I am finding it difficult to understand the concept of copyright regarding sifrei kodesh – specifically with regard to personal tefilos compiled by Tzadikim.
One would think that any author of a sefer or particular prayers did so entirely with the intention of benefitting every Jew for generations to come. If so, how can there be any copyright contrary to the Tzadik’s intention.
Assuming that copyright is a valid stature in halocha – can one print laminated prayers for free distribution to benefit Klal Yisroel (no profit is made my printing them)
Even if the author of an original work intended it to be freely available, this does not mean that a publisher, who takes on the costs of preparing for publication and printing, cannot copyright his work. Although the text cannot be copyrighted, the layout, the font, and so on, can be protected. Indeed, one of the major copyright debates rages over the printing of machzorim. Of course, the text of the prayer services is public domain material, but the layout, organization, clarification of nusach, and so on, can be protected by copyright.
Of course, the very issue of copyright in halachah is contested, and we will not enter the debate here.
As noted, the actual words of the prayer service are surely not protected by any copyright, and there is no problem in preparing laminated prayers. However, the pages should not be copied without permission from a siddur proctected by copyright laws.