I have been a huge fan and steady customer of Concordia Publishing House. I have read and given as gifts innumerable "Treasuries of Daily Prayer", "Catechisms", and so on. I am seemingly the lone promoter in this outpost, mostly giving things away for free, which is almost a joke around here. Last month I shipped three boxes of books to Africa, all CPH products worth I don't know how much, hundreds and hundreds of dollars. CPH products are my vice.
I am deeply grateful for the work of the editors and marketers. Yet, there are some things I don't know how to deal with.
How "intellectual property rights" affect me.
The answers to these points may not be simple--granted. But the problems are real and what's involved quite profound.
1. When I want to type out hymn verses, I have to check my hymnbook to see if they are in public domain. Many of them are not. So I can't post them here or discuss them. Unless there is a way and I don't know what it is.
Often a Google search comes to this blog looking for Paul Gerhardt songs in English for example. Guess what they are not all in public domain. So I discuss them a little bit and tell people they have to buy a hymnbook from CPH.
2. On YouTube you can get many beautiful Lutheran hymns in German performed by unnumbered choirs, congregations, bands, organists, etc.--a huge wealth. In English--you can get practically nothing. (And people want to promote good hymnody. Something here gives.)
I have spoken with a major Lutheran choir director of a major Lutheran choir and suggested perhaps the choir could perform some hymns and post them to YouTube. Your guessed it, it can't be done--the translations are all under copyright.
So on-line, we can mostly find hymns originally written in English. The English hymns are beautiful, too. Often I think a hymn originally written in English works better anyhow than those translated into English. But if you want them, the translated German hymns are not there. You can get Bach Cantatas and such, but they are not translated. Or the translations are quite ancient and therefore are not copyrighted, and usually not appealing to modern singers.
3. I used to be able to send people to a link under the LCMS website where Luther's Small Catechism with Explanations (basically lists of Bible verses) was available for reading by anyone. Now, it is no longer there because of "intellectual property rights". This is a big, huge loss to the community world-wide.
Many of us do not live in places where you can pick up a catechism. When I travel, I check the bookstores small and large in big cities and small, to see if there is anything available by Luther or CPH. Generally, there is nothing whatsoever. So, most of us, who want to look at a Small Catechism with Explanations, have to order one on-line or buy an e-version--granted that would be much quicker if a person likes to read that way (not me). It takes considerable time to get a delivery. (So, I usually have several available and give them away.)
I grew up and was confirmed in Germany and we never studied the catechism. It bothers me now that nice versions should not be available on the internet. Luther wrote them because there was such a dire need among the poor and the young and the old, especially in far-flung places and the villages.
So much junk can be picked up everywhere and is beamed around the world. I think we need to be more free with our treasures. Somehow. Let's figure it out.
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