Copyright Part 2


In last week's column, I dealt with the topic of copyright, a legal and justice issue based on the fact that music and lyrics belong to the person(s) who composed them. They cannot be used or copied without the rightful owner being acknowledged and recompensed in some form.
Churches, like all users of music, must be aware of their copyright responsibilities. If a piece of sheet music or a hymn text is in copyright and a parish wants to reproduce it (for example, by photocopying it for the choir or making a transparency to use in liturgy), adapt it by altering the music or lyrics in some way, or publish it in a hymn book or service booklet, then permission needs to be obtained.
The simplest way for parishes to ensure that they are covered for copyrighted material is to have multiple copies of one or more hymnbooks for the assembly, and/or to take out a church copyright licence.
There are various types of licences available to churches for the copying of lyrics or music or, in some cases, both. There is no one licence that covers the copying of all types of music or lyrics.
When a piece of music that is in copyright is to be reproduced in some way, the first step is to check that it is covered by the parish copyright licence. Licensing agencies provide a list of the repertoire for which they administer the rights.
Secondly, the terms of the licence need be checked to ensure that it covers the sort of activity that the parish wishes to undertake. Some allow music to be copied for the choir, some allow lyrics to be reproduced for the congregation, others allow both.
If the licence covers both the work and the activity, then a parish is permitted to use it, provided that the conditions of the licence are followed concerning acknowledgment, keeping records and retaining copies.
How copyright permission is acknowledged depends on the licence, but it must be displayed exactly as the terms stipulate. For example, Word of Life requires the full title and composer's name to appear above each song. At the end of the song or the booklet, the following must be printed: the word 'copyright' or © symbol, the copy year, the name of the publisher, the name of the Australian Agency, and the words 'All rights reserved. Used with permission' followed by the name of the licence and the licence number.
If the licence does not cover the piece of music or how it is to be used, separate permission needs to be obtained from the relevant copyright owner directly or a special one-off licence organised.
This sounds all very complicated, but it really isn't. AMCOS (Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners' Society) and APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) have published a helpful booklet called "Music Copyright For Churches". It can be downloaded from Single copies can also be collected in person from The Liturgical Commission or by sending a stamped ($1) addressed large envelope.


Elizabeth Harrington