ICEL’s Copyright Policies

Sometimes people tell me that my relentless focus on the copyrighting of liturgical texts – which is contrary to the practice of the whole of Christian history and introduces an artificial legal limit on what by nature and God’s design is a universal good – is really exaggerated, that this really isn’t a big deal in practice. Well, here is some evidence that these policies really are a big deal and have done terrible things to inhibit the spreading of the Gospel and to cartelize the Catholic publishing market. Google’s algorithms rank the page for ICEL’s copyright policies as number 2 in its search ranking on the term ICEL.

What that means is that there is universal curiosity about these policies. Every time a parish, monastery, school, or small publisher wants to spread the good news, it is inhibited by these policies, which are obscure, strange, intimidating, and potentially very costly. These institutions do a search and read this page, which strangely excludes any information on digital print rights (as if the digital age doesn’t exist). It does however include a helpful list of books that ICEL is keeping under wraps, forbidding universalization in complete disregard of Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” The texts have been artificially commodified and for no good reason. If the Church Fathers have used such methods with regard to texts, sermons, teachings, and the Gospel generally, Christianity might never have stood a chance against paganism, Gnosticism, and heresy.

The Simple Gradual, 1968
Rite of Marriage, 1969
Rite of Baptism for Children, 1969
Lectionary for Mass, 1969, 1981, 1997
Roman Calendar, 1970 (superseded)
Rite of Funerals, 1970 (superseded)
Rite of Holy Week, 1970
The Revised Order of Blessing an Abbot or Abbess, of Consecration
to a Life of Virginity and of the Blessing of Oils, 1971 (superseded)
Daily Worship: First Week of Advent, 1972
Rite of Confirmation/ Rite of Blessing of Oils/ Rite of
Consecrating the Chrism, 1972 (Confirmation superseded)
The Roman Missal, 1973
Directory for Masses with Children, 1973
Order of Mass (Musical Setting A), 1974
Order for the Celebration of the Holy Year in the Local Churches, 1974
Rite of Penance, 1974 (superseded)
Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into Full Communion
with the Catholic Church (Second Edition), 1974
Rite of Religious Profession, 1974
Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 1974
Rite of Penance (Second Edition), 1974
The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes), 1974
Eucharistic Prayers for Masses of Reconciliation, 1975
Rite of Penance (Appendix II and III), 1975
Eucharistic Prayers for Masses With Children, 1975
Rite of Confirmation (second edition), 1975
The Ordination of Deacons, Priests, and Bishops, 1975 (superseded)
The Rite of Blessing of An Abbot or Abbess and the Rite of
Consecration to a Life of Virginity, 1975
The Roman Calendar, 1975
The Institution of Readers and Acolytes/ The Admission to
Candidacy for Ordination as Deacons and Priests, 1976
Christian Prayer, 1976
New Musical Settings for the Liturgy of the Hours, 1976
Let Everyone Celebrate, 1977
Music for Rite of Funerals and Rite of Baptism for Children, 1977
Rite of Commissioning Special Ministers of Holy Communion, 1978
Music for the Rites: Baptism, Eucharist, and Ordinations, 1978
Dedication of a Church and an Altar, 1978, 1989
Christian Prayer Organ Accompaniment, 1978
Sunday Celebrations, 1978
Reflections on the Constitution on the Liturgy 1963-1978, 1978
The Roman Pontifical, 1978
Music for the Liturgy of the Hours: Easter Triduum of the
Passion and Resurrection of the Lord (People’s Edition), 1979
Music for the Liturgy of the Hours: Easter Triduum of the
Passion and Resurrection of the Lord (Organ Edition), 1979
Sacramentary: Additional Presidential Prayers, 1980
Eucharistic Prayers, 1980
A Lectionary Translated for Proclamation (sample texts), 1981
Musical Settings for the Liturgy: Hymns and Service Music, 1981
ICEL: The First Years, 1981
Resource Collection of Hymns and Service Music for the Liturgy (GIA), 1981
Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum, 1982
A Book of Prayers, 1982
ICEL Lectionary Music: Psalms and Alleluia and Gospel Acclamations
for the Liturgy of the Word, 1982
Documents on the Liturgy, 1963-1979: Conciliar, Papal, and Curial Texts, 1982
Eucharistic Prayer of Hippolytus, 1983
Presidential Prayers for Experimental Use at Mass, 1983
Emendations in the Liturgical Books following upon the
New Code of Canon Law, 1984
Consultation on a Liturgical Psalter (Organ edition), 1984
Consultation on a Liturgical Psalter (People’s edition), 1984
An Original Eucharistic Prayer: Text 1, 1984
Liturgical texts for the memorial of Maximilian Mary Kolbe, 1984
The Language of the Liturgy, 1984
Liturgical texts for the memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong
Hasang, and Companions Memorial, 1985
Eucharistic Prayer of Saint Basil, 1985
Order of Christian Funerals, 1985
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 1985
Eucharistic Prayer A, 1986
Order of Crowning an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1986
Opening Prayers for Experimental Use at Mass, 1986
Psalms for All Seasons, 1987
Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1987
Book of Blessings, 1987
Liturgical texts for the memorial of Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, 1988
Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1989
Lectionary for Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1989
Liturgical texts for the memorial of Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, 1989
Ceremonial of Bishops, 1989
Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, 1993
Rites of Ordination of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, 1993 (superseded)
Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions, 1994
Liturgical Psalter: A Text for Study and Comment, 1994
Order of Celebrating Marriage (Second Typical Edition), 1996 (provisional text)
The Sacramentary (Revised Edition): Volume One: Sundays and Solemnities, 1998
The Sacramentary (Revised Edition): Volume Two: Weekdays, 1998
Rites of Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons, 2000, 2003
Sections of The Roman Missal
Order of the Dedication of a Church and an Altar (provisional text), 2003
Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism (provisional text), 2009

17 Replies to “ICEL’s Copyright Policies”

  1. Last Thursday I posted a brief musing –

    (very much a "for fun" type of article) that considered whether or not the current delays/ re-workings of the translation by Rome might be an effort to change the translation enough to consider it a "new work" and therefore not able to be copyrighted by ICEL. I guessed at what would happen if Rome promulgated "their" translation and released it from copyright so that the texts would be freely able to be used by all.

    Soon after, PRAY TELL put up a post referring to my post and it generated quite a bit of discussion. Then, later that afternoon, it was gone… all references to it removed. I supposed it was because of my general attitude towards PRAY TELL, but then another strange thing happened.

    Jerry Galipeau had a post at Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray on Thursday about the New Translation as well, and while I don't recall the exact content, it was somewhat an exhasperated and critical post about the process. By Thursday afternoon, it too had disappeared and Jerry will only say that he removed it "and cannot share any other details".

    Just really strange, that's all… both blogs are edited by authors closely tied to publishers.

  2. I don't really think ICEL itself has any real desire to copyright protect the texts. It is their default position, done because that's what everyone does, and ICEL itself says that this is a policy of the USCCB liturgy committee, one it would gladly give up if it could. So I seriously doubt that any text changes are influenced by this consideration.

  3. You and I have had this conversation before. I would say slightly to somewhat exaggerated. I think you hurt your cause by being relentlessly negative on the Church and not positive enough about the alternatives, which many church figures and some publishers simply do not understand.

    One example: you receive paid advertising on this site. I've declined to do so on my site. When I contacted ICEL, they had no problem with my posting music and using their texts, as long as I received no income from it. In a lengthy conversation about the particulars, I was told that if I were to receive income, they would want a share for the work they produced. That doesn't seem hard for me to understand.

    I agree with you that the copyright model is not ideal for the Church to use. But your advocacy is in many ways a mirror of my efforts on sites that disagree with me. Adversaries indeed have good ideas. The problem is to get through the static of ideology.

  4. Todd, I wonder about your last comments to Jeffrey, above:

    "Adversaries indeed have good ideas. The problem is to get through the static of ideology."

    Aren't different ideologies pretty much the reason for two sides in an argument, two different and discrete blogs, or two sides in a war? Aren't they the driving forces behind history? Without them the world would be static and boring. Or it would be heaven.

    To take someone to task for his "ideology" is absurd. Especially in a com box where you are a guest. To take on individual ideas and argue for or against them is another thing and always welcome. Why not just stick to the matter at hand?

  5. Arlene, thanks for responding. It seems you misread my comment. Let me strive for better clarity.

    It was Jeffrey, not I, who brought up the point about his self-confessed "relentless" focus. Jeffrey and I have discussed this many times. I admire his tenacity, and largely agree with his opinions.

    I will confess I brought up another "relentless" example merely to suggest that sometimes we find ourselves on the other side of an impasse. Those who argue against copyright are on the outside, as it were, looking in. But no one would deny on this web site, Jeffrey is on the inside, looking out. What might make Jeffrey open the door might not be that different from ICEL's motivations. Otherwise, there's no reason to wonder why I've gotten a totally different response from ICEL than he has.

    Arlene, please do not presume to suggest I'm "taking Jeffrey to task" here. Please do not make this thread about me. If you have an issue with me, take it to my blog or e-mail.

    There are reasons–maybe not totally polished–as to why publishers, ICEL, and the bishops are holding on to copyright as a model for doing business. I'm suggesting that we should look at these more carefully and tailor our persuasion accordingly.

  6. As a composer, and a budding Catholic, and thus a budding Catholic composer… YES, it's a problem! I can set Latin any time I want…grab a Liber and the Bausano translation book and I'm good to go. But it's difficult to even access English texts, especially those which will not be obsolete in a year. I think that one can support the notion that copyright is inappropriate for the liturgy without necessarily buying the notion that copyright is universally inappropriate. (My own position is on the fence: IP is not property, but is temporarily treated as property through government for good reasons spelled out in the Constitution. As copyright terms are unduly prolonged, IP becomes more like property, which is property in perpetuity.)

  7. There are non-ideological ways to have disagreement and agreement. Not all dimensions of argument are ideological, and in fact many are not, and ideology is not necessary to argument. Usually, it gets in the way of good argument.

  8. Dear Chironomo –
    The decision to pull the link had absolutely nothing to do with Liturgical Press, I can assure you. Upon reflection I came to judge the speculation about Rome taking over copyrights of English texts to be unhelpful. Note that Liturgiam authenticam has directives on the matter.
    Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB

  9. Frankly, i applaud you, Jeffrey, for taking on this issue. Keep talking.
    The idea of copyrighted, mandatory prayer texts is a great stumbling block. Many of us are used to the practice, but it needs careful and swift reform.
    I pray in earnest that you will be able to have your case heard in person by an open bishop or two. This issue needs attention at their meetings.
    Mary Ann Carr Wilson

  10. Fr. Ruff;

    On a daily basis I read plenty of commentary across the board that I would call "unhelpful". Was it the speculation that was unhelpful, or the suggestion that Rome could take over the copyrights?

    BTW, I wasn't offended at all… I just found it humorous that the timings of several disappearing articles coincided…

  11. Fr. Ruff,

    It would be better to have that conversation on your own site, and in greater detail. Of course that isn't possible now, and in the circumstances you can hardly blame Chironomo for his suspicions. This incident illustrates the point that there are few circumstances in which censorship is preferable to free and open discussion, no matter how well intentioned the censorship may be.

  12. I guess I don't see why such a suggestion is "off the mark"… is there some information about what is really going on that isn't being said? In that case IanW is right… an open discussion of the facts would be preferable, and as I have pointed out, I am not suggesting that this is a "fact".

    And of course, things never happen unexpectedly in Rome, and they always make sense and display good judgment and are well thought out, no?

  13. Even setting the Latin is not as simple as “grab a Liber ..”. The Church officially replaced the Vulgate with the Neo-Vulgatus in 1969, Solesmes books since then use the new texts, but the Liber has not been republished, as far as I can see.
    On the central point of copyright of lturgical texts, it seems to me no more appropriate than charging for admission to a service.
    Anthony Hawkins

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