Monday, October 22, 2012

Jesus, Rubrics, Football, and Intellectual Property

IP violations at 3:37 and 4:24?

I just read an intriguing essay on so-called intellectual property by Jeffrey Tucker ("A Book That Changes Everything" - from his collection of essays Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo) in which he recommends a seminal book (Against Intellectual Monopoly) on the topic.

This is a timely issue in this day and age of digital reproduction.  Is copying theft?

And what about patents and trademarks, not only of words, but of gestures?

How is it that a young professional athlete can drop to a knee on the football field to pray can now "copyright" an ancient gesture of submission to God?  What kind of a crazy world do we live in?  The athlete has now registered his name with the United States government as a synonym with the gesture that theoretically means he can demand royalties for it.  Now, I understand that the trademarked rubric is not mere genuflection (as done above in this clip from my first Mass (when You Know Who - are we allowed to say his name? - was barely old enough to drive) at 3:37 and again at 4:24 at the high altar of the magnificent Historic Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana), but also involves touching the forehead.  Fair enough, but I routinely do that when I kneel at my own ad orientem altar at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Gretna - as the height of the altar makes it happen sometimes without my even thinking about it.  Should I be thinking about a football player instead of Jesus when I genuflect?

I hope this young millionaire athlete doesn't come after me, my Church, or the Lord Jesus Christ for royalties, or sue us for breaking some kind of federal writ of IP.  Of course, this young man could become the world's richest man if he gets a few shekels every time someone reads Phil 2:10.  And how many other Christian liturgical gestures can be copyrighted by sportsmen?  Doesn't judo involve bowing?  Don't hockey players sometime cross themselves when they hit the ice?  And what about a water polo Ave Maria?

For the record (and may I say "after further review"?), I don't plan on changing the rubric of the Western Mass for the sake of anyone - not even someone as remarkable as a Really Important Football Player with the full weight of the federal law (here all may genuflect) of the USA and the bureaucracy of the NFL behind him.  

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