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VATICAN-COPYRIGHT Jan-23-2006 (460 words) xxxi

Vatican says it will protect pope's writings, enforce copyright

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican publishing house has made it clear it will protect the writings of Pope Benedict XVI and the copyright it owns over every speech, homily and document he writes.

A storm erupted in Italy in late January after the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican Publishing House, sent a bill for more than $18,000 seeking royalties and legal costs to a Milan-based publisher.

Italian authors and publishers began talking about new, secret rules that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to spread the pope's message.

The Vatican Publishing House said the rules are not new or secret, but they are necessary to prevent pirated copies of papal documents -- texts sold under the pope's name but with no Vatican control over the content and no compensation to the Vatican.

An Italian newspaper said the Milan publisher billed by the Vatican had quoted "about 30 lines" from speeches Pope Benedict made immediately before and after his April 19 election.

But in a Jan. 23 statement the Vatican publisher said the introduction to the 124-page book explicitly told readers, "Everything you will find here, after the introduction, comes from the pen or the voice of Joseph Ratzinger," now Pope Benedict.

The book was being sold for about $12 a copy, and it was published without the knowledge or consent of the Vatican, the Vatican said.

Francesca Angeletti, who handles copyright permissions for the Vatican, told Catholic News Service the Vatican wanted to ensure the integrity of texts attributed to the pope and to prevent publishers from making money off his works without the knowledge of the Vatican and without giving the Vatican appropriate compensation.

Newspapers, magazines and bishops' conferences, she said, still may publish papal texts without paying royalties as long as the texts are not changed and a line is included saying the text has been copyrighted by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Publishers who produce books or tracts reprinting papal texts will be asked to pay between 3 percent and 5 percent of the cover price to the Vatican.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, issued two statements May 31 referring to works written by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and all the written texts of Pope Benedict.

The cardinal's statements were "analogous" to those issued in 1978 by then-secretary of state Cardinal Jean Villot covering the writings of Pope John Paul II before and after his election, the Vatican said.

In addition, a memo written by Salesian Father Claudio Rossini, director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, outlining how the copyrights would be handled was distributed to publishers at the Frankfurt (Germany) Book Fair in October and sent to all Italian publishers, the Vatican said.


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