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Copyright Q&A for November 2013

Copyright Q&A for November 2013

By Christian Copyright Solutions on November 21, 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.

Question: I just read that I need performance licensing to play a song I already bought. I don’t understand why I need to pay for licensing several times for the same song. Once I buy a piece of sheet music or a CD, don’t I have the right to use it any way I want?

Answer: Many people believe that, since they bought the sheet music or CD, they should have the right to use the song any way they wish. However, that is not the case. There is a distinction between the copy of a song you have purchased, and the song, itself.

Copyright Law grants six separate and exclusive rights to a song’s copyright owners. These six exclusive rights are:

  • Reproduction
  • Derivative Works
  • Distribution
  • Performance
  • Public Display
  • Digital Recording Performance

When you purchase a piece of sheet music, you are purchasing that tangible, hard copy reproduction of the song in print; you are not (unless explicitly specified on the document) purchasing the right to perform it publicly. The public performance of the song outside of worship services does require separate performance licensing. Likewise, the purchase of a CD is the purchase of a reproduction of the audible representation of that song, for your own personal use. Playing it at a public event does require performance licensing.

CCS’s PERFORMmusic License covers the entire repertoires of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC - over 17 million secular and Christian songs, and includes songs in the CCLI program. For more information on the exclusive rights of copyright owners, download our FREE Copyrights 101 Fact Sheet. For more information on performance licensing, download our FREE Performance Rights Fact Sheet.

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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