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Thread: Two Questions about Copyright

  1. #1
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    Two Questions about Copyright

    Hello Gentle People,

    I have a couple of questions concerning U.S. copyright that some of you may be able to help me with.

    First, would there be any copyright issues involved in making up CDs containing hymns from the church's own hymnals and older hymnals, including other churches' hymnals, to sell at the church and outside the church for church fund-raising purposes? This is something I'd like to contribute this winter. (My guess is that the church's license will cover it.)

    Next, I know that copyright duration in America is generally the music writer's life plus 70 years. Some mass-market gospel music, including some well-known, popular songs, is moving into this category. What does "renewed 19xx" mean on a song? Does it mean the 70 years started again, or something else?

    Thanks.
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Auld Lang Syne in the parlor, over and over again

  2. #2
    ppp Pianississmo TSPhillips's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, the right advice here is probably to contact a lawyer. A CCLI license, from what I understand, only covers publishing song lyrics in bulletins and slide projectors and distributing recordings to shut-ins and the like. I know it does not cover selling recordings of the music for money. In fact, it doesn't cover you if you have a free concert where a love offering is taken for a charity. I know that ASCAP went after a church to collect royalties for that very situation and won. If I'm not mistaken, you can use pretty much anything as part of a religious service, but that does not include distributing recordings of the said service. Licensing and copyright is very complicated, and while most violations go unnoticed, the agencies in charge of enforcing them try to make up for that with severe punishment when they are found. Better to be safe than sorry.

  3. #3
    pp Pianissimo Piperdane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silken Path View Post
    . . . First, would there be any copyright issues involved in making up CDs containing hymns from the church's own hymnals and older hymnals, including other churches' hymnals, to sell at the church and outside the church for church fund-raising purposes? This is something I'd like to contribute this winter. (My guess is that the church's license will cover it.)
    The "church license" only covers music to be used within the service(s) at that location only. Creating a CD containing copyrighted hymns is against the law. Even though the church bought those hymnals, the material contained within is still copyrighted. Even creating a CD of choir anthems and offering them for sale would be in violation of copyright laws. The church must have the written express permission of the publisher(s) in order to use copyrighted music for the purpose of selling them.

    A few churches over the years have been fined up to $1,000,000.00 for copyright infringement. Does your church have a million dollars laying around in case this happens? I rather thing not!

    Next, I know that copyright duration in America is generally the music writer's life plus 70 years. Some mass-market gospel music, including some well-known, popular songs, is moving into this category. What does "renewed 19xx" mean on a song? Does it mean the 70 years started again, or something else?

    Thanks.
    Renewed 19xx is the year that the copyright was renewed and with that year the 70 year period begins all over again. There are some hymns by one composer that have been copyrighted into all eternity, because the ownership is being handed down from one generation to another in succession in that particular family.

    The copyright does not always terminate in 70 years. The US law reads in part: life plus 70 years or 95 or 120 years, depending on the nature of authorship.
    It's not only about the author's death .. but the copyright can also be based on publication and creation dates.

    Also to add that just because something is no longer available in print does not mean that the copyright has expired.

  4. #4
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silken Path View Post
    I have a couple of questions concerning U.S. copyright that some of you may be able to help me with.
    Lamar,

    Take a gander at this thread: https://www.organforum.com/forums/showthread.php?35258. We beat that topic to death a couple of years ago, but factual information was included in the thread which will be quite helpful to you. The links to the official copyright law are also extremely helpful.

    Just remember, there are 2 different issues here at play: Performance rights vs. copyright. Some music can be used in church and included in materials for the church body, but not sold, etc. Other music cannot even be performed in a church unless it is a part of a church service.

    You can also try visiting hymnary.org, where you can probably find many hymns that are public domain you could use for the recording.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  5. #5
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    Thank you, gentlemen. And Michael - thanks - I tried to find that thread yesterday - I remember what a romp it was.

    Well, it is disappointing that stuff from, say, a 1924 hymnal may not have moved to the public domain. I'm surprised every time I look at an old hymnal at how much of the stuff that's common now is basically unchanged from 100 years or more ago (other than more modern musical notation). I have an 1887 hymnal "Hymns New and Old," 1887, by Fleming H. Revel, 12 Bible House, NY. #54 is "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!"

    Hmm. Maybe I should play the versions there and put them on YouTube.
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Auld Lang Syne in the parlor, over and over again

  6. #6
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    Read back through the other thread. We were rollin' on that one, and thank you all for replying.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but what I'm getting is this - if the music is all public domain by virtue of being out of copyright, as evidenced by its presence in my 1887 hymnal, especially if it was 50 years old then, nobody is going to be troubled by a short stack of CDs on a table for whatever one wants to donate. Yes, I'd be contributing the jewel cases and CD-Rs - that'll be MY contribution. (I think I've got a 1924 Baptist -- from Internet Archive -- around here, too.)
    Last edited by Silken Path; 09-11-2017 at 07:51 PM. Reason: kain't speill
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Auld Lang Syne in the parlor, over and over again

  7. #7
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silken Path View Post
    Yes, I'd be contributing the jewel cases and CD-Rs - that'll be MY contribution.
    Lamar,

    Let's say it all together, now; "TAX WRITE-OFF!" Probably not for long, but currently it can be written off on taxes as a charitable donation. Oddly enough, one's time cannot be written off, but mileage, donations, and other quantifiable items can be--especially if you're the musician.

    I did that for my new church about 10 years ago, and recorded an XMas CD for them as a gift. I wouldn't be as charitable now, because I've since learned about ASCAP, BMI, and many other acronyms that keep one from helping an organization out. Granted, they are legal obligations, but I just wish there weren't as many convoluted laws governing what we can do to help out a church.

    Noble thought, Lamar. Your old hymnbook should do just fine. Now, I just use a particular book without the copyright notation, and use it as my source material.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

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