Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Religion and copyright

David Bollier on the row over the Vatican's new found interest in copyright:

"You would think that the Word of God, by definition, is something that belongs to all of humankind – or at least that the proponents of His Word would want to give it to all of God’s children, as a gift, so that they could follow the right path in life.


In my informal survey of the field, I now count three distinct instances in which the guardians of one or another religion have claimed copyright protection for their particular scriptures. The latest religion to claim private ownership in God’s Word is the Catholic Church...

While these episodes can be played for cheap ridicule, but I think they point to a larger, more troubling point -- that even many sincere believers in God’s Word are now trying to lock it up as private property. The essence of private property is the right to exclude -- yet God’s Word (at least as I have always understood it) is about absolute love and inclusion. I guess that’s precisely what is being contested."

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