Copyright... or copy wrongs?

DG has asked a good question in one of the comments to the previous thread. It's something that affects us all, whether we like it or not, whether we think it's fair or not. What can or can't we do with copyrighted material when we gather as church or as any part of church?

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The bottom line on DG's question is that if you are gathering as church or any kind of church group (whether you call that a network or whatever), then, yes, you must have whatever licensing is appropriate to use whatever copyrighted material you need to use. If I understand DG's situation, his appointment is to an existing church and his ministry is offered through that church, though the effect of it may be to start a new church. As long as he is operating under the auspices of an existing church, if THAT church has the appropriate licenses, AND if the usages proposed are properly covered by those licenses, then those usages are covered. If that church does NOT have such licenses, it must get them if DG wants to use any copyrighted materials. The current CVLI ONLY applies to movies and videos from a limited set of studios, and then ONLY for showings in the particular buildings of the church in question. So showing movies anywhere but church property, or recording things on the DVR, much less editing them, isn't covered at all by any license at this time... which means you'd need to get copyright permission from the copyright holder for each and every showing at each and every location, and probably pay a good sized royalty to get it.

Now, whether every node of a network would have to get its own license... that depends on how the nodes relate to the whole entity AND on the particular terms of EACH licensing agreement. If each node is really entirely independent from a legal perspective, then, yes, each has to get its own license, pursuant to the requirements of the licensing agreements. If each is part of a larger whole, then the larger whole to which it relates has to get its own license which it may, in some limited instances, share across its ministries-- but again, this is limited by the requirements of the license itself. Some licenses may not allow this. You have to read each one, and if it's not clear, call the license provider and ask them the question. For example, though an Annual Conference may have a CCLI license, and Districts are legally subentities of an Annual Conference, a Conference CCLI license can ONLY be used by the Conference itself for Conference activities-- it cannot allow any other entity to use it without violating the terms of the licensing agreement and so being subject to a civil lawsuit for damages. Likewise, a District CCLI cannot cover any activities for local congregations within the district. Nor can a congregation "share" it's CCLI with any other congregation.

During the past year or so, a lot of movies whether on DVD or in the theaters, have been preceded by a trailer that says, "Piracy... is stealing.... Stealing... is a crime."

And for us, stealing is more than a crime... it's a breach of our covenant with God-- the very God we're trying to represent and help people connect with in all of our ministries as church... emerging or otherwise.

Peace in Christ,

Taylor Burton-Edwards