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Copyright Q&A for July 2013

Copyright Q&A for July 2013

By Christian Copyright Solutions on July 31, 2013

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

Some of our church musicians have written songs that we use in worship services. We want to record these songs and make them available to our congregation. How would we go about doing that legally with these songs and others we may write?

What a blessing it is to sing a new song to the Lord! Having musicians on your church staff who write new songs is a great gift, but it is important to handle the use of these new works properly to ensure that the songs and the church are protected. Here are some important steps to take to make sure you use the songs legally:

1. Discuss with the writer(s) the question of who owns the new song. Many churches choose not to own song compositions, but retain ownership of the recordings made by their staff. Staff members (authors) are registered as the copyright owners of the songs and the church serves as their publisher and label. For more information on setting your church up as a publisher and/or record label, check out our “Basic Steps To Publishing” Fact Sheet.

 2. If your church is considering becoming a music publisher and/or record label, it is important to obtain legal, accounting and administrative advice to properly set up your companies. It is also vital to communicate clearly with your church staff regarding your policies and whether or not the church wants to own any portion of their copyrighted works. 

3. Make sure you have a license or letter of agreement in place. Even if a songwriter wants to give your church free use of the songs, it is important to have a release form or “gratis” license in place. Details about what kind of product is being created (CD/DVD/Songbook) and the expected production of each product should be detailed in these documents.

4. Once a recording is ready for release, it is important to have your entire album registered with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO). Fees with the USCO vary depending on how many previously unregistered songs are on the album, and how many songwriters will own a portion of each work.

CCS's INDIEadmin Service provides the administrative assistance your songwriters and your church need to protect your songs and license them for use on new products. For more information visit www.christiancopyrightsolutions.com/services/indieadmin. 

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

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