I have requested permission from our friends at Augsburg Fortress Publishers to post some liturgical material from Evangelical Lutheran Worship on my Daily Prayer Delivered blog. Specifically, I have requested to publish an amended version of Responsive Prayer (pg. 328-331 ELW pew edition) along with Propers from the Church Year (including Lesser Festivals and Commemorations – pg. 14-61) and citations from the Daily Lectionary (pg. 1121-1153). That is, I’m requesting permission to post what I’ve already been posting for several months. Shame on me for not doing this sooner. It’s a lot of material that many people worked hard to create, edit, and publish.
This morning I received an email saying that my request was being reviewed. I am a bit nervous about this, and I anxiously await their response.
Copyright law is serious business, and too many of our churches violate copyright every week. From photocopying sheet music rather than purchase enough copies for each choir member, or reprinting hymns in bulletins without proper licenses, we violate the Seventh Commandment all the time.
The Seventh Commandment
You are not to steal.What is this? Answer:We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.
[From Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, in The Book of Concord: The confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kolb & Wengert translation, (c) 2000, pg. 353.]
When we copy or distribute copyrighted material without proper licenses – licenses that provide payment to the creators of the material – we are stealing. Click here for Augsburg Fortress’ Copyrights and Permissions page.
That being said, I agree with Father Chris who writes that liturgical material should be protected under a less restrictive system than our current copyright laws allow. Liturgical material is for the whole church – congregations, church institutions, and the people themselves who constitute the Body of Christ – and as such I would hope that liturgical material could be shared and distributed in generously permissive manner. If liturgical material is being created to facilitate the prayer and devotion of the People of God, we should seek out ways to distribute this material in as many and useful ways as possible. This blog is one such way.
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t fault Augsburg Fortress for requiring me to purchase a license to publish the material on my Daily Prayer Delivered blog. It’s their material and they need to charge a fee for their work – I know! I used to work in sales for Augsburg Fortress! But I also wouldn’t be upset if they granted me permission to publish without any fee, with certain conditions or citations.
We’ll see. I’ll let you know when I hear from the folks in Minneapolis.