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Copyright Q&A for March 2014

Copyright Q&A for March 2014

By Christian Copyright Solutions on March 31, 2014

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.

Question: I go to a small church so, as the worship leader, I handle everything music-related. We’re getting ready for VBS and the planning committee has decided that instead of using a “canned” program, they want to use an original program that was written by two of our members. For the music, they want to incorporate Christian songs that they think would fit with the theme. Are there any copyright issues here?

Answer: It’s wonderful that, even in a small church, you have creative folks who are able to develop a fresh, new program on their own! With some simple steps to address copyrights, you can be sure your program is copyright compliant.

The first step is to get written permission to use the program from its authors, including the terms and payment (if any) they would require for its use.  

Securing permissions for the songs you would use would require the same basic process churches should follow anytime they play or perform music outside of religious services:

1.      Songs that are in the public domain require no licensing.

2.      For songs under copyright, you must contact each copyright owner (some songs have several) to ask them for permission and make payment. Be sure to get their OK in writing.

3.      A simpler alternative to contacting individual copyright owners is the CCS PERFORMmusic License, which allows churches to legally play and perform over 17 million songs in the repertoires of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. (This is the only church blanket performance license available in the U.S.)

4.  Reproduction licensing is needed if you plan to print the song lyrics for overheads or song sheets. The most popular church reproduction licenses is the CCLI Church Copyright License. This license covers “congregational” singing so you’ll want to contact CCLI to see whether your planned activities fall within the scope of their license terms and conditions.

Are you also planning to create CD’s to give the children to assist them in learning the songs?  

Are you planning to create memory DVD’s to send off with them?  

These are projects many churches include in their VBS experience, and creating them does require special licensing for each song you wish to use.  CD’s require mechanical licensing (if recorded by your church) andmaster mechanical licensing (if you’d like to use an artist’s original recording). DVD’s require the same licenses, plus a synchronization and master synchronization license, in order to include them in a format that combines the music with images.

To acquire the licenses needed for these special projects, you would need to contact individual copyright owners directly. They will want to know how you wish to use their material, as well as the number of copies you plan to distribute, and they will let you know what royalties would be required if they grant permission.

CCS professionals can assist you with these, or most any special project, through our PERMISSIONSplus Service. Just let us know what you want to accomplish and we’ll work to secure the permissions you need on your behalf.

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 your first-time purchase of the PERFORMmusic and WORSHIPcast Licenses and the PERMISSIONSplus Service.

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