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Copyright of worship songs

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by rois, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. rois

    rois Guest

    Hi all,

    a question to all those who have been around the block for a while :)

    If a church was to record and produce a cd but songs aren't original, would they be breaking the copyright law if it was to be distributed free of charge to their own congregation maybe to celebrate special occasions? eg xmas, easter

    I mean, I am sure by recording the song would already be breaking the copyright law, but is there such thing (for church anyway) its ok as long as they are not profiting. And from a few people I spoke to including some pastors, they claimed that as long as you don't profit and you put in a line "for own use" you will ok...

    Comments welcome :)
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm not a lawyer, and am not sure of this, but my understanding is that you would be breaking the copyright laws if you are recording a praise band and distributing to the congregation. Everything I've read indicates that you have to pay the "mechanical" royalty to the publisher. The fact that you are not making a profit does not put you in the clear any more than the people going to jail for distributing songs over Napster.

    Many publishers of worship music have a relatively easy system to do this, and it's not that much money. If you are a member of CCLI (and if you are playing contemporary praise songs during worship, you should be) they have links to the publishers.
  3. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    either way, who is going to come after you for distributing the things for free. youre not making any money off of it, so youre just promoting their songs. people illegally download music every day and dont get caught. but the ones that use it at college get screwed because they obviously have money. making you pay for freely distributed material is like sueing a bum
  4. Ballz

    Ballz Guest

    I think if you ask god he'd be more than happy to authorize you to use his tunes
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    It's called silence. John Cage would have violated the copyright if Sonny Bono had been alive earlier.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Making the argument that it's OK to steal if you don't get caught (by a human) isn't supposed to work for a church.
  7. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Actually technically any public gathering where copyrighted material is presented as entertainment requires permission from the individual(s) who hold the copyright. At least in Canada, but I can’t see the US law being much different in this respect. I agree with Bob on this one, stealing is still stealing regardless if you get caught.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Note the distinction between what Link555 is talking about (performance rights) and making the CD (mechanical rights). For performance rights your go to CCLI for Christian Music (works like ASCAP and BMI for secular). For mechanical rights you go to Harry Fox (or the publisher) for secular - usually the publisher for Christian.

    Note that in most cases we are not talking about a huge amount of work or a huge amount of money. It pays to be on the right side of the law, especially for a brick and mortar institution like a church. And while there are lots of changes I'd like to see in copyright law, most modern praise songs are written by small potatoes songwriters. These are (IMO) the people most deserving of copyright protection.
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    The way the copyright, performance rights and mechanical rights are written it does NOT make any difference whether you are doing this to make a profit or not. If you BREAK the law you can get sued.

    Many people like to be jail house lawyers and tell others to break the law because you won't be caught but thats really not good advice.

    If you have legal questions I would direct them to an Entertainment Lawyer.

    If the RIAA can sue a grandmother for making a copy of a CD for her grandchild they certainly could sue a Church for copyright violations.

    Please don't assume that because you are doing this to praise the Lord that you are not guilty under civil laws and don't forget that the good Lord cannot be called as a material witness.

    MTCW and FWIW
  10. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    i guess you guys are right, my bad. its too bad that there is such a difference between laws and morals. if someone wants to do covers of a song for fun and present it to people for no money at all, for a good cause, who cares. its all about greed and money now. taking someones words and lyrics, copyrighted or not, and passing it off as your own is immoral, and rightfully should be illegal. but people just playing for fun get screwed because of greed.

    as an artist myself, these forums scared me from putting any of my stuff online, so i dont have it up anymore. but when michael jackson can own songs that the beatles wrote, thats ****ed up. they are their songs. whats the world coming to?

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