Friday, January 23, 2009

New home for CyberHymnal

One of my goals here is not just to provide information on hymns, but where to find such information. On the righthand side of the blog I've been listing links to some well known resources.

In response to my post earlier this month on the TEC/Continuing Anglican property fight, hymn blogger Leland Bryant Ross posted a (slightly off-topic) comment about the current dispute over CyberHymnal. (Last month I linked to Ross’s blog post about Christmas carols, but I don’t link to his blog on the right side because we generally have divergent goals, in opposite corners of the church music 2x2.)

In his comment early this morning, Ross wrote
It is my hope that you will see the parallel between the unfairness of the court's decision, in this matter, and the unfairness of the ISP's hijacking of, and that you will change your links to The Cyber Hymnal™ to point to its true current location at rather than, as you currently have it, pointing to the ISP that stole the domain name from the actual hymnalist.
Actually, I don’t see much of a parallel, but that doesn’t mean that I’d want to see important content hijacked.

From what I can find right now, this looks to be one of those he said, she said conflicts. The new home doesn’t say much about the conflict
Many have asked what will hap­pen to the do­main name “” the le­gal owner (Word.Net) is un­will­ing re­lin­quish it, so we can’t use the old URL. In ad­di­tion, our site search fea­ture will not be ful­ly func­tion­al un­til search en­gines have had time to re-in­dex the site at its new URL.

Please spread the word about the new URL & ask Web sites to up­date their links! God bless…
The most detailed discussion I could find of the dispute was in a series of reader comments to a Dec. 26 posting to the Reformed Angler, which includes a few readers who say they’ve corresponded with the anonymous (pseudonymous) CyberHymnal founder.

Taking the discussion as face value, it appears that some company at will have the old content (perhaps with new organization), and another company (possibly aided by the original founder) will have the old content and newer content at Of course, the former will get all the website traffic and links for many years. The latter is calling itself TheCyberHymnal™ to create a new brand distinct from CyberHymnal.

I don’t know much beyond that: perhaps the full story will come out over time. Given that is offline for now and TheCyberHymnal is developing new content, at Leland’s suggestion I’ve changed the link to the latter.


Leland Bryant Ross said...

Thanks! The parallel (as I see it) to the Diocese of LA issues (as you have laid them out in Anglican Music) is "someone (the cyberhymnalist, or faithful conservative Episcopalians) spent years building up an accumulation of wealth (church property, or [a domain name for] a 7300-hymn hymnal w/ companion) and now someone who has legal but not moral ownership of that wealth (Word.Net and/or the current TEC hierarchy) is going to benefit from the saints' labors while the saints' moral heirs have to start from scratch (at least as far as domain name familiarity goes). At least to me it looks like a parallel of sorts.

It's summed up fairly well in this comment at the Reformed Angler, which I had not previously seen. Most of my crisis-line discussion on the subject was at the folk music site, the Mudcat Café.

Despite our divergent opinions, I do appreciate your blog!

9.West said...


With your additional explanation, I agree there's a moral parallel, even if not a legal parallel.

However, the church issue is tied into a legal issue of centralized vs. decentralized authority. A Presbyterian church would never think of a central church owning the buildings; a Catholic church would never consider anything else. Us Anglicans, being "Reformed, Catholic" are torn.

If the TCH issues are as presented, this looks more like theft or at least "finders, keepers, losers, weepers." The ISP would have no legal argument to the content other than abandonment.


Leland Bryant Ross said...

But The Cyber Hymnal™ has always made a point of all its content, except a few hymns that they had permission to post from Hope, being in the public domain, which means that the ISP has as much right as anyone else to keep a copy of the stuff, and apparently a legal right to keep the domain name (my impression is they already had the domain name a few years back, and used it to lure the CyberHymnal to their lair). I am not clear if it is actually Word.Net or some third party that is the antichrist here, but somebody will have something to answer for at the judgment ;-)

As a Baptist, of course I'm with the Presbyterians* and, in this case, the Anglican secessionists, on the parish property issue, though I imagine the courts are being legalistically "just" in going with the diocese.

Leland aka Haruo

*actually I think the Presbies generally have their real estate owned by the Synod or some other superparochial body

9.West said...

Clearly the CyberHymnal author should have used a Creative Commons license such as Attribution Share Alike.

But to claim rights, (s)he would have to say who (s)he is.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Actually I once knew who he was. There are a few of his own hymns in the Cyber Hymnal's roster, but I don't recall his name offhand. I think he may have had a copyright notice on his own stuff, and of course the ISP could be sued if they posted his stuff or the things from Hope...

Leland aka Haruo

Frank said...

Regarding the Cyberhymnal and copyright law, even though the content was in the public domain, the fact is the author holds the copyright on the site content, if not on the lyrics themselves.

In other words, over the last 12 years, the work he did in building the site, typing out each page, creating the computer code, etc. It really doesn't matter if he had a copyright notice or even a licensing agreeement posted. Copyright law is very clear, assuming he was in the US.

For the individual in charge of this so-called "" company to co-opt this content and then use it for his greedy gains should be an affront to everyone (even though the front page is gone, if you search on popular hymn names on Google, you'll still see the old pages, but with advertising--this is illegal no matter how you look at it).

Why the original author isn't at least issuing a cease and desist to this company for using the work of his hands for their profit without his permission is beyond me. I hope he does speak up so that those of us in the Internet community on his side can support him.