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Should WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) be restricted by lucrative copyrights?

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posted on Apr, 12 2011 @ 02:08 PM
I was just reading Brand Name Bullies: The quest to own and control culture (David Bollier: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.: 2005).
I've always been fascinated by religious texts and who owns what copyright e.g., the King James Bible and the British Royals, going back to the Vatican via the Anglicans. Perhaps also Christian hymns and songs.
Ultimately these things should be for the service of "the Lord", and freely used - or not so?

The book has a whole chapter on the disputes over acronyms, like WWF (Wildlife Fund or Wrestling Federation? Well, the "panda-lovers" won the 2001 court case, and the wrestling "mayhem lovers" had to drop the label: p.215).
However, Bollier points out on the Christian "WWJD" acronym:

An account of dueling acronyms cannot fail to include the battle over "WWJD", which stands for "What would Jesus Do?" The phrase had its origins in the 1890s, coined by Congregationalist minister Charles Sheldon as a part of a series of rousing sermons. ... The sermons were later collected in a book and published under the title In His Steps. Because of a copyright mix-up (the magazine in which the sermons were originally published was not copyrighted), the inspirational book became a public domain title.

The material was published in 20 languages and sold 10 million copies via 80 publishing houses.
The problems arose when a church youth group leader, Janie Tinklenberg came up with the idea of WWJD bracelets to inspire teenagers to live more spiritual lives. Soon the idea led to a multimillion-dollar fad, including 16 million bracelets and an array of of T-shirts, pencils and other merchandise.
In 1998 Tinklenberg applied for a trademark on WWJD jewelery .Others won trademarks for the acronym in videos, concert tours and "dozens of other products". (P. 216)

But what ethical problems did the irony of the bracelet's message underline?
What would Jesus really have done?

This situation raised some interesting ethical questions for the Christian merchandising industry: Would Jesus have tried to claim a property right in "WWJD" or would he have been pleased to see the term spread freely through the air, without restriction? Would Jesus have tried to cash in, the better to help his ministry, or would he have tried to cash in outside of the marketplace? The Christian merchandising sector had certainly made its own judgment on these issues.

Well, it seems religion is just a market with capitalist artifacts.
I cannot say how much anyone cashed in personally, but a lot of cash went somewhere.
Does that mean I cannot make my own WWJD bracelet and sell it for a donation?
Was this whole business ethical?
edit on 12-4-2011 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 12 2011 @ 02:32 PM
I was very surprised to read this, because I know some people making "WWJD" bracelets in African bead-work.
If I meet them again, I guess I should inform them it might be illegal.

In any case, I think Jesus made this all free: hymns, books and other paraphernalia.
I understand that people need to eat, but at best that should involve a diminished copyright?
If people are profiteering or "prophet-eering", I guess it's no longer Christian?

posted on Apr, 12 2011 @ 02:48 PM
Well, I guess it couldn't be any worse than Hilton's 'That's Hot' copyright.

Seriously, though. I think it's OK. Christians have to protect their businesses as well. And I have no problem with Christians copyrighting their art, music, books, etc.

I think the only reason I would get pretty upset at them is if they pulled some sort of Right Haven stunt and went around filing petty litigation and sued other people who also wanted to spread a spiritual message with the slogan.

I don't see it as being along the lines of the 'Put your money in the bowl for Jesus' types. They are creating a product, protecting their rights under law (don't remember Jesus saying anything against that), and reaping the rewards of their labor (also biblical).

It's not my preference but no reason to fault someone who chooses such a route. For instance, I have written a lot of Christian articles and am emphatic that readers may pass them along for free. But I would have no issue with those who also write Christian articles yet copyright their work or even make it available for sale.

As long as their heart is in the right place and they don't go all Right Haven on others, then they need to eat, too, and are protected by law as well.

I'm sure it would also be scary to invest your life savings into a business venture, have someone else come and steal the copyright (not necessarily a Christian group), and you are put out business all because you didn't legally protect yourself. Or a situation where someone UNSCRUPULOUSLY uses the copyright for things against your message, as some blasphemous playoff of WWJD.

Jesus never said we didn't deserve to be protected under the laws of the state.
edit on 4/12/2011 by AshleyD because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 12 2011 @ 03:22 PM
reply to post by AshleyD

Nice post and sentiments!
However didn't Jesus also divide what "belongs to the Lord" from "what belongs to Caesar" (the state)?
If you produce something for the Lord, that money goes to Him?
So, if many Christians need to eat, they are the body of Christ, and whatever Biblical they reproduce is not copyrighted in my opinion.

posted on Apr, 12 2011 @ 03:28 PM
The irony is that masses of various Christians might silently approve my point against copyrighting religion.
The fact is however that the opposite is happening.
Much of it is copyrighted.
So isn't it a conspiracy when mass understanding goes against minority leanings?

But who knows?
Maybe Jesus was a capitalist?

posted on Apr, 12 2011 @ 04:11 PM
I mostly just see it as a form of legal protection. As in, I have never, ever heard of those who hold the copyrights to the NIV translation actually sue someone or offer a cease and desist order because somebody quoted NIV passages.

Or a Christian musician suing for royalties because a church congregation sang one of their songs. lol

If that ever happened, then that would be outrageous and I would question where their heart truly is. But because I have never heard of issues like that, then I don't mind.

It all goes back to what I said before. What if the WWJD people were naive enough not to file patents, trademarks, and copyrights, invested their life savings, donated proceeds to soup kitchens, then an anti-theist organization snatched it up and started a business using that? And WWJD was then purposely distorted into standing for something like 'Where Would Jesus Dump?' with toilet images? THEN the WWJD people get sued and have to close their business down.

There are so many reasons, IMO.

Yes? No? I think the laws are there for a reason and that is to protect Christians as citizens just like everyone else.

posted on Apr, 12 2011 @ 05:19 PM
reply to post by AshleyD

Which of course begs the question: if Christians are citizens like everybody else, then why the extra label?
A lot of Christians want to prove that they are indeed not like everybody else.

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