English Translations of Chants of the Mass, Livestreaming, and Licensing
  • Our parish currently livestreams one Mass a week and we have a podcast/livestream license. We have been using the ICEL chants in English for the Sanctus, etc. Because of the exorbitant cost of the license, we have decided to cancel it, and purchase and use Noel Jones' "The Catholic Book of Hymns" for the livestreamed Mass. However, this only has hymns. My question is: are we able to continue to use the ICEL English chants without obtaining licensing? Additionally, are there any resources in the public domain/Creative Commons that would be good for the responsorial psalms and Gospel Acclamations? I looked a bit at The Parish Book of Psalms.
    Thanked by 1Brian Michael Page
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 154
    If there’s a question on the mass settings, why not use the Latin / Greek originals? Those must be out of copyright by now. And outside the Gloria and Credo, there should be no problem of comprehension. And you can blame the change in the law.
    Thanked by 1Brian Michael Page
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,779
    ICEL's permission policy is here:
    http://www.icelweb.org/PubPolicy.PDF

    and the last page has their policy for internet use; it's fairly broad, so my amateur opinion is that you don't have to ask for a license, provided that you give the necessary acknowledgement.

    CMAA's "The Parish Book of Psalms" has a cappella settings that can be used at no cost under a Creative Commons license. See https://musicasacra.com/pbp for info and downloadable PDFs, and the hardcover version.

    A list at the CMAA site describes projects in which composers have written settings for psalms, gospel acclamations, etc. Some are licensed under Creative Commons rules, so permission is usually automatic, as long as you provide the appropriate acknowledgement.
    https://musicasacra.com/music/english-propers/
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,224
    as long as you provide the appropriate acknowledgement
    Does this mean that every Livestream requires a "program" of sorts in the video/audio description?
  • I would say the ICEL license as stated on p 25 “Use of ICEL Materials” doesn't allow recording or broadcast. It explicitly prohibits “other form”, and clearly the licensed form is only textual. So you can make copies for distribution or rehearsal, but not recordings or broadcast. I think if they intended to give common license to broadcast of their works they would have said so explicitly.

    (Neither the British or US copyright law restricts the use of works in religious services as such: this is only about copying, recording, and broadcasting.)

    I think ICEL ought to place all their liturgical products outside the reach of any copyright law, because they aren't in it for profit and the canon law already protects the liturgy from corruption and misuse.

    But they don't.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,779
    I've just checked with an Authoritative Source, who tells me that permissions questions about streaming for the Roman Missal texts are up to the USCCB to decide.

  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,344
    For what it's worth, I called the St. Michael hymnal people about thus same question, do we have permission to use anything in the hymnal for live streaming etc? They said thereis no extra cost.
    However we bought a church full of hymnals....
  • However we bought a church full of hymnals....

    Indeed. I would presume this is precisely why. You purchased the rights to use the music and own hundreds of physical copies, and they simply aren't tacking on an extra licensing fee. I doubt they would respond in kind to joe schmoe who owns a single copy of the hymnal and wants to post all sorts of stuff with it. I could be wrong, but I'm doubtful.

    Edit: I should add that this is very generous of them, and not the standard treatment. (I do imagine there is quite the hassle in trying to enforce licensing anyway. There's a reason everyone defers to onelicense.)
  • ServiamScores- one would think that after the parish has invested thousands of dollars in hymnals that one would be able to livestream the music in them in the parish's Masses, etc. It's nice to know the St. Michael Hymnal publisher is so generous. However, we have OCP hymnals, and although we can use whatever we want from them during non-livestreamed Masses, we were told we needed a livestreaming license to use any of the non-public domain music from their hymnal (including the altered versions of texts that should be in public domain but aren't) when we livestream. The licensing service is so expensive that after we read about Noel Jones' new hymnal, A Catholic Book of Hymns (which requires no permissions/licensing) we decided it was best to just buy copies of that and not use the OCP hymnal at all, hence my original post. With all the necessity for new ways to reach parishioners during a pandemic, I'm not sure why churches have not complained that livestreaming Masses should be covered under the same copyright exemptions as live performances in church.
  • I agree wholeheartedly. I think it's ridiculous that we are supposed to report usage to things we've already paid boatloads for. There's a reason we don't have a hymnal anymore and I make worship aids every week (with either self-composed or public domain music). We've also ceased subscribing to the OCP missaletts and have now purchased permanent, hard-bound 3-year missals to go in the pews. The current model is a racket. And while we all know and love Mr. Alstott's psalm settings, that man surely must have a goodly-sized chalet by now. What a delightful system: compose something once and get people to pay for it over and over (and over) again! Sign me up, OCP! I've got a few good things!

    I also think it's ludicrous that the official catholic translation of scripture (and particularly the psalms) required for use in the liturgy is not released either public domain/CC or permitted free usage. (I know, I know... there are limited usage rights permitted as is... at least from ICEL... but it's still restrictive and it's utterly ludicrous we have to have this discussion to begin with.)
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,848
    To be fair, we are in an awkward time of transition. The model which has stood for a few hundred years now, had texts which were freely available but we paid for printing and binding, if that was what we wanted. Then, notably in the US constitution, the moral notion of copyright took hold, and human greed has gradually transformed it from a codifying of a moral entitlement into a tool of Mammon. Which has unfortunately ensnared the Church.
    Now we have a new situation, where printing is available cheaply and ubiquitously, and neither the civil law nor our moral system has evolved to cope.
    NB the system was not always simple or moral e.g. Tallis, Byrd and the monopoly of music printing.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,009
    Not to mention that in Britain, the Monarchy owns a perpetual copyright on the King James Version.
  • 1. Simplest solution is to not livestream.
    2. Remember that texts are copyrighted separately from music, so even if you are doing all public domain music, the lectionary readings are also copyrighted and cannot be broadcast or recorded without permission.
    3. If you do livestream, use only public domain music, which would necessitate only singing Mass parts in Latin.
    4. You could also not livestream, but simply record and edit out all the copyrighted material before posting online--which would leave only the homily and any public domain music.
    5. You can pay a lot of money for a license to do everything by the letter of the law, which also requires the requisite reporting, etc. A lot of work.
    6. Do whatever you want and hope not to get sued. Chances are, the USCCB won't sue a parish for livestreaming a Mass, but there's always a chance.
    7. Seriously reconsider option 1 and save a lot of money, time and headaches.
  • 3. If you do livestream, use only public domain music, which would necessitate only singing Mass parts in Latin.

    This is false. There are plenty of other things that are PD or permitted free usage.
    Thanked by 1mattebery
  • This is false. There are plenty of other things that are PD or permitted free usage.


    Not False.

    I was referring specifically to the words of the Mass. The Roman Missal as well as the Lectionary in English is copyrighted. While I'm not aware of the USCCB or ICEL suing anyone for livestreaming a Mass, they technically could if they wanted to. While there may be musical settings that are in the Creative Commons or Public Domain the texts themselves are not--though they should be.

  • You said "use only public domain music". That is not the same as the lectionary or translations of the missal.

    There is plenty of public domain music, & that includes settings of the ordinary in the vernacular.

    One could perhaps quibble about the translation of the gloria, but that's about it. Even with my rudimentary Latin I can translate the Sanctus and Agnus Dei quite literally. Essentially, there is only one way to translate it; it just depends on if you use KJV english or quotidien english. There's only one way to translate the Kyrie. It's hard to call fowl on people using these texts in the vernacular.
  • I said use only public domain music (assuming you don't want to pay for a license). The point is the music and texts have to be considered separately. Yes there is plenty of good public domain (or creative commons) music that could be used. But we have to use approved translations of the Mass texts. One could not do their own translation or use a traditional translation such as "Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world." For a concert that would be possible, but for Mass, one is bound to use only the approved translations in the Missal which are copyrighted.

    Like I said, it's unlikely that the USCCB or ICEL would sue a parish for livestreaming Mass without first seeking permission to do so, but it is possible according to the letter of the law.

    Consider that Lumen Christi was able to post "free scores" online using the Revised Grail translation of the psalms, because GIA had given them permission to do so. But now that they are using the Abbey Psalms which are owned by the USBBC they have to put them behind a paywall.

    In my opinion, the words of the Missal, scripture translations and any other official liturgical texts should be placed under Creative Commons. That still protects the texts from unauthorized changes, etc. but it allows the Church to use the texts without having to pay for them. Consider how difficult it is for an individual to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. What if a parish actually wanted to have Sunday vespers prayed in common in the parish. There's no easy (or inexpensive) way to do this with the current copyrighted texts.
  • In my opinion, the words of the Missal, scripture translations and any other official liturgical texts should be placed under Creative Commons. That still protects the texts from unauthorized changes, etc. but it allows the Church to use the texts without having to pay for them.
    Yes, yes, and more yes.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 398
    it's unlikely that the USCCB or ICEL would sue a parish for livestreaming Mass without first seeking permission to do so, but it is possible according to the letter of the law
    Has anyone ever tried it out? Would be worth the case...
    Lumen Christi [...] now that they are using the Abbey Psalms which are owned by the USBBC they have to put them behind a paywall
    Not necessarily, they could publish the music for free and give it a footnote:
    Psalm xxx, English translation (c) USCCB.
    but for Mass, one is bound to use only the approved translations in the Missal which are copyrighted
    Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature - and have them pay you a copyright fee for subsequent use
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,779
    they could publish the music for free and give it a footnote:
    Psalm xxx, English translation (c) USCCB.

    I haven't found anything in the USCCB's permissions policy that allows for that. Can you confirm it?
  • The USCCB allows for the readings to be live-streamed, but they must be cited in the description.
    While that Onelicense coverage will cover hymns from MOST hymnals, GIA, OCP and their ilk, it will not necessarily cover choral music, or organ music that is still under copyright.
  • mailto:catholiccurrent@usccb.org
    The above is the email address to which I addressed my concern and received a very prompt response, informing me that there is no end date on the free use of the texts from the USCCB.