Thomas Nelson sues International Bible Society in Visual Bible dispute
Few publicly traded Christian companies have had woes anywhere near that of Visual Bible Inc., a company that makes video versions of the Bible, using only the words of popular translations. Through various takeovers and bailouts, the company has changed CEOs and boards more frequently than other company execs change neckties. (See earlier coverage of the company's troubles here and here.)
The latest change came back in June, as the company finally climbed (mostly) out of its debt hole and got funding to make more films. Shooting of The Gospel of John, in Toronto and Spain, is scheduled to begin in January with a release date in September. (It's not totally out of the woods yet: in August the company reported a June 30 shareholders' deficit of $1.2 million and liabilities of $5.8 million).
Many presidents and board members ago, the company told CT that it would shoot The Gospel of John using the New International Version of the Bible. Now they say they will use the Good News Translation.
That might have something to do with the company's ongoing legal disputes with the International Bible Society (IBS), which holds the copyright to the New International Version. According to the Nashville Business Journal, the IBS says Visual Bible defaulted on its royalty agreements, and terminated their deal in late April.
Visual Bible and the IBS went to the Institute for Christian Reconciliation to sort out their differences. The institute issued a legally binding injunction, prohibiting Visual Bible "and others in active concert with it" from selling videos.
That's a problem for Thomas Nelson, reports the Journal. Back in early 2001, the publisher struck an exclusive deal with Visual Bible to sell Visual Bible videos in the CBA market (Christian bookstores and the like).
Thomas Nelson says it shouldn't be bound by the injunction since it had a deal with the IBS to pay it direct royalties if Visual Bible defaulted. The Nashville publisher sued both Visual Bible and the IBS to get relief from the injunction.
Visual Bible Inc., meanwhile, says IBS shouldn't have terminated its royalty deal in the first place.
Weblog has said it before, but it's still true: the creation of the original Bible was hardly more contentious.
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