may be published and possibly sold on the open market?

You have dealt with this issue before, but the person who was writing their memoir didn't indicate if they were going public with it, and were creating a commercial product. Does the later use of KJV scripture change any aspect of the Public Domain law?

See below:

Is the King James Version Bible in the Public Domain [duplicate]

This question already has an answer here:

What major translations of the Bible are in the Public Domain? 8 answers

I am writing a memoir and want to use some quotes from the King James Version Bible. Will this be considered Public Domain because of the age.

Thank you

Answer Yes, it will. Quote away, without fear of being attacked for not footnoting what you are quoting.

In the Wikipedia article on the KJV, you'll find the following: "The Authorized Version [i.e., the KJV] is in the public domain in most of the world."

In your memoirs, just make sure your quotation corresponds to the correct chapter and verse. A personal pet peeve of mine is the frequency with which I go to the reference provided in a writing and fail to find the verse that is quoted and cited.

On the plus side, however, that kind of erratum makes me appreciate all the more the miraculous job performed by generations of faithful and meticulous scribes and transcribers who all did their part in providing us with the Bible we have today. PTL!

Any wisdom that you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    Which country are you interested in? The copyright situation may be different in different countries. Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 2:50
  • If I decide to go public with book, I'll do it in the United States. Thanks for your response and insight. It is much appreciated; many of the sources I researched presented unclear information.
    – john byer
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 17:56
  • If my answer solves your problem, please click the checkbox next to my answer to accept it. Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 18:41
  • Unless you type out the words yourself, you'll probably be using an online source for the KJV. If so, that source probably has some citation requirements or suggestions. But as others have said, its in the public domain, except for some restrictions (printing) in a couple of countries.
    – SLM
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 19:27
  • This looks entirely like a law question.
    – aska123
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


The King James Version of the Bible is public domain in most parts of the world. Being in the public domain means that you can do whatever you want with it, including quoting it in a commercial book as you will like. In fact, you can even copy the whole text of the KJV, print it out, and sell your own copy (although since anybody can get it for free, that's not likely to be a very lucrative business model.

However, the United Kingdom and the commonwealth countries have more restrictions. By royal prerogative, only the Queen's Printer, Cambridge University Press, and Oxford University Press are permitted to reproduce the KJV. Cambridge University Press gives permission to use up to 500 verses (with some additional caveats) for educational and liturgical use. Beyond that, they approve usage on a case-by-case basis and generally don't charge a fee.

So if you are publishing in the United Kingdom or a commonwealth country, you will need to make sure that your work follows the appropriate guidelines for citing the King James Version of the Bible. If you quote extensively from it, you will likely need to contact them directly for permission.

If you are publishing to any other country in the world, you have nothing to worry about because being in the public domain means there are no restrictions to how you choose to use the KJV text, including using it in your own commercial work.


In the United States, the KJV is in the public domain, because it was published well before 1922, before which all works are currently in the public domain.

Some countries such as Germany, have restrictions on what can be in the public domain, so the "most countries" bit is added.

The thing about public domain works is that there is no restriction on their use. Even if you are selling the book commercially. Of course, if somebody else quoted the same KJV verses you use in your work, you couldn't sue him because he "stole" parts of your book.


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