Vol. XLIII No. 4 — April 1965

The Right to Reprint

Conrad Hahn

Every year, in its Annual Report to the delegates from member grand lodges, the Executive Commission of The Masonic Service Association of the United States announces: “Member Grand Lodges have the right to use, reprint, or issue to their lodges all materials of this Association.” This statement seems to conflict with the first notice printed each month on the inside cover of The Short Talk Bulletin (page 2): “The contents of this Bulletin must not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without permission.”

On recommendation of the Association’s 1965 committee on Masonic education and publications, this Short Talk Bulletin has been prepared to explain this apparent discrepancy. One of the matters studied by this committee (Grand Master Irving E. Partridge, Connecticut, chairman; with Grand Masters Roland J. Behrens, New Jersey; Hoyt Woody, Iowa; Arthur C. Hodgson, Kansas; Woodrow A. Downs, Louisiana; C. Fuller Dorr, Michigan; and George B. Ward, New Hampshire) is the use that is made of this right of member grand lodges to reprint materials published by The Masonic Service Association.

This committee learned that The Short Talk Bulletin is reprinted from time to time by various Masonic publications. Excerpts and reprints have appeared in many parts of the world. Since the Association receives very few lodge trestleboards and announcements, it is almost impossible to determine to what extent constituent lodges of member grand lodges use excerpts from The Short Talk Bulletins in their lodge programs and trestleboards.

However, it also discovered that the editor at headquarters is receiving an increasing number of requests from masters and secretaries of lodges for permission to reprint parts of a particular Bulletin in the master’s message or elsewhere in the lodge announcements. Grand lodge committees make similar requests from time to time. It is apparent that such officers are reading carefully the copyright statement on the inside cover of the monthly Short Talk Bulletin.

On the other hand, it suggests that the officers of constituent lodges are not generally aware of the statement made every year by the Executive Commission in its annual report to The Masonic Service Association: “Member grand lodges have the right to use, reprint, or issue to their lodges all materials of this Association.”

One obvious reason for granting this right is the mechanical impossibility of replying to all requests for permission to excerpt or reprint, if even half of the constituent lodges of member grand lodges should ask such authorization in any one month. The Short Talk Bulletin is mailed to approximately 12,000 lodge officers. Even a printed form letter couldn’t keep the replies up-to-date promptly.

More fundamental, however, is the “vested right” of member grand lodges in the publications of The Masonic Service Association. All materials, and especially The Short Talk Bulletins, are prepared as supplementary tools for grand lodge programs of Masonic information, culture, or education. Every year members of the Association vote to have these publications continued. Member grand lodges pay annual dues to produce these materials. The publications belong to them; they are The Masonic Service Association.

The copyright notice that appears in each Short Talk Bulletin, and other publications of the Association, is a necessary declaration to protect the materials against unauthorized use or misuse. Furthermore, the copyright protects Freemasonry against distortion of its ideas and expressions. It secures the “vested rights” of member grand lodges in the publications of their Association. What this Short Talk Bulletin emphasizes, however, is that members of participating grand lodges, whether they be officers, committees, constituent lodges, or regular members are authorized to use, reprint, or issue the publications of The Masonic Service Association, without written permission for each and every use.

However, no professional writer or speaker would use or quote materials without acknowledging the source. Consequently, when materials of The Masonic Service Association are reprinted or re-issued by member grand lodges, their publications, committees, or lodges, the source should be clearly identified, as will be fully explained later in this Bulletin. Such acknowledgment is necessary because a failure to do so may result in unauthorized and distorted reproductions by non-Masonic writers and publishers. Copyrighted Masonic articles must be protected by such an acknowledgment.

The first point to be clearly understood is that the publications of the Association may be used or reprinted in whole or in part, without written authorization, by the following groups or individuals of member grand lodges, provided proper acknowledgment is given:

The second point to be made clear is what “proper acknowledgment” consists of. There is a considerable difference between acknowledging the reprint of an entire publication and merely quoting a part of one.

For example, if a Short Talk Bulletin is reprinted in its entirety, the acknowledgment should come at the head of the article, right after the title. It should be worded as follows: “Copyright, (year), by The Masonic Service Association of the United States. Reprinted by special permission.”

If only a part of a Short Talk is used, the acknowledgment comes at the end: “From the (month), (year), Short Talk Bulletin of The Masonic Service Association of the United States.” The quotation should be exactly and accurately reproduced.

A brief quotation of a sentence or two may be acknowledged by merely mentioning The Short Talk Bulletin right before or right after the quotation, whichever suits better the structure of the sentences into which it is introduced.

If other than a Short Talk Bulletin is reprinted or reissued, the same forms of acknowledgment should be used, except that the date of publication may be omitted, and in place of Short Talk Bulletin, the correct title of the booklet or pamphlet is used. Grand lodge committees on Masonic information or education have used some of The Short Talks as “service letters” to the constituent lodges, their worshipful masters, or lodge education officers. Some of the Association’s special reports and Digests, like the annual chart of Foreign Grand Lodges Recognized by United States Grand Lodges, have been similarly employed. This is one of the principal reasons these publications are prepared — to be used widely within the jurisdictions that are providing this information service for the Craft.

Local lodges are free to use brief excerpts from The Short Talk Bulletins, provided the source is acknowledged. Sentences or short paragraphs from a particular Short Talk may be used by the worshipful master for his messages in the lodge trestleboard. Editors of a lodge bulletin or magazine may do the same. Information in the supplementary leaflet, Your Masonic Hospital Visitor, is also valuable for “communicating” with the members of the lodge, especially at a time when the lodge is trying to make a group contribution to the Hospital Visitation Program. The more this publication is quoted, the stronger this public relations program of American Freemasonry becomes.

Various are the uses to which these publications may be put. Grand lodge officers and committees, lodge officers and editors of official publications are

at liberty to use them within the simple limitations explained above. This is the message that the Association’s 1965 committee on Masonic education and publications wants “to get across” to all the Masons of the member grand lodges.

The Masonic Service Association of North America