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Copyright Q&A for 3/1/12

Copyright Q&A for 3/1/12

By Christian Copyright Solutions on March 01, 2012

Here is one of the questions we received for our new 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

Question: Whitney Houston’s funeral was a celebration! Are funerals covered in the religious service exemption? What about when they’re webcasted/televised?

Answer: The “Religious Service Exemption” is an extremely important exemption in U.S. copyright law for ministers and churches. U.S Copyright Law (section 110[3]) states that churches (or any religious organization) are not required to obtain permission for the performance or playing of music, or non-dramatic literary works during a religious service at their place of worship or other religious assembly.

As for the posting services over a website, the Religious Service Exemption would not apply.  The exemption only covers those performances that occur at the place of worship, and does not extend to any rebroadcast or reproduction of the event. It is the venue’s responsibility to obtain the appropriate performance rights licensing. For online streaming of music, an internet performance license is necessary. For a television broadcast, a broadcast license is necessary.

Both of these licenses can be obtained from the Performing Rights Organizations (PROs)--in the U.S. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. However, exclusive to  non-profit religious organizations, CopyrightSolver’s WORSHIPcast License provides blanket internet performance coverage from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC for 16 million songs and allows churches to webcast their performances of music in worship services and other events.

So, are funerals legally considered to be a religious service? Unfortunately, the law is vague in this area and there are various interpretations as to what constitutes a religious service. We recommend that churches always err on the side of caution and secure a performance license which covers playing and performing musical works outside of religious services during their activities and events. The PROs provide these rights for their registered authors and composers. In addition, CopyrightSolver’s PERFORMmusic License offers a blanket premise performance licensing for the combined catalogs of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. You can find a list of ways your ministry may need performance rights coverage here: www.copyrightsolver.com/services/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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