Today’s technology is used by many of our congregations in worship and on Web sites. Church Mutual, the synod’s insurance carrier, has highlighted several considerations when performing or copying copyrighted material in the feature story of their Fall 2010 edition of RiskReporter. The article, “Proper licensing assures your congregation isn’t stealing,” is a good summary of what to consider about copyright infringement.
Two important points are made in the article’s final paragraph. First, the cost of an umbrella license such as CCLI or OneLicense.net is small when compared to a fine that a congregation might have to pay for breaking copyright law. Second, the damage done to a congregation’s reputation as a result of publicity because of a church being accused of violating copyright law could be very serious.
One item that is not mentioned is use of streaming or podcasting a worship service.* Additional permission is needed if copyrighted material is used in any way for such a broadcast. Pastors and staff also need to be aware of using copyrighted material in sermons.
* Editor’s note: I’ve found resources from the United Methodist Church useful when exploring this topic. – KK