It looks like bureaucracy has shut down another good online apostolate. The very fine Liturgy of the Hours apostolate offered the Divine Office online in a convenient format. The complete breviary in printed format is expensive and a bit complex to figure out, but the online version was free and put the daily prayers in a simple to understand format so that all Catholics could join in prayers once said only by clergy and religious. Notice I said “was.”
As of November 26, all of the English-language versions of the prayers will be available only with a subscription. (The other four languages in which it is offered will remain free.) The subscriptions will range in cost from $30 per year up to $90 per year. Why the change?
My guess is that the copyrights caught up to them. The copyright for the English-language translation of the Liturgy of the Hours themselves is held by ICEL, the infamous International Committee on English in the Liturgy. The readings and New Testament Canticles are from the New American Bible, whose copyright is owned by the US bishops’ conference. Recall that a few months ago the USCCBureaucracy shut down a podcast that featured readings from the daily lectionary for those Catholics who would like to pray the readings of the daily Mass, but couldn’t attend.
Once again the good of spreading the Gospel and encouraging the faithful to pray is trumped by bureaucratic control and the almighty buck. It’s a shame.
Update: I heard back from the eBreviary people with the following explanation:
Creating 5 daily prayers, for 365 days per year, that change every year, is very expensive. We can’t carry the burden alone any longer.
Our copyright fees are very fair, and a small part of our costs. We did not switch to a subscription service because of copyright fee
Melanie says in a comment below that they also told her independently that they offer a “pay-what-you-can” subscription hidden a few links inside.