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Performing Copyrighted Programs at Church

Be prepared to pay to play—unless an exemption applies

Rachel, the worship leader, wants to perform a popular contemporary song during church services. She plans to project the words on a screen so congregants can sing along. Her performance also will be broadcast live by the local radio station. Neither she nor anyone else on staff at her church have taken time to request permission by the copyright owner to perform the song, project the lyrics, or broadcast the performance live on the radio. Is she in violation of copyright law?

property right

Copyright in a particular work is a property right created by law. Like any other property right, a copyright can be sold, donated, leased, inherited, and divided into parts. It is also protected by law against wrongful use. Section 201 of the Copyright Act makes it clear that "the ownership of a copyright may be transferred in whole or in part by any means of conveyance or by operation of law, and may ...

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Posted:
  • September 1, 2011

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