Further to my comment about whether the pope is entitled to assert IP rights over papal encyclicals (on the grounds that he is merely a conduit for the Word of the Lord), Joe Newman writes,
Encyclicals do not necessarily constitute ex-cathedra pronouncements, invested with infallible authority (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05413a.htm).
Further, according to that inerrant source of all knowledge Wikipedia “papal infallibility is the dogma that the Pope is preserved from error when he solemnly promulgates, or declares, to the Church a decision on faith or morals.”
i.e. he isn’t acting as a conduit, but is creating an original attributable work (hence copyrightable), on his own behalf. Whether it is divinely free of error (hard to digest I admit) or not is neither here nor there where the intellectual property rights are concerned.
Er, amen to that. Mark Stephens, a lawyer with a big London firm, wrote to the Creative Commons mailing list pointing out that while the Vatican is defending its imposition of a copyright on papal pronouncements it is placing no bar on dissemination and publication of the pope’s works by the news media, so it would be most appropriate for His Holiness to use a Creative Commons licence! (Might I humbly suggest the Attribution, No derivative works, no-commercial-use version.)