Jump directly to the content

Potential Damages for Copyright Infringement

What penalties can a church face for violating copyright law?

Question:
Our church's music director had created a "chorus booklet" containing about 100 of our congregation's favorite songs. She made 200 copies of the booklet, and placed them in the hymnal racks next to our church hymnals. She made the booklets because she could find no published materials containing all of our favorite songs. Some members have asked if our church is violating the copyright law by using these chorus booklets. Are we? If so, what are the potential damages? Half of the songs in the booklet are copyrighted.

Answer: The copyright law confers several "exclusive rights" upon copyright owners, including the right to make copies of the work. Any violation of a copyright owner's exclusive rights constitutes copyright infringement. When the music director made copies of 50 copyrighted songs, she committed copyright infringement because she violated ...

Log In For Full Access

Interested in becoming a member? Learn more.

Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

Related Topics:
Posted:
  • September 23, 2009

Related ResourcesVisit Store

Your Complete Guide to Virtual Church Meetings
Your Complete Guide to Virtual Church Meetings
A toolkit for legal and compliant business meetings
Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches
Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches
Richard Hammar explains how to avoid copyright infringement.
Using Social Media Safely
Using Social Media Safely
Policies to keep your church staff and members safe when using social media.
Church Issues: Waivers and Release Forms and Church Liability
Church Issues: Waivers and Release Forms and Church Liability
What these documents do—and don't do—based on statutes and court decisions made nationwide.