Copyright Issues and My Church

I have strong feelings about copyright law. I'm not an attorney, but I AM a writer and care about proper credit for published work and maintaining rights. My church doesn't see things the same way I do. And I'm not sure if I should say anything, and if so what.

Last Sunday, 11/8, a performance of a piece of music from a worship service was recorded and published on Facebook (although not the sermon of course...I think my blinding rage is turning to eye-rolling annoyance, so that's progress). I have recommended against doing this without getting permission first, but that advice went unheeded. Not that I'm surprised about that. 

There are mechanical licenses that can be obtained to grant permission to broadcast music recordings from worship services. I think we obtain permission to perform pieces during the services, so maybe that covers the re-broadcasting permission too and I'm overreacting. But I don't think so because when someone asked me about it before copying the music director and I wrote back with my "don't do this unless we get permission" she didn't chime in with "we've already got permission through these performance licenses." SO...

We're also doing an Advent devotional this year, and someone had the bright idea to make it a daily email. Guess who got to figure out how to implement that idea? That's right, me. But I figured it out (I THINK), even though using the new website content management system doesn't make anything easy. (In retrospect I should do like Upper Room and make a separate Blogger Blog with FeedBurner to manage the auto-emails, but I've already got this set up so we're at least going to try it out.)

Anyway, for the devotionals we asked members of the congregation to write, and some did. (I actually wrote two, and Jane drew a picture.) But we didn't get enough devotionals to cover all of Advent. So for the days without a church-specific devotional the associate pastor just pulled out some of her favorites from other published Advent books.


I'm concerned that we don't have permission to use the three or four devotionals that are not church-specific, and I'm not comfortable sending out an email from our church claiming someone else's words as our own even if we do cite the book it originally came from. I did raise this issue with the associate pastor to ask if we had permission to use them. No response, so I probably won't get one unless I push it again.

It's entirely possible I'm overreacting in either or both cases. What do you think? Should I say something more? Let it go? I don't work there but I am involved.

1 comment:

Sydney said...

We who respect copyright law are in the minority. It seems like a law similar to the speed limit. People know they exist but are willing to break them and they probably won't get caught. And if they do? Probably no jail time, just a fine.

My pastor told me that our conference pays for copyright licenses for all Oklahoma Methodist churches. It's a line item on our apportionment list. I'm not sure what it covers though. Performance? Words on the screens? I should find out.

I could go on and on but I've seen too many eyes glass over when I do, so I won't.

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