The publisher of Italian celebrity gossip magazines like TV Sorrisi e Canzoni (a cross between TV Guide and People) is launching a new glossy title this week Il Mio Papa (My Pope). The 68-page weekly promises to reveal “peeks into his (Pope Francis’) personal life” and will include a pullout centerfold of the pope. The magazine’s editor Aldo Vitali said: “It’s not a cult of personality – we want to use the pope as an example” for living a better life. However, if the magazine tries to publish the writing of the pope they will likely face a copyright infringement lawsuit. The Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house, owns the copyright to all papal writing.
But let’s get back to the centerfold. When we hear the word centerfold, we think Playboy. There are several similiarities. Il Mio Papa plans to publish 55,000 copies for its first run, available for about 50 cents each: the exact run and cost of the first issue of Playboy. The pope and Hugh Hefner are often seen in silk and pajama-like attire. (Hugh reportedly owns 112 pjs; the pope, he’s too humble to say.) Photo editors responsible for Il Mio Papa centerfolds might want to pick up a copy of Playboy’s best-selling edition — November 1972 (it sold more than 7.1 million copies). The centerfold of that issue (a cropped version of Swedish Playmate Lena Söderberg) was scanned in 1973 by an electrical engineer at USC who was working on compression technologies. Since then, that centerfold has been used as the industry standard for testing ways in which pictures can be manipulated and transmitted electronically. (Lena has been dubbed by engineers as “the First Lady of the Internet.”) Playboy threatened to prosecute the unauthorized use of the image but eventually eased up in its pursuit of the copyright violators. Think the Pope will be as forgiving as Hef?