Washington D.C., Mar 20, 2023 / 13:42 pm (CNA).
Canon law enthusiasts can breathe a sigh of relief. A popular canon law website will continue to offer its content to the public despite fears that it would have to shut down because of a copyright dispute over its English translation of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.
The website, CanonLaw.Ninja, owned by Father Paul Hedman, will be able to continue its operations with a different translation owned by the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland (CLSGBI).
As CNA reported last Thursday, Hedman shared the Canon Law Society of America’s Code of Canon Law on his website for years before receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the organization telling him to take that translation of the Code of Canon Law down by March 17. He was also instructed to destroy all copies on the website and all personal copies unless purchased from the CLSA.
Hedman told CNA that the British and Irish CLSGBI offered its translation free of charge, as long as their organization receives proper attribution.
As of this past weekend, the website continues to operate with the CLSGBI translation now in use.
“The Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland has graciously allowed me to use their translation of the Code of Canon Law,” Hedman said in a Tweet Saturday.
CanonLaw.Ninja, which describes itself as “a resource for both professional and armchair canonists,” includes up-to-date translations of the Code of Canon Law as well as other documents, such as the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. It also offers an easy format and a tool that allows users to search for relevant canons. Hedman created the website as a seminarian because the only other online copy of the code, which was on the Vatican’s website, was not up to date and was not searchable.
Although Hedman initially took to Twitter to express his shock and disappointment over the copyright enforcement, he has since had an amicable discussion with CLSA. He issued a statement saying CLSA has clarified some of the reasons why it sent him the cease-and-desist letter and added that CLSA intends to work with CanonLaw.Ninja in the coming months.
“As it turns out, CLSA itself did not possess the right to publish digital copies online until recently (beginning with the upcoming fourth printing), which led to the desire to address potentially conflicting online versions as the society itself tries to make the code more accessible in digital form,” Hedman said in the statement.
“CLSA is trying to find a new way to work together with me to use and improve CanonLaw.Ninja, hopefully integrating the site with CLSA’s contributions,” the statement continued. “Based on the conversation, I am very hopeful that we will find a solution beneficial to everyone involved.”
Neither CLSA nor Hedman would comment further on the future collaboration when reached by CNA. Rather, they both referred CNA to Hedman’s statement and suggested that further announcements about the collaboration could come in the next few months.
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