A recent resurgence of interest in copyrights spurred us on to print the following frequently asked questions/comments. Based on our research, we have included a response to each.
Call: It's worth the risk to reprint without permission; nobody ever checks on churches.
Response: You may not hear about churches getting caught, but it happens! Depending on whether the court deems it willful infringement or not, fines can range from $200 to $150,000. (Think of all those copied anthems in your files; fines can be given per piece!) Besides, remember the commandment: You shall not steal. Those who hold copyrights to songs and other intellectual property make their living from fees paid for the use of their material.
Call: We use a screen, not bulletins, so we're okay.
Response: The copyright law applies to any reproductions - bulletins, overheads, any electronic reproduction, handouts, websites ... the works.
Call: Well, at least it's only applicable to music!
Response: Copyright law applies to any printed materials - VBS skits and lessons, articles handed out in adult Sunday school class, even Bible translations! Some of these are available for use free of charge, provided you include a copyright notice with their use.
Call: I have OneLicense; since our hymnal is published by Augsburg Fortress and they're listed under OneLicense, I can copy any hymn from the hymnal without obtaining additional permission.
Response: Each hymn has its own publisher from whom Augsburg Fortress had to obtain permission. That means AF has permission to reprint, not you! Unless the copyright line for a specific song lists AF as the publisher, you still have work to do before reprinting. Many, but not all, of the hymns and songs in the ELW may be used if you have a OneLicense or CCLI license. Copyright information for all the hymns in the ELW are provided in the hymnal.
Call: When printing one or more hymns, each copyright permission line must appear immediately underneath its hymn.
Response: According to the U.S. Copyright Office/Library of Congress, June 2010, "the (copyright) law does not identify where or if the permissions need to be displayed." Each publisher has its own protocol; when you call/write for permission, you should be given this information if applicable.
Call: Hymns in Public Domain should be listed as such.
Response: If a piece is Public Domain (no copyright in effect), you may but are not required to note it. (Note the ELW index on page 1173, for instance - #309 is considered Public Domain, thus omitted from the copyright list.)
Call: It's out of print so it's okay to copy.
Response: Only if you ask the publisher first! Just because it's out of print doesn't mean the copyright has expired.
Call: Spending money on a license or individual reprints is a waste of our congregational resources.
Response: OBTAINING COPYRIGHT PERMISSION IS THE LAW. As noted above, this is how authors and composers make their living; it is our duty as Christians to do our best to honor our commitment to those who aid our ministries.
Helpful contact information:U.S. Copyright Office
, (202) 707-3000;Augsburg Fortress Copyrights & Permission
, 1-800-328-4648, firstname.lastname@example.orgOneLicenseCCLIAugsburg Fortress' Sundays and SeasonsGIA's HymnPrint.netHope's Hymnody Online