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Copyright Q&A for 4/5/12

Copyright Q&A for 4/5/12

By Christian Copyright Solutions on April 05, 2012

Here are a couple of questions we received for our bi-weekly Copyright Q&A feature. Answers are provided by the CopyrightSolver.com Team. Feel free to email us your questions to copyright[at]allaboutworship.com or tweet them to @allaboutworship w/ hashtag #copyright. We answer as many as we can here on our site, every other Thursday.

Q: Does a church website have to have a privacy policy and/or terms of use publicized on their website?

A: No, privacy policies are not required for a church website. However, if there is anything you feel needs to be clearly spelled out, this is your opportunity to do it. Privacy policies are helpful to instill a confidence from site visitors that you will not use any information they provide to harm or inconvenience them in any way. Terms of Use are helpful for your own protection to reduce your church’s risk, should any content from your website be used by a third party in any illegal manner, or without your licensed permission. In addition, you may choose to copyright the content on your website (and the website itself) with the U.S. Copyright Office to further protect your works.

You should be very cautious about publishing any photographs of persons without obtaining signed consent and release forms from individuals, as this does involve privacy issues; also make sure you obtain clearances for use of any third party copyrighted material (not owned by the church) on your site, including music performances, recordings, visual images and videos.  You may want to obtain legal counsel specific to your website terms and conditions as well as policies and copyrighted material.

Q: Many people at our church believe that since we use our hymnal for most things, and since we paid for the use of the hymnal, we're covered. Is that the case?

A: In most cases, the purchase of a hymnal for your church does not include any additional rights (such as reproduction or making copies, performance, display or derivatives) for the use of the copyrighted material contained within it. So it remains the responsibility of the church, to have the appropriate permissions in place for the use of any copyrighted material contained within it. The same is true of any other printed music, such as sheet music, song books, etc.

Fortunately, the “Religious Service Exemption” states that the performance or playing of music or non-dramatic literary works during a religious service at their place of worship or other religious assembly does not require licensing. This allows churches to use hymnals, and songbooks for the purpose of performance, and even play sound recordings and background tracks during their worship services.

However, beyond your worship services, it is important to have licenses for any performances of copyrighted material.

It is important to note that most hymnals also contain many songs within the public domain. Songs within the public domain would not require additional licensing for their use, unless it is a copyrighted arrangement of the public domain song. Below each hymn (or on a Copyright Notice Page) you should find the hymn author’s name and their publisher from which permission to use the copyright can be obtained. Churches that do not have a blanket performance license need to be keenly aware of which songs they are using outside of worship so that they do not act in violation of copyright law.

You can find a list of your church’s most common activities which need performance licensing at www.copyrightSolver.com/performmusic.

The CopyrightSolver answers provided are information, not legal advice. For more information and resources, including fact sheets, videos and idea kits, visit www.CopyrightSolver.com. Use promo code “ABOUTWORSHIP” to receive 10% off the PERFORMmusic and WORSHIPcast licenses and the PERMISSIONSplus service.

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