Nuns and Lawyers
October 11, 2013 by Daniel Nichols
Much to my relief, I received this message this morning from Sister Nancy, who has been threatening me with legal action for using one of her icons in a post two years ago to honor the feast of St Teresa of Avila:
There is no threat of suit. By removing the image you are following the law…which does apply to even icons. There are ancient icons which are in open domain and only those may be copied. I am being obedient to my superiors by managing the copyrights of my work, which they own. There was no insinuation of sarcasm or trying to gain the higher moral ground. Just doing my ministry as directed. Please do not be offended nor generalize this into “all IHM’s” or whatever. I thank you for your consideration in removing the image.
May God bless us both,
Sr. Nancy Lee Smith, IHM
Then, this evening when I came home from work I was greeted with this:
Your (sic) have put a photograph on your blog from my website. This and all on the site, each page, is covered by copyright protection. I must ask you to please remove it quickly. Each page of my site states at the bottom:
“All text, images, graphics, designs and other materials on this website (“site”) are subject to the copyrights and other intellectual property rights of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, copyright 2004. This means no images may be printed or distributed. “
Please remove it quickly. And yes, my attorney has advised me to request this.
Here is my response:
Dear Sister Nancy,
As you wish. Your copyrighted photo has been removed and replaced by another, uh, image.
I see that you were taught iconography by a Russian Orthodox iconographer. I can only marvel that you absorbed so little of the spirit of this sacred art and are so intent on your property rights. Curious for an iconographer, let alone one vowed to poverty.
God bless you, sister. I hope you get every dime you have coming to you.
This has been very strange; I have not interacted with an IHM sister in 50 years. Sort of vindicates my attitude toward them way back when (except the saintly Sr Lorenzo)….