Friday, September 22, 2006

Who really cares what media is legal to use in church services?

Many churches have a maverick attitude about the resources they use in public worship. They grab photos from the internet, rent a movie from Blockbuster, and with little thought to the legalities, boom, Sunday showtime!

For years churches have needed wisdom and advice about how to properly use internet, video, sound, and music media. ZOE has done sessions over the years on this, and we have brought in various resource people.

Now here is a biggie: many churches--some with developed praise teams and paid leaders--use whatever songs they want, tape them, copy sheet music, do whatever they want, and never think very much about the paperwork that is required to present songs in a church when using copyrighted songs that are owed royalties through CCLI and other songwriting organizations.

How does your church rate? Let's start today with music.

Here is one resource I'd like for you to check out. Come back and comment on what you've learned, what your church practices, and let's learn together what we can about church copyrighting. Let's do the right thing, even if it's not the easy thing.


Keith Brenton said...

Here's a page from CCLI that describes copyright law:

And this one is an overview of "cans" and "can'ts":

Of course, there's an FAQ page, too:

It's always a bit of a shock to realize that absolutely NO copying without permission is allowed under copyright law ... the reality is that most copyright holders aren't going to take action unless money is exchanged.

But the fact is, they are deprived of rights when copying and free distribution takes place. It's, well, stealing.

There are a good number of copyright holders (of church and other popular music) who donate proceeds to charity - so stealing from them may be stealing from the poor, to boot!

Greg Kendall-Ball said...

I'm not sure how to feel about this.

Of course, there are people who spend their time and energy and giftedness creating songs, artwork, etc., but there is something about profiting from the worship of God that just sits very poorly with me.

Is it about getting the money that is owed to them? Is it about getting the acknowledgment?

Anonymous said...

Dear Greg--

I've been copying everything in your blog and doing dramatic readings with it in classes and speeches, and I'll pretty well use it any way I want without telling you or acknowledging it as yours . . . . If that were true, do you know how you feel about that?

Greg Kendall-Ball said...

I would be incredibly pleased!

Of course, there is a certain concrete difference between what I do and what Christian artists do.

That being said, I do what I do because I hope it has some positive effect on people, for the sake of the Kingdom. While it may not be worth much, I consider it my small gift to the world, at least the part that reads my blog.

My main beef with this issue is not necessarily the laws of copyright and so on, it's this notion of profiting from the Gospel. There is, for instance, a section of our heritage that doesn't use located preachers. There are differing views on this, of course, but the idea of profiting from the worship of God just doesn't sit well with me.

There aren't any easy answers to this, but I'm glad it can be discussed.

Greg Taylor said...

Hey, Greg, that was me asking you that question and just did an anonymous b/c it sort of went with the point . . . OK, no one in their right mind would dispute your point about profiteering from the gospel, but that's not what we're discussing.

We're discussing churches following the law. You shifted the discussion to the people who faithful follow their calling and submit through publishers their work and get small royalties and most songwriters lives very frugally and well say "I don't do it for the money."

So, back to the issue at hand: we're talking about how churches can rightly live up to the legal obligations of registering with CCLI, keep records, and report properly to CCLI.

Does your church do that? If you don't, why not? Yes, Greg K-B brought up the other side of the individuals, but again, that's not what I'm asking here. So let's address churches responsibilities.

Greg Kendall-Ball said...

I am not involved at all with the worship planning process, but I do notice a CCLI # on every slide Highland uses, so I assume they are within the law.

Is there a resource out there that points people to "Open Source" or copyrightless works?

I am in agreement that churches should stay within the bounds of ethics and the law, but I would also want them to critically reflect on how and why they chose the songs they do. Sorry I diverted the conversation.