Wednesday, May 19, 2010

St. Augustine on Restricting Texts and Knowledge

It has take modern scholars generations to come to an understanding of the ethics and practicalities of the use of copyright and its implications for the spread of knowledge. The debate rages today and hits every area of life, from the enforcement of copyright over digital media to the profoundly important issue of whether texts that pertain to liturgy may be licitely owned and thereby restriction by private companies. Under current arrangements, every text that pertains to the new translation of the Mass will be so restricted.

Well, it turns out that St. Augustine glimpsed a truth on these matters. From De doctrina christina

For if a thing is not diminished by being shared with others, it is not rightly owned if it is only owned and not shared.

Omnis enim res quae dando non deficit, dum habetur et non datur, nondum habetur quomodo habenda est.

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