What Churches Need to Know about Copyright
Copyright protects all creative work for a period of time, regardless of where it’s used: even churches, schools, and individuals need to obtain permission before they copy, transcribe, print, or project copyrighted content.
How do you know if something is under copyright? Check in the book, site, or source where you find the content. The copyright information might be right on the page where the content is, or it could be in the front or back of the book or source. It is your responsibility to seek this out.
Churches need to obtain permission to reproduce copyrighted content in their weekly bulletin or for projection. There are two ways to obtain the permission: subscribe to a copyright license that covers that material, or obtain permission directly from the copyright administrator for that material.
Augsburg Fortress offers two different licenses that cover our liturgies. The first of these is specific to the liturgies and service music from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. The second is a complete Augsburg Fortress Liturgies License which covers all liturgies published by, or whose rights are administered by, Augsburg Fortress. This full liturgies license is included with a subscription to sundaysandseasons.com.
Augsburg Fortress offers a license covering hymns and songs, but that license is limited to those hymns and songs under copyright to, or administered by Augsburg Fortress. There are a large number of other publishers and rights holders represented in our hymnals and worship resources. The Augsburg Fortress Hymns License does not cover any material not copyrighted by Augsburg Fortress, so churches may want to consider other third party licenses that cover an assortment of copyright owners under a single license. The three major licenses offered are OneLicense.net, CCLI, and LicenSing. Augsburg Fortress hymns and songs are covered under the OneLicense and LicenSing Online.
It is important to note that any copyright license has specific limits. The limits of liturgy or worship music licenses are that the use of the material be for local, one-time, not for profit use in a worship context. The license granted by these licenses is also site-specific – in other words, for use at your church only. Some rights holders for pieces printed in Augsburg Fortress resources do not participate in any of the licenses listed on this page. Churches interested in obtaining licensing from any of the licensors mentioned should contact those licensors directly to be sure of all the terms and conditions for that specific license. The administrator of any such work sets the fees and conditions around their permission for their content.
If you don’t have a copyright license, or the one you have doesn’t cover the material in question, you’ll have to contact the rights owner directly for permission.
We are always happy to answer questions. Specific questions regarding reproducing material under copyright to, or administered by, Augsburg Fortress can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our copyright phone number is 800-421-0239.