Copyrighting Truth is theft and a crime against humanity!

edit: since my post initially wasn’t that clear about what I meant, I expanded it heavily, the new part is put in [ ]-brackets…
edit2: thanks to Stefania for assisting me in the tracking down and removal of a whole truckload of typo’s…

The title already says it all, and I don’t mean to attack anyone, but it makes me wonder about our whole religious publishing and music industry:

Copyrighting Truth is theft and a crime against humanity!

Any Truth that gives life cannot be our own property, but should be shared with all of humanity! Every grain of truth we stumble upon is not our invention, but something the Almighty has given us. To not give it away freely is to steal from those who need it as much as we do!

Jesus tells his disciples to bring the Kingdom of God:

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” (Mat 10:7-8)

What shall we think then of all our religious publishing?

So how can we as Christians put a copyright on anything that proclaims the Kingdom of God? How can we claim to own Truth about the Kingdom of God, and only give it to those who pay? Do we then follow Jesus more, or Mammon, the false God of the dire money?

Isn’t this blasphemy? All Truth belongs to God! Shouldn’t it be given freely?

Or don’t we believe in the importance of the religous messages that we sell? All those Christian books that promise new insight in the bible, new truths about God and how to live our life to the fullest, and yadda yadda yadda. If it’s true that we have this information, is it Christlike to charge money for it??

Or don’t we really believe in the importance and trancendence of what we have to tell, and treat it like any other information that can be told. Do we believe that God is more important than the things of this fallen human society, or do we believe that Mammon and the ways of this world which are imprisoned by that false God are more real than the gospel we write about, than the Truth we proclaim, than the Kingdom of God? I would say that

All Truth that matters belongs to God and is not ours to make money of, but ours to share in all possible ways to those who are spiritually starving in this postmodern world!

[So what do I mean? I did say ‘Truth’ should not be copyrighted. I don’t say our books are the perfect incarnation of Truth. I may not be a big fan of copyrights the way they exist in this world, but when you write down your own story, it’s evident that you are the owner of that story, and no-one else should be using it as a product to make money of behind your back, that’s just fair.

One of the things I was thinking about when writing this post is a story I once read about Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code, being sued by some guy who claimed that Dan Brown had stolen his theories about I think Jesus and Mary Magdalene living in France. Now, let’s assume for a moment that this story is true… (it’s not) Then the guy claims to be the owner of the truth about Jesus. We have a serious problem if the Truth would be owned by someone, and it would be even worse if that guy doesn’t even care about truth, but sees it as a product to be bought and sold.

Like I said, if it is Truth, it is of God. It cannot be owned or controlled by us, and our motivation should be to share it with everybody.

So if you as a Christian have something that (you believe) has the power to bring people closer to God, you should make that available for all. That does not mean you can’t make money for a living selling your books, but if you really believe in the power of what you have to give, and then make people buy your book, and workbook, and series of teaching DVD’s, and put copyright notices on all of them with warnings that violators will be prosecuted by federal law and stuff, something does not at all fly well with me. If your stuff is that good and essential and life-transforming and yadda yadda, and you’re only willing to give it to those who pay you, you’re robbing people and ripping of God. And the result is more like some kind of scientology-light than the Kingdom of God…

So make your books, sell them, make it available, but if you really believe that you have something that’s important for everybody, you will not only sell it, but also prompt people to share it. You will applaud it if someone else finds a new way of commnucating what you were sharing building on your work.

Because in the end; the Truth in there is not ours, it’s God’s! We, and our works, are just vessels, jars of clay in, and the treasure inside of us is much more than Mammon. ]

What say you?



8 responses to “Copyrighting Truth is theft and a crime against humanity!

  1. This is what makes truth so fascinating: it is not one-sided. Your take on this issue seems to be single minded and you limit it to the question of publishing. Do you expect a Christian baker to give away bread for free? Does a Christian restaurant owner have to offer you free drinks because God is so good? Think again, it doesn’t make sense.
    As a Christian publisher and author I both demand and defend the protection of intellectual property. The definition of stealing is taking away something that doesn’t belong to you without paying a proper compensation for the work some people have done. Paul teaches us to pay the workers in the Kingdom. He preferred to earn his own wages (and so do I) but he was entitled to ask for financial support for his ministry. At the same time you and I -both Christians- share our thoughts for free in the Internet. We don’t use a business model to share the Gospel, perhaps because we don’t need to, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay you pastor’s wages or are free to steal from your brothers and sisters who are working hard to share the Good News through words, music and all other kinds of arts and crafts. Am I right or not?

    • I hope that my clarification clarifies a lot. (exuse my pleonasm) Sometimes my thoughts assume foreknowledge my readers can’t have…

      I like provocative titles, but sometimes I do go too far to get attention… I didn’t intend to attack the things you do in your job, I know you make a lot of good books available to the dutch-speaking world, and bless a lot of people with that, I don’t mean to attack that here on my silly litlle blog…

      What probably didn’t come across even in the edited version is that I use the word Truth for something that trancends our world, something we cannot tame or contain. I’m so clumsy in putting the divergent thoughts that are running to my head into text…



  2. Music and Truth are and should be free. Providing easy access to them, packaging & shipping them is not. Therefore, digital music and digital truth have to be free. Still, money to obtain ease and reliability will be offered and people can make a living of of it.

  3. I don’t really mind that authors get a fair price for a book or other product they have been working on. It’s a bit like the christian baker Paul was mentioning. Problem is: not every book is worth it’s price. There is so much crap on the market being overprotected by big companies.

    What I do detest however is the commercialized Jesus. The totally crazy and outrageous branding of Jesus. Coffee mugs, t-shirts etc. Everything needs to be redefined in a so called christian context. A lot of the American book publishers have that attitude. Especially the big ones.

    It’s the overprotection I despite. The fear of having ideas spread without paying for them. It turned the world into one great messed up market place where everything is protected.

    I really believe it’s time for new business models. Based on trust and willingness to share instead of fear and protection. In a world where hundreds or thousands books are published each week it’s hard to distinguish crap from beauty. (some) Book publishing houses around the world (even the christian one’s) have turned into greedy, stock-holder driven companies where Jesus is just another label for their greed.

    People are happy to pay for quality. I am sure of that. Let the public decide which books or cd’s are worth paying for instead of publishers. I have bought numerous crappy books during my life that I would not be paying for if such a model would exist. The world is changing very fast. Property is no longer interesting, it’s access that’s really important. Property makes us protective and full of fear. Access gives us relief. Access is a lot more ‘Kingdom like’ according to me.

    Look at Spotify for an example. I no longer ‘own’ my music (storing them, being protective) but I now have ‘access’ to them from anywhere in the world on any device I’d like. That’s what I call visionary entrepreneurship! I am happy to pay them my 10 bucks each month. They deserve it!

    Let me be my own judge on quality!

    • wow…

      I agree, and you’ve captured some of my frustrations much better than I did in my slightly anarchist rant…

  4. Love the thoughts here. Somewhat inarticulate myself on this – but it just seems so unseemly to be profiting from the Word. Keep it up.

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