HAVE AN ENTIRE file in my drawer labelled “OCP.” I’m referring to OREGON CATHOLIC PRESS, originally known as “The Catholic Truth Society of Oregon.” This file contains a number of items from the last decade or so—items such as screenshots and letters—which chronicle behavior by the leaders of their organization which is reprehensible, dishonest, and (at least as far as I’m concerned) unforgivable. I have never felt called by God to release any of this information. I’m too busy with other tasks. Our organization attempts to provide positive solutions; we try to avoid dwelling on evil. However, this afternoon I was sent a message which almost tempts me to release some of my file. Who knows? Maybe someday I will.
No Organ Improvisation? • Just because something is legal, that doesn’t make it morally permissible. Indeed, the United States of America has legalized many acts which are (objectively speaking) gravely sinful. Contrariwise, just because something is illegal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s morally wrong. For example, the current laws of copyright in the United States—depending on certain factors too complicated to explain in this blog article—have the result that a short melody could be legally “under copyright” for something like 150 years. That’s what the law says, but such a law is immoral. Moreover, it’s unenforceable. Indeed, such a notion is a farce, and has nothing to do with what copyright was originally supposed to protect (for a reasonable period of time).
Forbidding Organ Improvisation? • Can you imagine a publishing company attempting to intrude into individual churches to prevent the organist from improvising on melodies during Mass? Believe it or not, OREGON CATHOLIC PRESS recently did precisely that:
Here’s a transcript of the message from OCP, dated 17 August 2023:
Hello, thank you for speaking with me today. To go over the copyright laws (when it comes to improvisation in the church) you are not allowed to change the melody without our approval. You will need to submit a copy of the music changes to OCP. I will have my editor review and accept the changes. You can submit a copy to my email. For improvisation, you can change keys or adapt the original melody, but you are not allowed to change the melody without our approval first. You can submit the live-streaming usage under your One License podcast/streaming license. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.
OCP Takes My Breath Away • The hubris on the part of OCP is breathtaking. Perhaps they’re trying to take advantage of the fact that many musicians are ignorant about copyright laws. Indeed, certain internet forums and blogs spew forth disinformation on a daily basis about copyright—and such authors have much to answer for. Being ignorant about certain laws is one thing. Logging on to the internet and leading people into error is something else entirely.