Ethical Concerns of OCP (Respond & Acclaim)
  • When I stepped into my current position, the parish had been using the Respond & Acclaim series by Owen Alstott from OCP for their psalms and Gospel acclamation. While I am currently expanding the repertoire in this area (thanks largely to the good folks at CCW), I am keeping some of the R&A material in the mix -- 1) For the sake of retaining some familiarity for the congregation and 2) there are actually a few decent settings.

    I have had a colleague tell me that once the liturgical year has finished, OCP contractually mandates that you rid the old books.

    I understand the practicality of having the psalms and acclamations laid out as they actually occur for every Sunday and obligatory holy day (which unfortunately caters to and promotes the culture of liturgically illiteracy), but asking you to get rid of the previous years inventory is highly problematic. It makes you more or less dependent on the company and their resources, it fosters the liturgical illiteracy of many parishes and does nothing to elevate them and help them gain that competence, and it is makes itself an ongoing financial requirement (as opposed to a one-time or even three+-time investment.)

    Can anybody confirm or deny that OCP actually practices this as their policy?

    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 414
    It makes you more or less dependent on the company and their resources

    This is precisely their strategy, I would think. I cannot say, though, whether this is actually their policy.
  • tandrews
    Posts: 142
    I suppose that helps get the egg off their face faster with the whole Moroni cover art from 2021 fiasco.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores Jani
  • Yes, according to OCP you are to destroy the R&A in November.
    OCP has made the complete collection of Psalmody available under their other composers but for some reason, Alstott's R&A has remained unchanged since they were first composed in the 70s and still use the old translation of the Psalter from the Lectionary over the Grail/Revised Grail/Abbey Psalms and Canticles. I know these are going to be the texts whenever we get around to finalizing the new Lectionary in the next decade (hopefully) but they've been used by GIA and others since the first translation came about over a decade ago.
    Thanked by 1John_F_Church
  • Thank you, @OrganistRob320
  • MarkB
    Posts: 924
    Even if the dispose-and-repurchase proviso is lawfully enforceable, which I doubt it is, that notice only started appearing on R&A collections starting with the 2016 liturgical year. See the attached graphics of the copyright notice pages from the 2015 and the 2016 editions of R&A to see how they differ. Prior to 2016, the prohibition of use after a certain date wasn't stipulated in the printed editions of the music.

    So if you have editions from 2015 or prior, you can use those without any qualms at all since there wasn't an explicit time restriction placed on their use.

    The music is the same before and after 2016, before and after OCP began stipulating that the printed edition has an expiration date for legal use, so it would seem to me that continued use of music that was previously published without an expiration date is permissible, despite OCP's newly-introduced claim of an expiration date.

    If you want to be scrupulous about it, you could buy editions from 2015 or earlier on Ebay.

    These links might be of interest:

    1460 x 996 - 291K
    1416 x 1076 - 332K
    Thanked by 2John_F_Church Elmar
  • francis
    Posts: 10,354
    If you REALLY want to be scrupulous, burn ALL of their editions and don't support them ever again!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,240
    You could perhaps raise your concerns with Abp Sample. He has ultimate responsibility for the conduct of OCP.
    Thanked by 2John_F_Church tomjaw
  • hcmusicguy
    Posts: 59
    I can't speak for R&A, since after we discontinued Breaking Bread in 2013, we only order a few copies each year for reference as like you said, there are a few good items in there.
    But I can tell you that a previous parish in which I was only involved in music as a student of the parochial school, used the 1988 Music Issue up until 1997. They were replaced that year with the 1996 issue which was used up until around 1999-2000.

    I personally would have no issue with re-using a 3 year cycle of R&A (keeping in mind the dates will be wrong, but that is small beans). You paid for it, use it.
  • @hcmusicguy

    You don't think it would be unethical on my end to actually go against the policy and keep using past editions anyway? Maybe it is scrupulous on my end but part of me also thinks that things that are unjust aren't binding in the first place.

    Anyone else have thoughts?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,379
    In what other world do you purchase music, and then have to destroy it and purchase THE EXACT SAME ARRANGEMENTS all over again?

    Honestly, some of the Alstott psalms are pretty nice (all things considered), but it makes me sick when I think that we’ve payed for the exact same psalms repetitively for 15 years. The books are nearly identical year over year, with only the order changing things up slightly. There’s a reason I joke that we paid for Owen’s lake house.

    I put the kibosh to all of this about 3 years ago and started composing my own psalms and gospel acclamations, which we have used exclusively ever since. I don’t regret it. And I have kept certain copies of old editions without qualm. Especially when I’ve had mine coilbound with laminated covers so they would lay flat.
  • Legal clause or not, surely you could argue that an environmentally sensitive company which preaches social justice should do more than hope you destroy the old copies in an environmentally sensitive way?
    Thanked by 1John_F_Church
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,069
    OCP : Obsessive Compulsive Pirates ?
  • perhaps someone with skill could set a relevant text to Masochism Tango?
  • Elmar
    Posts: 488
    Minor question from a non-resident of 'the freest country of the world': The sentence reads
    Copyright law prohibits use of this publiciation beyond November 26, 2016
    just as if the publisher were merely informing you about some well-established fact. They are not actively granting the buyer a time-limited right of use or something alike... What to think of this detail?
    Is learning a piece by hart and singing it after destruction of the score also covered by "use"?
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,843
    If you have the time, do what the publishers have been doing for years. Change the key, add a few notes, and rearrange the words. Then it is a new work - yours.
  • Elmar,

    Standard legal practice is to state as a fact (what you cite) that which the publisher intends to enforce, if it discovers egregious violations.

    The publication may not be used after that date, but (as you rightly point out) the musical sounds themselves as you sing them, in time and space, can't be covered under copyright.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 488
    Nor can be keeping on my shelf an item that I bought earlier...
    ... or would that be 'using' it (in the US-copyright-meaning of the word)?
    ... would taking it off the shelf be 'using' it?
    ... would opening the book be 'using' it?
    ... would learning a piece by heart printed there be 'using' it?
    And finally: If I sang this e.g. Responsiorial Psalm at Mass, would I be (ab-)using that publication in terms of US copyright?

    If I sang it tomorrow, would the question of copyright infringment depend on whether I learned the piece before or after November 26, 2016? And on whether I did or didn't destroy the book after learning the piece?

    (And I was not refering to restrictions of 'performing' this piece of music - otherwise "musical sounds themselves as you sing them" can be covered as well.)

    [I'm not expecting to get an answer that I as a non-American can understand]
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,968
    So when do we have the short videos about Holy Psalmist vaporizing old copies of Respond & Acclaim while they are being used at Mass?

    Seriously, this is even less enforceable than most average violations of copyright. At least without CCP-style surveillance and social credit scores.
    Thanked by 2MarkB Elmar
  • MarkB
    Posts: 924
    In the U.S., copyright law provides for a religious service exemption, under which any copyrighted music may be performed at a religious service without having to pay royalties to the copyright owner.

    Any copyrighted piece of music may be performed at Mass under the religious service exemption. The copyright owner may not prohibit such a performance at a religious service. However, the exemption only covers live performances, not printing, not recording, and not livestreaming or podcasting.

    The R&A copyright question concerns what constitutes authorized printed copies of the copyrighted sheet music.

    Elmar's questions about what constitutes unauthorized "use" of a purportedly expired printed edition of copyrighted music go to the heart of the matter. The performance of the music is not at issue, since that is statutorily permitted under the religious service exemption of U.S. copyright law.

    Since the sheet music in the annual R&A editions has been virtually unchanged since the 1980s, nobody knows whether the page the psalmist is singing from is from a "current" edition or not, unless they get a peek at the cover art. The Easter Sunday responsorial psalm sung from a 2023 R&A edition will sound the same as one sung from a 1993 R&A edition because the sheet music is the same in both editions. If the response melody and verse psalm tone are memorized, the R&A psalm could be sung by the psalmist from the plain text printed in the Lectionary.

    I think that it's outrageous for OCP to request or expect that parishes will continue paying annually for "new" replacement printed editions of the same music they had purchased one to three years ago. And it's silly for pastors and music directors to spend parishioners' offertory contributions on such a wasteful subscription program, questions about the quality of the music aside.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,354
    I am reporting this to Treehuggers International!

    True Story:

    As a service to my choir I would create weekly 'choirbooks'. It contained the entire contents of selections they were to sing on Sunday which I gave out to them on Thursday night at rehearsal. After distributing the books one evening, a couple of the members voiced complaint that I was using too much paper from week to week. (about 80 sheets for the high Mass for the entire choir, four to six double sided copies per book). I promptly replied that "God made the trees so I could write music on them... the two choir members quit the choir that week and never came back. (Of course they all used wood burning stoves and fireplaces and never gave a thought to that.)

    I then said we need to purchase permanent hymnals because we keep buying the throw away missalettes... they all agreed. However, the decision was made to continue to have both... I really don't think they cared about the trees whatsoever... it was the content that was controversial... chant and traditional hymns.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,843
    Francis, multi-million dollar fortunes have been made by charlatans selling climate snake oil.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,379
    Proffering climate alarm can even garner you an honorary doctorate in theology!

    What a time to be alive.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,354

    please forgive me for being incoherent...

    who is the "charlatan"...? and... what is the "snake oil"?

    (brain not what it used to be...)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,843
    Francis, you know full well who the climate alarmists are. They have profited handsomely.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Elmar
    Posts: 488
    I become ever more confused... if 'performing' a copyrighted piece of music in a religious service is allowed in the US; and keeping a freely available, legally bought object cannot seriously be illegal - what exactly is the copyright infringement after the 'expiration date'?

    Would a disclaimer to a book be valid in the US, saying e.g. "By purchasing this book, you agree to not reading it, nor allowing anyone else to read it, after December 31st, 2025"?
    or even: "You agree to abandoning your ownership by December 31st, 2025"?

    And I thougt that DRM was crazy already...
    Thanked by 2tomjaw hilluminar
  • francis
    Posts: 10,354
    Aha… I skipped over the word “climate”…

    “Climate” will be the definitive lockdown… beware!
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,379
    It takes less energy to gas you than it does to let you use gas the rest of your life.

    That said, the real crisis is the amount of gaslighting going on.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,354
    I have been warning of this time for YEARS on this forum and now it is upon us… JMJ… I will continue in a musical fashion
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,763
    This about R&A how?
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • francis
    Posts: 10,354
    Moderator… please delete my comments. Earth does not have ears to hear… I apologize for any “dust clouds.”
  • As a former employee of OCP, I think I'll just mention that these forums are regularly and routinely read by the OCP staff.
  • Rob,

    these forums are regularly and routinely read by the OCP staff.

    And yet....the company continues to behave as it does. To paraphrase what someone once said to me, "they have ears of concrete, or wills of steel"
    Thanked by 3tomjaw MarkB hilluminar
  • Elmar
    Posts: 488
    ... and are they doing what as a consequence?
    Travel churches to check whether cantors sing a copyrighted responsorial psalm (legal) from a book (that they legally own) which nevertheless (purportedly) constitutes an 'illegal use' prohibited by copyright, so they can sue the parish?
    Just asking out of curiosity, what constitutes a 'freest country in the world' in the 21st century.

    Rob, what do you suggest to do as a consequence of your reminder?
    Move to continental Europe?
  • DavidOLGCDavidOLGC
    Posts: 50
    Let's just add that our local parish church has stopped using OCP products and now is using Source and Summit.

    We also are using organ only at the English language masses, no more guitars.
  • Thank you to those who have offered constructive responses. They made for interesting reading.
    Bashing various publishers seems to be a preoccupation with a few, without actually addressing the question that was asked.
    And yes, Elmar, violations do get reported to the publishers. Cease and desist letters do go out.
    The snarkiness has really increased, even during Lent.
    Thanked by 2Liam MarkB
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,843
    You know, I spent many years in Catholic church music and never bought the first item from OCP with no regrets.
    Thanked by 1DavidOLGC
  • Elmar
    Posts: 488
    violations do get reported to the publishers. Cease and desist letters do go out
    "You will be sued for looking in your old book after its expiration date when you sang the responsorial psalm, rather than in a new one with the same content." ???
    OK, 'owning' a book is an outdated, pre-21st century concept that still persists in the minds of medieval individuals in old Europe... I even 'own' copies of movies on DVD and store documents locally on my computer until this day.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 488
    In practice the question remains (experts ahead, please):

    Is there a case where a publisher succesfully sued a parish for using a ledally purchased but 'outdated' copy of a score to sing a piece in a religious service?
    Or a case where a publisher tried so unsuccessfully?

    What might be the loophole in the parish's defence that making use of this
    In the U.S., copyright law provides for a religious service exemption, under which any copyrighted music may be performed at a religious service without having to pay royalties to the copyright owner
    would effectively be made impossible when you are required to buy a 'fresh' copy from the copyright owner? (unless you have memorised the music before te expiration date of the copy you already bought)

    If this model got standard, that would be the end of building up a legal archive of copyrighted music for your church choir...
    Is this the intended attitude towards contemporary church music in a historic perspective? ...
  • davido
    Posts: 756
    The Source and Summit license is on a similar model, correct? When my subscription ends next fall, if I don’t renew it, everything I’ve printed off from their online planning service is no longer legal for live-streaming, etc?
    Thanked by 1Roborgelmeister
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,379
    Live-streaming falls under broadcast licensing, not copyright as such, hence the need for the license. Really, it’s a totally separate issue.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 210
    The Source and Summit model is actually closer to being a license to use the online content. Once that license has ended, the right to use the content ends. The question with the disposable hymnals is more difficult. Copyright is literally that, the right to make copies. I can buy, sell, trade an original book all I want and not violate copyright as I have not copied the book. The question is whether the publisher (and the law) regards the right to perform the music from the hymnal as a type of license. Perhaps the whole controversy is yet another reason not to use disposable hymnals.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 924
    When OCP has webinars, articles or workshops that discuss copyright, it likes to stress that paying for sufficient copies of sheet music is a matter of justice to composers and publishers. They never bring up whether their subscription model that attempts to coerce (or trick) parishes into paying for newly printed copies of the same sheet music year after year is unjust. I would argue it is.

    Someone who posts on this forum jokes now and then that his parish paid for Owen Alstott's vacation home over the decades.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,379
    When OCP has webinars, articles or workshops that discuss copyright, it likes to stress that paying for sufficient copies of sheet music is a matter of justice to composers and publishers.
    In all fairness, this is indeed true. That's why when one of my hispanic musicians brought me a piece of [OCP] music to play with "PREVIEW PREVIEW" printed all over it, I promptly ordered multiple copies of the real thing.

    Someone who posts on this forum jokes now and then that his parish paid for Owen Alstott's vacation home over the decades.
    That's me, and it's true, and I made the same joke earlier up this thread lol. It must have been a sweet gig for him after all this time; royalties year over year for the same music composed in the 70's and 80's. More power to him! I'm just jealous, lol! Then again, perhaps OCP paid him a flat fee for it way back when, hence their desire to milk it all this time and reap the profits. In which case, I would rather pity than envy the man.
    Thanked by 2Elmar John_F_Church
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,379
    (Coincidently, this is why I've decided not to submit any entries for the Eucharistic hymn competition put out by the USCCB. They take total control over copyright in perpetuity. You get a flat fee and then kiss your work goodbye forever. I think it rather unjust, myself.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,843

    When OCP has webinars, articles or workshops that discuss copyright, it likes to stress that paying for sufficient copies of sheet music is a matter of justice to composers and publishers.

    If we actually gave justice to about half of them we would drag them through the streets then publicly scourge them.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,354

    When one subscribes to a moratorium on a composer or a publisher (which many of us do), it does not interest anyone of us to scrutinize their policies. Our apologies to the OP for seeming like we have a one track mind, but... WE DO!

    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • tandrews
    Posts: 142
    Our apologies to the OP for seeming like we have a one track mind

    It's lent, one tract mind... [purple]
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,407
    One might remember in all a company, OCP pays no taxes. How did they do this? The company was set up as a susidiary to a diocese (Portland?) and is "technically" a church body not liable to taxation. Have to applaud their cleverness, though I am rather surprised that the IRS has not challenged this.
    Apparently it is hard for the mighty IRS to make any religious structure pay taxes. They launched quite a salvo against Scientology and lost. Maybe Tom spoke to Regan, a fellow actor lol.