Father Matthew Schneider, a priest with the Legionaries of Christ, urged the CLSA to work with Hedman to ensure the website can continue to function as it has.
“Please find some way to work with Fr. Paul & keep http://canonlaw.ninja operating with the best English translation of canon law,” he tweeted to the Canon Law Society’s Twitter handle.
The cease-and-desist letter demands Hedman remove and destroy all copyrighted material from the website and halt any further use, reproduction, and transmission that would infringe on CLSA’s copyright. It further demands that Hedman destroy all materials, including physical copies, of the copyrighted translation, except for publications purchased from CLSA.
According to the cease-and-desist letter, copyrighted materials include the website’s Code of Canon Law translation, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches translation, and the Dignitas Connubii translation, which is a Vatican document on the nullification of marriages. This would not affect the other material on the website.
The letter requests that the content be removed on March 16, but Hedman told CNA that he was given a one-day extension. He said he will comply with all of the demands in the letter and remove the copyrighted materials by Friday, March 17.
“I fully intend to comply with the cease-and-desist order and remove the content that the CLSA owns, if that is what it comes to,” Hedman said in a tweet. “I hold no animosity against the society, and if I ever became a canonist would plan to join.”
Ecclesiastical documents are often copyrighted, except for older documents that have entered the public domain. According to Canon 828: “It is not permitted to reprint collections of decrees or acts published by some ecclesiastical authority unless the prior permission of the same authority has been obtained and the conditions prescribed by it have been observed.”
Other Catholics have also had similar problems when trying to republish ecclesiastical works and specific translations. Matthew Warner, who founded a church communications software company called FlockNote, sent free daily emails with excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was meant to cover the entire catechism in one year.
He discontinued that practice after he received a cease-and-desist letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which owns the copyright to the catechism.
The English version of the Code of Canon Law is available on the Vatican’s website.
Tyler Arnold is a staff reporter for the National Catholic Register. He previously worked at The Center Square and has been published in a variety of outlets, including The Associated Press, National Review, The American Conservative and The Federalist.