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Copyright Q&A for December 2012

Copyright Q&A for December 2012

By Christian Copyright Solutions on December 20, 2012

Here is  a question we received for our monthly Copyright Q&A feature. Answers are provided by the CopyrightSolver.com Team. Feel free to submit your questions to us. We answer as many as we can here on our site once a month.

Question: For outreach, my church has recently made a video montage of our youth and children’s events, with a song playing throughout the video. Is this legally o.k. to do? My pastor said we bought the music and, as a church, we have the right to use it however we want.

Answer: Your pastor is operating under some incorrect beliefs. Unfortunately, he isn’t alone, as this is a common myth. Many church workers believe that 1. Churches are exempt from Copyright Law. 2. The purchase of a piece of music inherently allows the buyer to use it “however they want”. Let’s look at why these assumptions are incorrect…

Myth: Churches are exempt from Copyright Law.
U.S. Copyright Law allows churches to play or perform any song within a worship service without permission or paying royalties. This exemption is very specific. Churches must secure proper licensing for any activities beyond this exemption, or they could be in violation of Copyright Law. Synchronizing a song to a video, creating practice CDs, streaming performances online, creating derivative works, printing copies, and many other ministry-related activities all require licensing and—in most cases—the payment of royalties.

Truth: The purchase of a piece of music does NOT allows the buyer to use it “however they want”. Unless the product explicitly states otherwise, it is intended for “personal use only” and grants you only specific, limited uses. For example, when you purchase a piece of sheet music, you have purchased a copy of the tangible, written work. Unless explicitly stated on the manuscript, the right to make copies of it is not included. Neither is the right to perform the work publicly; you must obtain performance licensing to perform it outside of worship services. Likewise, when you purchase a CD, you have purchased the right to play it for personal use. Playing it in public would require performance licensing in most cases. Including it on a video would require synchronization licensing from the song owner and master synchronization licensing from the recording label or owner.

As a general rule, it’s important to remember that—if your church is doing anything other than playing or performing a copyrighted work within a service—permissions and royalty payments will likely be required.

The CopyrightSolver PERFORMmusic License makes it simple, easy and affordable to get comprehensive coverage for your music performances outside of services for more than 16 million songs in the catalogs of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. The WORSHIPcast License covers the same 16 million songs and allows you to stream your performances online. If you need to secure synchronization rights and other licensing not covered by blanket licenses, CopyrightSolver’s PERMISSIONSplus handles your procurement of these licenses and royalty payments.

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

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