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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bishops block OA to English translations of public-domain Latin texts

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is angering Catholics with its copyright policy on translations of public-domain Latin texts.  ICEL is an initiative of the Catholic Bishop's Conferences.  (Thanks to Gino D'Oca.)  Jeffrey Tucker explains:

...Itís one thing to claim exclusive rights over presentation, art work, or commentary. But the required texts themselves? Surely they are the property of all....

The Latin texts are age old and gift to the entire world. But by authorizing vernacular translations, the texts of Mass themselves become bound up with national copyright laws in which the state collaborates with private producers to create and protect publishing monopolies....

The incredible fact is that ICEL does not anywhere in its policies explicitly account for digital posting or rendering of its texts....This is a serious issue and a major problem that needs to be addressed, and soon....

Creative Commons offers many opportunities for retaining a proprietary relationship with texts (attribution) while still permitting a generous use, even when it involves a commercial relationship, as the blog Cantemus Domino points out. The Catholic faithful have a very strong interest in making sure that ICEL adopts some new policy in this regard....

Update (8/25/08).  ICEL has proposed free online access for sheet music, although with some provisos that may delay the access for several years or require stripping the texts from the music. (Thanks to Gino D'Oca.)