Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Christians, Churches, Copyrights and Christ

Which of the following statements is true about using lyrics, songs, dramas, and videos for church services and outreach events?
1. Songs may be used if you own the sheet music.
2. Lyrics displayed on a video screen are OK if you don't make paper copies.
3. You can use whatever you need if you don't charge admission.
4. Video clips from movies can be used if the length doesn't exceed 3 minutes.

Answer: None of the above.

Many of you reading this probably thought at least one of those statements was true. Having been in Christian production for many years, I have heard all of these reasons -- and countless others-- given by churches, worship leaders and pastors for why they did not need to seek permission or pay licensing fees for works they used. But the truth is, that if you use anything created by someone else, you must have permission to use it or you are guilty of stealing property. The US copyright laws, with very few and specific exceptions, allow the creator of a work to retain the rights to it. And being ignorant of the law isn't a defense for violating it.

With the exception of music performed live during a regular worship service, any use by a church must be with permission. For example, if your praise team performs a song that's on the top 10 pop chart during your worship service, that's OK under copyright law. If you project the lyrics of that song on a screen or print them in your bulletin, that's not allowed unless you have obtained permission. If you show a video clip or use parts of a video or song to create your own video used during your service or special event, you must have permission from the copyright holders to do that.

The law is complicated, but it's not hard to obtain the permissions necessary for any use. It's amazing to me, however, how many Christians, who normally would abhor lying or stealing, so readily throw these commandments aside when it comes to using copyrighted works for church events.

Masterwork Productions offers a workshop to help churches understand the law and resources for how to obtain permissions. Please contact us for assistance so that you may be the best witness for Christ in your church and community. If you know what the law is, and you know what is right, but choose to do wrong, that is sin.
Lauren Yarger

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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