Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Intellectual property

Back in February, Bart Barber discussed in two posts the subject of intellectual property in relation to sermons, books, religious music, etc. I found this an interesting topic. Some commenters brought up things I would not have thought of, I suppose because their experiences are so different from mine. It also brought to mind a song with a "non-copyright" notice -- "When I See the Blood". On number 49 in Stamps-Baxter's Heavenly Highway Hymns below the title: "Foote Bros., not copyrighted. Let no one do so. May this song ever be free to be published for the glory of God."

A Theology of Intellectual Property
Bart Barber: "It seems clear to me that I need to develop some sort of a biblical theology of intellectual property—some systematic approach to the topic that incorporates both a check against human hubris in exclusive credit for what God has done and an acknowledgement of the commandment not to steal."

Brother Bart openly what we should do about some things, like a pastor who copyrights a sermon? Do you believe God guides you and then go a print a book of sermons under copyright? "What happens to God's part" in the matter? What about Christian music?

The route I have taken thus far with the few books and booklets I have produced: I have put copyright notices on them, with the idea of trying to keep someone from printing them in a changed them -- not that I am making money on them, interested in make money on them or have produced anything original. I wouldn't mind if someone took something I've written and printed it and made money off of it (not that anything I would produce would be a money maker!). In fact I would be good for it to get wider distribution. The whole idea is to get the truth out to far and wide, isn't it? The only purpose I see for the copyright notice is to keep someone reprinting with doctrinal changes.

Speaking of Intellectual Property
In this one there was some discussion of "turning church work product into personal largesse". Since I have never functioned as an "employee" I had never thought of this. But, for example, one church's "staff manual" declares any work done on church time -- sermons, writings, books, etc. -- are the property of the church. Or as one person put it: "intellectual property developed on someone else's payroll belongs to the entity paying the person to develop it."

Bart's tentative conclusion
" has the obligation to protect material from wanton modification and distortion by others, many of whom may not be friendly to the cause of the gospel...Copyrights, however, ought not to be abused in order to claim as one's personal creation that which is the work of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, we pastors must beware becoming greedy for 'filthy lucre'."

So I'm wondering if any of my readers have any thoughts about this subject??


Anonymous said...

This all seems to speak of commercialization of the Gospel to me. There may be good intentions to some parts, but there is another element which cannot be denied.

This reminds me of the stance Dr. Jonas Salk took when he developed a vaccine for polio. Many close to him suggested he needed to patent it. He would not even consider it. He said it belonged to the people. We all see what the medical profession has become. Is Christianity not too far behind?

Anonymous said...

Reading this, I can't keep from thinking that the King James version, the "authorized version" is not copyrighted; and man!, talk about distortions and misinterpretation!!

Jeff Woolverton
formerly "Bro. Anon"