From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Brush up on Copyright Law

Date 23 May 1996 14:44:48

"UNITED METHODIST DAILY NEWS" by SUSAN PEEK on Aug. 11, 1991 at 13:58 Eastern,

Note 2974 by UMNS on May 23, 1996 at 16:11 Eastern (4214 characters).

SEARCH: secretaries, copyright, law, association

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CONTACT: Thomas S. McAnally                    260(10-21-71){2974}
         Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470

Church secretaries brush up on
copyright law, elect new officers

by Barbara Dunlap-Berg*

     CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (UMNS) -- "Get spiritual advice from a
pastor, legal advice from a lawyer!"
     That counsel came from David W. Pettis Jr., a patent
attorney, in a seminar on "Copyright Law and the Church" during
the annual meeting here May 16-19 of the Professional Association
of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS).  Attending the
15th annual event were 300 members from 31 states.
     Addressing those who say, "But I just copied it for the
bulletin, newsletter, minister, choir, Sunday school or computer,"
Pettis warned that church organizations are not exempt from the
law.  If anything, he said, "being a church should make us more
sensitive to the rights of others."
     In a presentation that summarized copyright law basics,
infringement, application to churches and licenses, Pettis, who
also serves as music director at St. Andrew's United Methodist
Church, Brandon, Fla., zeroed in on music "where so much potential
for copyright infringement resides."
     When sheet music for a cantata is purchased, he said, a
performance license for one-time use is provided.  Music for a
solo, rearranged from a copyrighted score, is an adaptation and
requires a license.
     If a worship service is audiotaped or a special program is
videotaped, he said a license to record the music is required. 
Permission to print the words to a song is not permission to tape
the music.
     Performance of a non-dramatic work such as choir music for a
worship service is exempt, Pettis said.  However, if the music is
to be recorded, permission is required.  Recording a choir program
and selling the tapes is prohibited by law, unless a license is
     If copies of purchased music are made to make it easier for
page turners, the copies must be destroyed after the performance,
he said.  Teaching songs by rote is permissible but if the words
are written down or the music is recorded and given to someone,
that is copyright infringement.
     What about printing songs from The United Methodist Hymnal
and Book of Worship?  Check the bottom of the page on which the
song or other material appears or the "Acknowledgments" section in
the back of the book, Pettis said.  Contact the copyright holder
or owner. At the United Methodist Publishing House, contact the
Permissions Office: (615) 749-6422 or FAX (615) 749-6512 or write:
P.O. Box 801, 201 Eighth Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37202.
     People tempted to photocopy a worship resource without
getting permission, Pettis said, should be reminded that composers
and publishers earn their living by writing and publishing songs.
     Individuals who try to sidestep copyright laws as well as
their churches are liable, and both can be sued, he said. 
"Litigation is expensive," he declared.  "The only way to avoid
liability is to obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Presume that anything handed to you for reproduction is
     He suggested that churches contact Christian Copyright
Licensing Inc. for blanket licensing information: 6130 N.E. 78th
Court, Suite C11, Portland, OR 97218, or call (800) 234-2446.
     In other action, the association elected the following
officers: Emily Vance, Dayton, Ohio, president; Joyce Townsend,
Charleston, W.Va., vice president; Kay Hatcher, Springfield, Mo.,
secretary; Mary McClain, Indianapolis, treasurer; Jeanette
Coffelt, Olathe, Kan., membership secretary; and Donna Doutt,
Bridgewater, Pa., Vital Link editor.
                              #  #  #
     Dunlap-Berg is senior account executive for United Methodist
Communications' Division of Program and Benevolence Interpretation
in Nashville, Tenn.


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