Last weekend (16-18 September 2011) was the 2011 creative commons global summit. I am far away from anything like having expertise in creative commons, but I am really taken by Mary St George’s comments suggesting that liturgical texts be made available using creative commons rather than copyright (see here and here).

I support and advocate that liturgical texts, the Lord’s Prayer, the scriptures, the Psalms are or ought to be owned in common, shared between us. I have real issues with, for example, the Roman Catholic Church requiring the use of a specific translation and then copyrighting that translation so that it cannot be made available in the variety of ways of our contemporary world. I have previously written here about the fiasco of our NZ Anglican copyright history where we lost control of our own texts and where the current situation is still not formally presented anywhere I know of.

Get with some good capitalist theory here, people. No one has produced a better quality New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa than Genesis. In comparison, the 1997 Harper San Francisco edition of the same book is, to put it very politely, just plain rubbish. You want to print the book – go ahead and print it. Not because we are fighting about who has the copyright. Not because “the Common Life Liturgical Commission has given Genesis permission to print this” – I’ll certainly still be purchasing from Genesis until I see something better (which I highly doubt!). Welcome to capitalism. Why wasn’t it online years ago?! I’ve got the TEC BCP on my iPod and iPad. Where is the NZ Prayer Book ap?!

You cannot pray the RC Office online – because of copyright! The RC office is online in an “unofficial” translation – but because it is not the accepted translation, those obligated to pray the office (ie. most of those who actually do pray it) cannot use the online version, as using it does not fulfil their obligation!

As I said, I’m certainly no expert on either copyright or creative commons, but I know that copyright has worked against us, not for us, and is contrary to the principles of liturgy. Texts, books, and articles about liturgy – sure, there may be a place for copyright in those cases. But that the NIV Bible is owned by Rupert Murdoch – should give anyone purchasing the NIV a moment to pause!

From Mary St George:

Creative Commons Licensing has several categories, and I think attribution and share alike would probably be the most appropriate. Users would be obliged to attribute the Prayer Book to our church (or at least those aspects of it that are not so derivative and traditional as to correctly belong in the public domain). Share alike means that anything re-used must also have a Creative Commons License. It cannot be reused in a document with a copyright. See more at and which offer comprehensive information. There is a quick summary at, and information in cartoon form here that offers a really good initial explanation.

Oh and yes, you guessed it: that ugly-as 1997 Harper San Francisco edition of the NZ Prayer Book – that’s owned by Rupert Murdoch too.

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