Seriously? The Vatican has just declared the Pope a legally protected icon. Don’t you dare use it in a cartoon, you vandals, or slap the holy name up on your soap-on-a-rope to gin up extra sales from the gullible.
The Vatican made a declaration on the protection of the figure of the Pope on Saturday morning.Â The statement seeks to establish and safeguard the name, image and any symbols of the Pope as being expressly for official use of the Holy See unless otherwise authorized.
The statement cited a “great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father” in recent years as contributing to a desire to use the Pontiff’s name for all manner of educational and cultural institutions, civic groups and foundations.
Due to this demand, the Vatican has felt it necessary to declare that “it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church.”
The declaration alludes to attempts to use ecclesiastical or pontifical symbols and logos to “attribute credibility and authority to initiatives” as another reason to establish their “copyright” on the Holy Father’s name, picture and coat of arms.
“Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff… and/or the use of the title ‘Pontifical,’ must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See,” concluded the message released to the press.
How could I resist? I had a pen and the back of an old envelope, so I had to draw an official pontifical caricature. I suspect the Vatican is much more concerned about the fact that they aren’t raking in a cut on the money-making uses of the papal image than about satirical uses (although you never know — they’re a thin-skinned lot over there), but still…I had to get a lick in, with a completely unauthorized picture of the pope waving a big stick and waggling his spirit fingers at the world. In a small gesture of respect, I did take pains to draw his penis completely condom-free.
(via Infallible Failure)
Kathy Orlinsky says
Does anyone reading this NOT have an urge to draw the pope?
Abdul Alhazred says
Does this also affect the use of funny nicknames such a “The Zinger”? :)
I think George Lucas should actually sue the RCC for stealing Palpatine from him…
The Science Pundit says
You forgot the blood-stained fangs.
Benny Hex is a copyrighted church icon? Jeepers!
But PZ’s sketch is too generic. It could be any miter-wearing prelate. That includes all bishops and cardinals in addition to the pope. Besides, Catholic clerics usually wear sumptuous robes and PZ’s caricature is obviously naked.
Glen Davidson says
Satire, of course, is protected under US Trademark and Copyright law.
And it makes sense to protect it. For one thing, it prevents people from using it for fraudulent purposes.
The Pope woke up early one morning with a huge erection. Thinking that it wasn’t very Catholic, he tried to get rid of it. Unfortunately, walking around the room, thinking about the Bible and even getting some fresh air on the balcony all failed to soften him up. With only one option left, he sat down on the balcony and did what needed to be done.
Later, he was walking around Rome when a man with a camera approached him. “Hello, Mr Pope,” the man said. “Six o’clock this morning, on the balcony, I think you know what I’m talking about.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean,” the Pope replied.
“Oh, I think you do,” the man retorted, “and 50 thousand will buy you the camera.”
Worried and confused, the Pope paid up and took the camera.
Back in the Vatican, one of the Pope’s aides asked about the camera. “A chap in town sold it to me for 50 thousand,” the Pope explained.
“50 thousand?!” exclaimed the aide. “Wow, he must have seen you coming.”
Reminds me a little of how Scientology has their symbol copyrighted.
Glen Davidson says
By that I mean, of course, that your right to satirize the Pope, corporate icons, etc., is protected under the 1st Amendment.
It’s not something that seriously detracts from free speech, IOW.
vanharris, that’s called “practicing his celibacy.”
The Pope has no clothes. How…appropriate.
A little off topic… http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ needs a little dose of reality from the folks here. (re: Joseph and Mary billboard)
Sven DiMilo says
I do like the detail lavished on his Pradas.
That’s just silly. How much legal weight does such a declaration have in the US? Atheists should copyright their symbol and demand payment for every keyboard, printer, etc who uses the letter “A”.
But I’ll do the RCC one favor, I won’t use the phrase “the Pope” anymore. I’ll call him by his real name Joey Ratz. That sounds tougher doesn’t it? Like someone who won’t put up with child molesting priests and who dumps said priests in the Mediterranean with cement overshoes.
If you read the original article, you could just be paranoid enough to think that what they mean to do is control any mentions / press releases they don’t like. Such as, for instance, stories about priest buggering children…….
If the story mentions the pope or the vatican or possibly even the catholic church, and you take this crap seriously, you’d have to have the poop’s permission to publish.
But I’m not that paranoid…..nope…..not me
Naked Bunny with a Whip says
Does this mean I have to take down my Popemas tree?
Peter G. says
Where are the fangs dripping with blood? You’ve got to have fangs dripping with blood. Otherwise that figure could be any bishop.
Well that’s just pontiferiffic!
Somehow – the slogan: “Why buy into a lesser evil” came up in my head…
Does this mean the Vatican is planning their own range of papal action figures?
I thought copyright was for images and works already created. You can’t copyright someone elses depiction. Imagine if Ansel Adams copyrighted all future images of the national parks.
They could trademark the likeness, but that would not do what they want either. What they want is to outlaw parody and satire of the Pope. They can only do that by outlawing parody and satire.
Well, darn. There go my plans for selling a pope-face Halloween mask.
Only one critique of your illustration… where’s his gaudy dress? ;)
if they could sue over a cartoon then american atheists might want to check and see if their recent winter solstice greeting card is in violation …would be odd if american atheists suddenly got sued by the Catholic Church for copyright violations… yikes http://atheists.org/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=332
note image in lower left hand corner of card LOL
Can anyone photoshop the Pope’s face onto this?
Seriously, does this make the Pope the new Mohammed? Someone should inform the Dutch.
If they were serious they wouldn’t have misspelled Pope™.
Meh. Like I’d ever want to use an image of the guy aside from satire. Is this for the money? Don’t they have enough?
Moggie @ #21
Just reminds me of Eddie Izzard, I think in Dress to Kill talking about the superhero duo of Pope Man and Altar Boy.
Playset complete with Popemobile and jesus discs for throwing at your enemies.
Nice drawing but where’s the dress the pope likes to wear?
Indeed. Many a latrine requires the Pontiff’s name just inside the foundation.
@Glen D: Surely you mean, other people also using it for fraudulent purposes? Considering the Catholic church is probably the single biggest fraud perpetrated on the human race?
I’m pretty sure this attempt will go nowhere under U.S. laws. I can’t speak for elsewhere.
Didn’t the bible mention something about not setting up icons to worship? Seems like copyrighting the pope’s image/seal kinda does that…
Not that Catholics weren’t already heavily invested in iconography worship!
vanharris explained the pope’s state of undress in a previous comment.
Under what law are they declaring this “legal protection”? Or is this just another rule that has no authority except over those who choose to follow it?
He has such an angry expression on his face. Did somebody, somewhere in the world, just have sex and enjoy it?
Anyone else getting a Scientology vibe from this?
They use copyright aggressively to control who can say what about their organization.
Eamon Knight says
Not to defend the Catholic Church, but the way I read that article, the intent is to prevent some random con-artist from, say, marketing some religious gimmickry and claiming that the Pope endorses it. The Church, you see, wants a monopoly on the con-artist-marketing-religious-gimmickry niche. It’s called “protecting the corporate brand”.
It should go without saying that news, commentary and satire are protected usages — but expect Bill Donohue to be threatening copyright suits against Pope-mockers by this time next year.
Free Lunch says
So the Roman Catholic Church wants to make The Pope® into a trademark like The Superbowl® and The Olympics®. Yep, just another bloated product which has completely missed the value of the original purpose. Maybe the RCC will have The Pope® brought to us by our favorite commercial products soon.
Maybe entire services will be sponsored by the local car dealers and Wal*Marts.
Lousy depiction PZ. Was too much muscle tone. Should have used a thinner marker.
Nice eyes though. Angry and sunken. I like that part.
Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM says
All of this must never die
Popemobile to Paraguay
What the guy said about parody above. It proves the Pope has new things about which he can display his ignorance!
I prefer to think of this as the first step in an all-out media blitz to remarket the pope in a way that will appeal to the younger, more hip crowd.
Like sponser a new NASCAR team (Popemobile will have a new definition) or some cleaning detergent (All New “Pope”, with sin-cleaning “Indulgences”, for that just-been-borne clean!).
But that is the cynic in me…
When I read the article, I was wondering if Donohue has anything to worry about himself. He’s the one acting in the name of Catholicism without official support. Maybe we should all send the Vatican an email complaint about him and see how they react?
I don’t disagree this is their stated purpose. Their intent, however, I believe to be something other…
Yes. That would be it.
Sven DiMilo says
About the “huge” part, I mean.
I want this picture on a t-shirt!
#26 – a very quick and dirty photoshop work. Kindly excuse the lack of quality – but I didn’t feel like looking at that goofy face any longer than necessary.
http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/6673/popebomb.jpg (Pope bomb image)
http://yfrog.com/dypopebombj (Short link to the same image)
So what’s next, patenting miracles and the exorcism “process”?
Does it mean that songs like this are no good?
Electric Six also has an album titled “I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me from Being the Master.” The cover art is of an ominous octopus tentacle. Cthulhu anyone?
Citizen Z says
Sven @ #47, the pope is a big prick, eh! Just the anti-condom campaign in Africa, (the vilest policy since other genocides), makes him a big prick.
Citizen Z says
I can see that, as a trademark/”celebrity endorsement” issue. But wouldn’t he already be covered, if that’s what it’s about? Why a “declaration”?
“Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff… and/or the use of the title ‘Pontifical,…’
Ha! I first misread that as “orifice of the Supreme Pontiff”.
I suppose that’s just my brain filling in what my eyes missed with that which makes the most sense.
What about the capos of all the other criminal organizations? Do they get copyrighted too?
“Vatican made a declaration…”
They can hold their breath until they turn blue for all I care.
Fuck the Pope.
The reason behind this announcement is that an italian travel agency, specialised in sending pedophiles to 3rd world countries, was planning to use the Pope’s lovely tiara as a corporate logo.
Prince of Dorkness says
New commandment # 2b: Thou shalt not take the name of the Pope™ in vain.
I wonder how this declaration will affect my venture into PopeTM shaped vibrators….
The Pope© decrees copyright, trademark, and eternal ownership of Teh Athesit©™. All uses and depictions, direct or indirect, of Teh Athesit©™ must first be clear with The Inquistion®™. Failure to do so will result in a visit from The Inquistion®™, being declared a hertic and nasty subhuman, excommunicated, and fed to burning stakes. (Children will be spared the burning stakes, at least until the priests tire of them or are feeling a bit peckish.)
I assume the Spanish are all diligently removing their crapping Papa™ crèche decorations as we speak. (Sorry, I forget the name.)
Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom says
Has the Vatican even signed any of the appropriate copyright law treaties?
Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom says
Update: It is in fact a signatory.
Hm, actually, in total fairness, isn’t the real problem what they try to do with this copyright? If they specifically use it to prevent frauds from trying to rip off catholics, there’s no real harm, right?
Of course, if they attack satirical jabs at the Pope, then there’s an obvious problem, but..
Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom says
“I can see that, as a trademark/”celebrity endorsement” issue. But wouldn’t he already be covered, if that’s what it’s about? Why a “declaration”?”
Actually, I’m pretty sure he’s not. In running through things in my head, they have control over whether you can claim SPECIFIC popes have claimed something kosher. This also establishes the OFFICE of the pope as well, so you couldn’t try and genericize it.
To be perfectly honest, if they actually use the copyright as they claim they will, I don’t honestly see anything abusive about it.
Creature of the Universe says
I just ordered a large Supreme Pontiff with extra pontifical cheese.
Electric Monk's Horse says
So just where is the statistical evidence to back up that little gem of a claim? How does one objectively measure “affection and esteem”? By numbers of illegitimate children fathered? Or offers to allow attempted fathering of illegitimate children? Or blow jobs received in the confessional? And if it’s up in recent years, why was it down before?
This honestly sounds like a campaign to deal with dissent within the church by declaring (with no evidence provided) that Joe is more popular than JP2.
Holy Shit! Ratzi the Nazi is just pissed because he didn’t get any residuals for all those pope-hat paper airplanes my friends and I used to make in school (catlick, even). I am SO busted…
Miki Z says
Vatican City is signatory to both the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) owns the copyright on the Bible which Catholics priests use.
Gus Snarp says
Really? Funny, I sort of thought that the last Pope was much beloved than the current one. I also thought that the Catholic Church as a whole (of which the Pope is the symbol) was having serious popularity problems evidenced by declining church attendance and a lack of new priests.
Seems more likely that they’re concerned less with love for the Pope, than with scorn.
“I was sitting in a temple, minding my own business, listening to a lovely Hebrew mass, when these papist persons plunge-in and throw me in a dungeon and shove a red-hot poker up my ass!
Is that considerate!? is that polite!? and not a tube of preperation H in sight !”
History of the World, Part I , Mel Brooks.
Gus Snarp says
Does this mean we can’t use the word “pontifical”? Can we still pontificate? What about “primate”?
We should copyright ‘Ratzi the Nazi’ before he does.
I prefer Pope PanzerFaust, though I personally can’t take credit for that moniker. It was a fellow Pharyngulite, but can’t remember who.
And PZ… no opposable thumbs on your pope-y caricature? There’s a message in there somewhere, I’m sure…
Rat Bastard has always seemed suitable to me.
Harry Tuttle says
I believe there’s prior art to be considered here. The Pontifical College, and the office of Pontifex Maximus, predate the Catholic Church by approximately 1,000 years.
So if I wish to write about Gaius Julius Caesar’s religious duties in his role as Pontifex Maximus after 63 BCE – I have to get the Vatican’s approval?
Let me consider that for just one se…. fuck you!
Will Von Wizzlepig says
I’ll give you $5 for your sketch of the pope, thereby making an illegal sale of the protected representation of the pope! After you sell it to me, I will hang it in a gallery as an illegally purchased, illegally displayed image of the pope. I am certain that the chain of amusement can extend far beyond this.
Also, if you do sell it to me, can you add a word bubble above him with some curse words in it? Maybe just the F-word?
Gregory Greenwood says
detrius @ 3;
‘I think George Lucas should actually sue the RCC for stealing Palpatine from him…’
Now I realise the two things that are missing from PZ’s illustration.
The Sith robes and the force lightning.
Where is Master Yoda when you need him?
'Tis Himself, OM says
I gave a link to “Pope 0n a Rope” and it got held for moderation.
Electric Monk's Horse says
No, it means that, if you can find any Roman law that even vaguely resembles copyright law, Julius Caesar can sue Ratzi. The fact that Julius is dead makes this slightly more difficult, but I’m sure we can determine his intentions by examining some chicken guts. Given the current makeup of SCOTUS, this has a better than 50% chance of success.
Someone better tell National Lamppon:
Cuttlefish, OM says
But… I’ve already written, mocking the Pope,
They didn’t say yep, they didn’t say nope.
My words are protected by copyright, too–
The Pope better ask me, or I’m gonna sue!
I’ll round up some lawyers–I’ll get a whole squad–
And license a fictional character: “God”;
A little bit different from Him of the bible,
Enough that I’ll sue them, on charges of libel.
oops, i meant lampoon
I don’t think this is as stupid as people are making it out to be; it’s just typical action taken by anyone protecting a trademark. The Vatican isn’t prohibiting anyone from making fun of the pope; what they are stating is that they will not tolerate unapproved use of the papal insignias and the pope’s name and pictures for (chiefly) commercial purposes.
For example, say I go around telling people I’m collecting money for PZ to support a scholarship to UM. Or maybe I post a pic of PZ on my site claiming some affiliation and asking for money. Even within catlick organizations you’d have, say, an orphanage sending out letters with the pope’s photo and coat of arms and a few quotes from the pope like “condoms promote AIDS” – all done without the approval of the pope. What the Vatican is saying is they don’t like it when scamsters do this, and they don’t like it even if catlick organizations do this without official sanction. There is nothing strange at all about this; businesses do this sort of thing every day.
Man, they’ve dropped all pretense of being something other than a for-profit corporation. In the old days, they made at least a minimal attempt to disguise it.
Copyright Does Not Work That Way
And to scale, as well.
(Bite me, BillDo!)
Wow PZ, that’s a damn good likeness.
Rey Fox says
Papas fritos, anyone?
Then why bother with the declaration / law? You can already do that now, as trademark law stands.
And after you’ve given it just a bit more thought,
You’ll have proven a fraud case with malice aforethought.
Courts of the highest will claim jurisdiction
Over Auto-da-fé vs. Fey Work of Fiction.
The Pope will scream, “Says right here, ‘No gods before me!’
How dare you enlighten the sheep who adore me!
I’ll show you who’s boss in the sacred milieu!
I’ll get you, my ‘fish, and your little ‘God II!'”
(…quoth the Cuttlefish, “#$%^ you.”)
Pierce R. Butler says
Obviously, the Holy See just isn’t getting enough commish from the cologne biz.
Cuttlefish, OM says
Badgersdaughter! That was beautiful!
Considering that Pope Benny is a public figure, I doubt his likeness could be trademarked, much less copyrighted. As I understand it, trademark or copyright is applied to a specific expression, not to a generic representation. Expect the idea to get shot down toot suite.
Heh. Smell that? That’s the sweet smell of Cuttlefish-inspiration, Pope-mockery, and a nice glass of Egri Bikaver. A good combination, and all due to you having laid the groundwork. Wish I could come up with that sort of thing without prompting. :)
So they say. I don’t believe them.
He’s so cute.
I am stealing that drawing to use with paper miniatures next time I need an evil cleric for roleplaying.
It’s very similar in style to some of the paper-miniature figures in the Sparks Scrapbook (right hand column at)
– particularly the Wizerd, Dworf, and Fiter (sic)
(okay, so there’s some actually *good* ones around there too, but I kinda like stick figures.)
That website belongs to the guy that designed the font that’s on the “Godless Bus” ads; Dirty Headline is the name of that font. He’s done a new version of the font, too. See:
I don’t think you can copyright a public figure, can you? I mean, he’s not officially an entertainer. He’s the ruler of a small, anomalous state who chooses to issue press releases and to go out on his balcony to wave at crowds. That sounds like attention-seeking behavior to me. So how can he object if people mention him?
J Dubb says
#86 has this right.
Does anyone think maybe there’s a long-term plan to cash in on Dan Brown’s (unfortunate) success?
Okay, folks, this post has given me an idea. Let’s make this Draw the Pope Week. Here’s my contribution, alongside PZ’s to give people encouragement that they too can draw the Popel
Forbidden Snowflake says
Sell the Vatican, fuck the Pope, save the world!
Is there a complete listing of pope-euphemisms and nicknames?
I know we’ve got:
Ratzi the Nazi
Papa Ratzi [complete with a Lady Gaga song!]
What else? The list feels short.
Kristjan Wager says
Don’t the Vatican’s lawyers know any history? In the past there were several popes at the same time (read up on the anti-popes), so to claim that it’s a title reserved for just one guy would be a hard sell.
you drew it on the back of an envelope?
didn’t you have a cracker left?
Richard Eis says
Two things that puzzle me.
One, i’m surprised the pope doesn’t already have trademarks to produce their own tacky range of cheap tat.
Two, does the pope really want everyone to stop talking about him? erm…ok. I’ll never mention that slimy little toad unless i really really have to. The sooner he is forgotten about the better.
Glenn Davey says
I want to publish an illustration or animation on the internet of the Pope engaging in gay sex with the “Prophet” Mohammed. (I don’t even like calling him a “prophet”, it dignifies their rediculous beliefs).
Why? Not because that particularly arrangement says anything about the relationship of Christianity to Islam, but simply because I should be allowed to do such a thing without fear of personal harm.
Who thinks this is a bad idea?
Glenn Davey says
Who worries for their personal safety when discussing Mohammed in public using their real name?
@mythusmage: No, the (generic) pope’s image can’t be trademarked or copyrighted – certainly not in the US, Australia, or UK. Any specific image can be copyrighted and in the USA a specific image can form part of a trademark. I don’t know what all this talk about a law is – any laws passed by the Vatican are only enforceable in the Vatican City – they can’t even control the laws of Italy. I just see this as the Vatican making statements so that if they have to go to court over trademark issues they can show the judge evidence that they do in fact intend to enforce their trademark rights.
Richard Eis says
That implies that we would want to do such a thing. Frankly telling any religious “shut up, you’re boring me” is perfectly within everyones rights. And should be nicely annoying enough without actually being defamatory (although no doubt they will imagine it is)
Now that religion is fading, its a perfect time to start pushing the “ignore the loon gibbering on the street corner” phase.
Peter Ashby says
Come back Dave Alan, we need you again.
Probably not the most auspicious post but this makes me think of an old joke and I just can’t resist…
Three young friends decide to go into the Catholic ministry; they are approved, and become: “Father Flarity, Father Sicola and Father Flannigan.”
Years pass and promotions occur. It is “Bishop Flarity”, and “Bishop Flannigan”; but still “Father Sicola.”
A few more years pass, and it’s: “Cardinal Flarity”, and “Cardinal Flannigan” — but still “Father Sicola!”
His superior’s shoulders fell, he took a deep breath, looked down, then looked up again. “Well I’ll tell you. Your performance has been exemplary, the people all love you, you’ve certainly got all of the qualifications. But, you know, once you start advancing, there’s just no way of telling where you might end up. And face it, my friend, it just wouldn’t do at all, if someday we had a Pope Sicola…”
Cath the Canberra Cook says
If “The Pope” is a banned phrase, I won’t care. We have plenty of other choices.
Recently spotted here and elsewhere:
Ratzi the Nazi
My personal favourite is my own coinage, Benny the Rat.
Mark Eagleton says
Sweet! My Popener just became a collectible. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebigreason/3240834276/