Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Divine Office App and Site to Close!

Each  of the  3 major apps for Liturgy of the Hours have had some significant things happening lately--some good and some not.


First and foremost, our friends at DivineOffice.org are having some issues with the permissions for the many texts they quote in the app. This recent post by DivineOffice.org's founder and CEO Dane Falkner pretty much explains it. In short, Dane thought he already had all the permissions he needed, but apparently not. So in three days' time he will suspend sale of the divineoffice.org mobile app until the permission process is completed, and there is no telling how long that might be.

The texts in the Liturgy of the Hours have material that is copyrighted by the U.S. Bishops' conference, by ICEL (International Commission on English  in the Liturgy) and, for all I know, maybe by the Vatican as well. And, although the Prayer of the Church and the Word of God belong to all of us--guess what? The particular translations of these texts are copyrighted! And furthermore, getting permission to reproduce them is not easy. And furthermore, if you are going to make any money at all from reproducing them (and even in some cases, if you are not), the holders of the copyright are usually going to expect some compensation.

I learned this the hard way when I wanted to quote a handful of antiphons and a few other items from the breviary in The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. I had to pay for that privilege. The psalms I quoted were from the Revised Grail Psalter rather than the current Grail version in our breviary, and although I had to obtain permission, the publisher of the RGP was gracious enough to not charge me anything for the psalms that I quoted.  And I also had to contact someone in Rome just to quote a few paragraphs from the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. (again, no payment required--just the bother of writing and waiting for the Okay.)  

I can readily sympathize with Dane in this situation--there could be layers upon layers of permissions needed for the various parts of these texts. It's difficult to be aware of all the t's that need crossing and i's that need dotting when it comes to getting permissions. Besides, a zealous Christian tends to feel that we are all in the same boat of wanting to make liturgical prayer more widely available and loved--we don't expect these kinds of roadblocks.    Someone else I know recently rushed to put a papal encyclical text up on his website--simply in his zeal to make the pope's message accessible to more people-- and got slapped down by someone in the Vatican and threatened with legal action until he took it down.

Anyway, this is important: if you have been  thinking about buying the divineoffice.org app but were putting it off, DO IT NOW. Otherwise you may have to wait for a long  time. I know this app isn't free, but it's a good one and really worth it if you need the audio versions when travelling. 

Update: For these last few days it's available, the price of the app will only be $3.99  Definitely worth it. 

Update: This will also impact the free DivineOffice.org website.  Here's what Dane told me:
The second bit of breaking news is that we have been asked to close off the site to new members. This was very gracious of them to let us support our existing community and not shut us down completely. To this end, in the coming days, we will funnel everyone who comes to our site through a login process to login or create new logins. In a week or two we will close off access to new users.

On the more pleasant side of breviary apps news:

I mentioned several weeks ago that the newest version of iBreviary had significant bugs and pretty useless audio files (in "robo" language) added.  The good news there is that the app (at least my android version) doesn't seem to be crashing very often anymore.

Next, the Universalis app  (not the website version, only the mobile app) has a new option in the Office of Readings. As you may know, there is an optional two year cycle of scripture readings (a year I and year II cycle). You can already access the book/chapter/verse citations for these in an appendix of the one-volume Christian Prayer breviary, and then look them up in your bible. But now, with the touch of an app buttton, these alternate readings pop up for you, no fuss, no muss.

Please add a prayer that the difficulties that DivineOffice.org has encountered will be resolved quickly, so that this excellent ministry may continue to fulfill the hope of the Second Vatican Council, and more recently, Pope Benedict, that the Liturgy of the Hours be familiar to all the laity.





42 comments:

  1. Thank you for your post Daria; personally I find it unbelievable and incomprehensible that those who hold copyright issues for the content of the Breviary and other spiritual material should prejudice an extraordinary apostolic initiative to the detriment of us users, who only want to praise and love God, as He asks of us .
    It's another example of how far the world is drawing away from Our Lord; so what we have to do, is to pray more, and more, and more, and offer each Hour for the generosity and conversion of these people, who put obstacles in the way of the Apostolate. It's as if the "gods-that-are" have never heard that we are in the year of Mercy, and one day Daria we and them, will all have to respond to our Blessed God for our actions.

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  2. I hope this gets resolved quickly, but I don't think it's greed or obstructionism on the part of the copyright holders. It's the process, and it exists to *protect* the material from misuse. Imagine somebody trying to misrepresent the material, perhaps by bundling it with other material that contradicts Church teaching, or otherwise using it in a bad-faith manner. Insisting on a permission process mitigates these risks, and ensures that where the content is used, it is used correctly.

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    1. I think you're right on this :)) I do hope this gets resolved quickly... Brandon Vogt has a proposal on his website, "Free the Word;" maybe we can try writing to the Holy See...

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  3. I am all about following copyright law, but it's ridiculous to throw roadblocks in front of app developers and authors whose mission is to help others learn to pray. Divine Office is my go-to app!

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  4. I use my old fashioned books, but I need the website now and then when I have to transfer to another volume and need help determining the page numbers.

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    2. Matt, I was one of those CCC in a Year subscribers who was dismayed by how that all played out. If you and Brandon with all your (at least in my imagination) connections in high places have not made any progress, I wonder what hope there is? I wonder whether Pope Francis is at all aware of this problem and would be on our side if he was? He has come out in favor of cutting the cost of annulments, cutting waste and corruption at the Vatican, reaching out to the peripheries. All that seems to go hand in hand with this licensing thing.

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    4. OK, on one hand I would favor a CC license for these works. On the other, I believe our response should be respectful and not making it sound like those rights holders are behaving sinfully in not doing it in a way we would prefer.

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    5. I think there is hope. But I do think there are a lot of problems in how the texts are licensed. I don't know the full reasons in this case here with Divine Office they are asking for things to be shut down or removed.

      There are certainly legitimate claims the USCCB and LEV should make to protect their interests (and ours). But the way the most important and essential texts to our faith (scripture, catechism and encyclicals at a minimum) are licensed and allowed to be shared is hugely counterproductive to evangelization, the good of all people and to the accurate dissemination of Church teaching. They need serious revisiting and correcting before further scandal is caused as has been documented here: http://brandonvogt.com/free-word/

      I encourage everyone to read that link and learn what has happened in other incidents and let's all work together to improve this problem. In the meantime, I pray the issues here with Divine Office are resolved positively!

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    6. I'm sorry but this is a minor issue. Buy the actual books if you can and if you can't there are other sources. Not only that but the traditional Divine Office is available online here.....

      http://www.divinumofficium.com/


      The Church has much more serious problems dealing with liberalism, irreverent liturgy and the lackadaisical proclamation of the teachings of Jesus.

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  6. These aps were essential for me to lean what Divine Office even was and were crucial in helping me to become a better Catholic by praying continually. I don't understand this. I am now in formation with the Third Order of Carmel. Granted, now I have the books themselves but in todays world they are stepping stones for those far off to come closer.

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    1. Peg, this is precisely what everyone ought to tell those who hold the copyrights. So many people who comment on this blog say they started out with DivineOffice.org (or another app) because it was a way to try out the LOTH before investing in the book, but that thanks to the app they came to love the Hours enough to want to buy the book, and even in some cases the four volume breviary. So if there is fear about a bottom line (I'm not saying there is but one is tempted to be cynical), it's a misplaced fear. More people own breviaries now than, say thirty years ago, and I'm sure breviary apps are responsible for that increase.

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  7. I'm very sorry Divine Office.org is having this headache. I must remember we still inhabit a fallen world and not all of its citizens are honorable. I guess the next best thing would be to purchase either an app or an e-Book (relatively inexpensive and WELL worth the cost) from Universalis.com. Trial versions are available to make sure you like what you intend to buy. I frequently refer to the app when I'm out and about, and at home, for those times when the hardbound books are cumbersome or not readily available in hand.

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    1. Hi Daria, I just sent a note to Dane Falkner in solidarity with his copyright issue plight. I was surfing around his site, and do you know that he has 2,485 declared contributors, apart from those who probably use his site and don't give. I can imagine that his news is probably affecting round about 3,000 people directly, not withstanding those who might be receiving a call to the LOTH but come across this "Censorship" - Is there something you think we can do?

      PS. Congratulations Matthew Warner on your commentary!!! - it was very good and informative

      I was just wondering if some of us who follow Daria's blog could leave a note of solidarity with Dane Falkner at - http://divineoffice.org/comments/

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    3. Norman,
      Here are some stats for the DivineOffice.org website:
      115,628 Users
      512,599 Sessions/mo
      2,878,901 page views/mo

      This doesn't include apps, podcasts, or radio.

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  9. It's $3.99 at the AppStore, listed at $4.99 at Google play.

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  10. Just chiming in to underscore Daria's encouragement to those who do not yet own the divineoffice.org app. It is simply just a fabulous app. When I bought this app many years ago I paid more for it then than I've ever before or since paid for an app ($15!!) but I can emphatically say I do not regret it.

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  11. It seems to me that the Creative Common license should really be explored for these uses.

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  12. It seems that the app has already been removed from the Play Store. :(

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    1. Yes, I just learned that a few minutes ago. That was not by choice of the divineoffice.org people. The next thing under threat is their website. I'll write about that tomorrow but here's the gist: it will be available for another week to anyone who gets on and registers, but then it will be a closed community. Spread the word.

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    2. Looks like they dropped the hammer on Dane.
      "Dane: Sorry Randy. We were required to remove the app immediately."

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    3. Yes, I just finished another post to that effect.

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  13. To whom do we write? It is absurd that, as Catholics, we're expected to use "approved translations," yet forbidden to use them without legal permission from the USCCB, ICEL or, worse, GIA. As others have said, this is the sin of simony.

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    1. I would reach out to Bishop Coyne in Vermont. He's big into social media and the use of new media; and is on some sort of committee for the USCCB.

      https://www.facebook.com/Bishop-Christopher-Coyne-145944948812289/

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    2. John you said it. Particularly the Conception Abbey/GIA legal arrangement.

      http://bit.ly/23Q9l0M

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  14. I've been using the Divine Office app for years, and it's the only app my husband has ever shelled out money for. It is so good.

    Recently Brant Pitre has been putting up video commentaries on the Sunday Mass readings. They are excellent; he reads them and comments on all of them, including the Psalms. However, just this week, the video was interrupted with a notice that he could no longer *read the Bible passages*. It was clearly a licensing/copyright issue. What is going ON? That someone, a theologian teaching at a seminary no less, can't produce a video where he READS BIBLE PASSAGES? Anyway, I'm wondering if somebody's lawyers ate their Wheaties this week and decided to go after all of the illicit Bible reading.

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  15. Something big is happening but it hasn't been completely exposed yet. I suspect that the recent Supreme Court's decision favoring Google's right to scan and copy books has something to do with the current situation.

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  16. If the copyright/license/permission thing and Creative Common arrangement won't work for us perhaps it's time for us to use books that are in the public domain. Some of these are the King James Version, the English Revised Version, the American Standard Version, and the Confraternity Bible before 1970.

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    1. Michael, Interesting idea; do you happen to know how old a work has to be, for it to qualify as Public domain?

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    2. It depends on when its copyright has expired or if it has not been renewed. Some people thinks it has to 75 years old but sometimes the same work will have its copyright renewed or sold. For a very thorough listing see this page at http://www.derose.net/steve/Bible/EnglishBibleTranslations.html.

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    3. Copyright laws also vary depending on which country you're in.

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