Copyright Essentials
  • We were discussing something else here on the Forum, and someone seemed to feel that church services were exempt from copyright. This is most emphatically not the case. (Corrected below. This was overbroad. There is a very specific exemption.) I know a lot about copyright, and I still got one detail wrong in that discussion.(And two wrong in this discussion.) It's best to know. I will just say what I know or think I know here, and if those of you (without being sarcastic) who live with this daily could fill it in or correct it, that would be great.

    For church music, I know the basics:

    -- If you buy a hymnal, it contains the clearances for copyrighted music in that particular copy. One is NOT, however, licensed to make copies from that hymnal. In fact...
    -- One cannot make as many copies as one wants to under the doctrine of "fair use." Indeed, for public performance, every member of a musical group, including choirs, should properly be working from a licensed copy. (I know CUA, where I teach, has dedicated music librarians for the undergraduate and for the graduate programs just for this purpose.) (Correction again: your band is probably OK as long as you are not broadcasting. However, one should ask oneself if that is moral. See the discussion below.) Congregational copies are NOT fair use, which leads us to...
    -- If you use compositions from some source outside your hymnal, you should be keeping track of how many people are in the congregation and making appropriate payments through a licensing organization such as CCLI. At my last Protestant church, they displayed the CCLI number on the overhead. That licensing may permit you to make copies for the musicians or congregation. I don't know.(Added: it does.)
    -- If you post on YouTube and you accept advertising, you absolutely must follow the licensing procedure, which they explain to you. Most publishers aside from Sony/ATV allow Google to license it for you. Nevertheless, Google strongly suggests you contact the publisher. And advertising may not matter: A co-worker made a nice wedding reception video for a friend. One guy apparently cut some fancy moves to a Madonna song, so they left in a longish chunk of it. It was too much, and, even though there were no advertisements so far as I know, Warner Music found the video through the mystery of search algorithms and yanked it. A local impressario told me the magic number was 30 seconds, but...check.

    The best book I have ever seen on copyright is Clearance and Copyright: Everything You Need To Know for Film and Television by Donaldson and Callif The issues are fungible, so it helps with music, too, and has things on the internet, and all that. Donaldson, who is handing it off to Callif, apparently, can really make case studies sing, so it is a pleasure to read.

    The book dedicated to music that I see most often recommended is All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Passman, and it has a new edition coming out in a few weeks. I know nothing about it except its reputation.

    Anyone who has anything to add or correct, please do so. It's amazing what "they" track down. 10 or 15 years ago, ASCAP and BMI, the big licensing firms, cracked down as an example on several hundred locally owned coffee houses and restaurants that were playing recordings that were not licensed for "public performance." If you ever wondered what that proviso meant, that is what it means. Seriously; you can't bring CDs from home or just turn on Spotify. Their eyes are everywhere, their ears hear everything, and their arms are very long. You can thank Mickey Mouse for this, as the law was rewritten to protect him.

    I hope that helps.

    Kenneth




  • I forgot to add, it is also a good idea to read as many Copyright Office circulars as apply to your work, but most emphatically "Copyright Basics."

    http://copyright.gov/circs/
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • It is worth looking at the CCLI website in some detail. I hadn't, as it is not my particular world (my parish wants all Public Domain), but I know Sony/ATV, and CCLI's website made my eyes pop. See particularly the link for rehearsal copies. They have gotten quite as thorough as ASCAP.

    us.ccli.com

    Kenneth
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    We were discussing something else here on the Forum, and someone seemed to feel that church services were exempt from copyright. This is most emphatically not the case.


    That is most emphatically not the case.

    Singing a copyrighted song in church is exempt. One does not need to pay for performing rights in order to do this, as one would if one wanted to perform a song at a bar or theatre.

    Printing copies, of course, is subject to copyright laws. Also, video or audio recordings, even of church services, are subject to sync rights permissions.

    And printed copies, as we should all know by now, are subject to reprint rights permissions.

  • We are talking past each other a bit, but just to be clear: Is there a reference for that? It'd be great if i was wrong

    And what is one to make of CCLI? I can tell you, they have strong opinions about how you use their stuff.

    Kenneth
  • I stand partly corrected. JUST singing is exempted. Photocopies for the band--may be fair use. Projections are not covered. Printed lyrics sheets are not exempted. And it has to be in a church service proper. You were the one who said the lawyers could make even the 1923 date disappear. Get a load of all the lawyery stuff at the end of this. End lesson: ask. Always ask
    PS, you missed my thing about sarcasm.

    https://www.christiancopyrightsolutions.com/docs/factsheets/factsheet-performancerightsmyths.pdf

  • Correction again: your band is probably OK as long as you are not broadcasting.)

    Photocopies "for the band" are not fair use, since you are depriving the copyright holders of income.

    You can thank Mickey Mouse for this, as the law was rewritten to protect him.


    This is really out of line. Your disdain for authority is showing.

    The law was written to protect me, Adam Wood and every composer and writer on this list.

    Please stop posting about copyright until you have had to time search and read all the comments made over the years on this forum as we have all worked to establish an understanding of the restrictions and permissions of copyright law.

    At this point you are spreading misinformation.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • I wanted to start a discussion, so I apologize if I insulted anyone. But I am also getting attacked from all sides. See, this is why I love this list. I asked for correction, and I get insults.

    In fact, what I was referring to is that it is so complicated--and people have appreciated the discussiont. I believe "fair use" for bands is a gray area. I myself think you should buy copies, and I know my parish does (which is why they insist on the stuff I pick as being PD.) What you call misinformation is a gray area, and what do I suggest? People read and find out.

    "Please stop posting about copyright until you have had to time search and read all the comments made over the years on this forum as we have all worked to establish an understanding of the restrictions and permissions of copyright law."

    In fact, people did not know, which was why I started this list, and I asked for contributions without sarcasm. You objected to one line, where in fact the law is not clear. You could have added, quite peacefully, "The law may be ambiguous but I think you should buy copies." I would agree with you. Is there anything else that you think is wrong? I take a very strict stance on copyright throughout, but there IS that exemption for worship services, specifically. Adam Wood's proviso about performances applies, it would appear, to concerts in a church.

    by the way, I control several copyrights in another area, and benefit greatly from the Sonny Bono Act, whose severity is what I am referring to. The Copyright Act itself is one of the great advances for artists in history, but that was pursuant to the Constitution.

    So, you object to one line and say I should stop posting. Sorry; don't take orders.

    Kenneth
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,100
    Publishers wanting to separate you from your money would like you to believe everything they publish is covered by copyright in every possible situation. Not so. It varies and there are grey areas in copyright law and application - why else would there be highly paid lawyers who specialize in this. If you work in education, there are even more loopholes and exceptions for teaching purposes. I find it best to contact the publisher - some are more open and honest than others - and ask for permission to copy or broadcast or whatever it is that you want to do. I even had an instance where a composer e-mailed free copies of some of his copyrighted works and thanked me for wanting to perform them.
    Thanked by 1amindthatsuits
  • Thank you CharlesW, that is more the kind of contribution I meant.

    I see that the book on Clearance and Copyright on my desk begins--BEGINS--with 45 pages on "fair use." It is a slippery and hard to define concept in practice, although Sec 107 of the copyright law might---MIGHT---create a presumption in favor of worship services. (See (1) below.)(Further reading indicates lawyers say don't trust that.) I myself think CharlesW's advice is the best; as I have said, 'ask; always ask." I suspect that if it ended up in a court of law, making two copies for other people in the band (note I said "band") would be fair use. 12 copies for people to sing from might not, and ask yourself, is that not stealing? All you have to do is call up---as CharlesW says, call the composer--and you can work out an good arrangement. In fact, the book on my desk always suggests contacting the copyright holder first, and not their agent, if they have one. They still have to abide by any legal arrangements they have made with their representation, but it creates good will.

    Kenneth

    § 107 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use40

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
  • Please see how I expanded my note in the first post.
  • Withdrawn
  • Some good professional advice. There is ambiguity even here on duplication, as good lawyers never say something is just so. However, they say this about Fair Use:

    "Given that church use of worship songs is precisely the use contemplated by the copyright holder, obtaining a license is less risky than relying on the defense of fair use."

    It sounds like good advice to me. http://info.legalzoom.com/rules-playing-copyrighted-worship-songs-23335.html
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Section 110

    Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:
    [...]
    (3) performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or of a dramatico-musical work of a religious nature, or display of a work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly;


    Religious use is not a part of fair use. It is a specific exemption provided by the US Copyright law.

    You are not being attacked and insulted. You are being corrected.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,906
    But I think it's just fine to blame Mickey Mouse for the extension of copyright law.

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Also regarding Fair Use, there are virtually no cases where making copies of something for the purpose of using it actually constitutes fair use. Fair Use should really rather be called "Fair Mention" (cf. Use Mention Distinction), as its intention is the restoration of free speech and free press rights otherwise curtailed by copyright law, as is made clear in the text of the Fair Use exemption when it describes the purpose of the Fair Use exemption:

    criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research


    None of those are any version of "making an extra copy for the band."

    Even extra pages to avoid page turns isn't covered by Fair Use, but rather more or less allowed under the principle of "suing people for that would be extremely stupid."
  • It means, of course also, that a composer must secure the permission to set a text to music from the owner of the text before starting work, since otherwise he will violate copyright as he works. Unless he composes in his head, like Mozart.
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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,516
    I expect this has been covered on the forum but can't find it.
    Question: If I have a license for printing in a worship aid,
    and put the appropriate notice on the worship aid,
    and the worship aid is part of the parish newsletter -
    ¿Can I post the newsletter on the parish website?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,906
    It's all up to what the license contract specifies. If the issue isn't mentioned, I'd assume it's not permitted.

    But printers of parish newsletters often put them on-line for the parish, so whether it's done with or without the consent of the rights holder, it probably happens often.
  • You can thank Mickey Mouse for this, as the law was rewritten to protect him.


    This is really out of line. Your disdain for authority is showing.

    The law was written to protect me, Adam Wood and every composer and writer on this list.


    The copyright extension doesn't protect ME; I'd be covered until death with or without the extension. It won't even much protect my posterity, as if the music didn't make money before, it won't after. It does protect people who hold the rights to cultural icons. And, more importantly, it makes what I do as a musicologist and performer more difficult.
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins CHGiffen
  • Hypothetical question:

    If one wished to perform a piece written by a composer who is now clearly beyond copyright protection (say, Jean-Baptiste Lully or Marc-Antoine Charpentier or someone of a similar vintage) is one in any way bound by copyright restrictions -- say, to the publisher, or the original publisher's new replacement?

  • The edition is under copyright. So if you make copies of ©1974 editions, you're in trouble. And recordings could be an issue, if identifiable as that edition (as Hyperion Records found out to great cost). If you make your own edition, or use a PD edition, no problem.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,516
    Yes copyright law was originally written to protect the rights of authors and composers, plus their heirs for a limited time. Seventy years is absurd, and I would severly cut back the rights of 'corporate' bodies. [Itself an absurd term, since these entities are incorporeal].
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,152
    It means, of course also, that a composer must secure the permission to set a text to music from the owner of the text before starting work, since otherwise he will violate copyright as he works.

    I'm not sure of this. And I certainly have not adhered to it in the past, nor even in the most recent past.

    One example: My three settings of the tune Old Hundredth (© 2003), which employ a different rhythmic metre than the two usual common metres, were originally composed for "Lord, Make Us Servants of Your Peace" (© 1969, administered by OCP) by James Quinn, S.J. (1911-2010). Given the prospects of getting past the copyright administrator (I didn't think to contact Fr Quinn before his death), I published at CPDL the tune along with a different L.M. text ("O Love, How Deep"). My feeling was (and is) that, although the original inspiration for the setting was Quinn's text, its used as a hymn tune was (and is) of more general purpose. Anyway, I never published or circulated it with Quinn's text.

    Most recently, and somewhat played out on this forum, I composed the hymn tune Gloucester Crescent ( 10 10. 10 10. D) and posed the question as to what the inspirational and intended text was. It finally was guessed correctly by Fr Krisman, that it was A Hymn for St Cecilia ("Sing for the morning's joy, Cecilia sing") by Ralph Vaughan Williams' widow Ursula Vaughan Williams (1911-2007). I knew that copyright to the text is held by the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust, but I did not have the temerity (or audacity?) to apply for permission to use the text before the music was composed. Fortunately, Hugh Cobbe OBE, the director of the VWCT, was happy to grant permission to use the text, perhaps since I sent him the music for approval. At any rate, he likes the tune and setting, and, as an organist himself, he liked my style of composing! So all's well that ends well in this case.

    I rather think that something akin to these examples is more common than one might imagine, with the caveat that one should not (must not) circulate (or publish) such settings for performance copy/use.
  • Charles, your examples and their context are convincing and of course they are also real.

    I maintain my claim above on the rather pedantic basis that even writing one copy in longhand without license is a violation of copyright. Now one might say that is fair use and maybe it is. But it's unlicensed copying that the law prohibits, not unlicensed publication.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,152
    Hmm ... might copying out a text during the composition of a piece of vocal/choral music be legitimate for scholarship or research, at least while the composition is in progress? It's a little hazy to me, since in both cases, the texts were (and are) easily found online.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,516
    So, does anyone have the right to sing along to a song heard on the radio? Surely that would be unlicensed, and is certainly copying, and if I am not alone is public performance.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    A good article on the copyright terrain in the USA now that we've entered 2019:

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/01/a-whole-years-worth-of-works-just-fell-into-the-public-domain/
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