Copyright and AST Chapel Worship

Updated January 8, 2019

What, in essence, is Copyright?

In publishing a work, the author establishes the terms for public availability (e.g., without charge, for sale or rent, the fees, how many copies are available, what kind of uses are permitted, etc.). The public does not have a right to distribute what belongs to someone else on terms other than those set by that person.

Does Copyright Law Apply to Churches?

Yes. Some particular needs of churches and other organizations such as schools and libraries are recognized explicitly in law, but in general the same rules apply to churches as to anyone else. Churches need to get permission, as do others, to photocopy, reproduce in bulletins, make transparencies, project from a computer onto a screen, or show a video clip.

What Is Not "In Copyright" and What Is "In the Public Domain"?

Copyright subsists in a work during the lifetime of the author, through the end of the calendar year in which the author dies and for a period of 50 years following that year. If there are multiple authors, the same terms of copyright apply to the last surviving author. In cases where authorship is unknown or where it belongs to a corporate body, the rules are slightly different.

Copyright may not apply for a number of reasons: the place of citizenship of the author or the country of origin of the work may not be signatory to a treaty to which Canada is also a signatory; the term of copyright may have expired; or the owner of the copyright may have assigned the copyright to the public. In these cases, the work is said to be "in the public domain." Extreme caution in the reproduction of public domain material is required because editors, composers, and others, when publishing such material, sometimes introduce their own alterations that are in copyright. For example, part of a text or harmonization may be in copyright while the melody and most of the words are not.

Hymns, Music, and Printed Worship Resources

Congregations cannot legally photocopy, reproduce in bulletins, or use on overheads or a projection system material that is in copyright unless they get permission. In most cases, buying a book does not give the purchaser the right to make reprints in whole or in part. For example, most hymnals have explicit statements on the copyright page about conditions under which certain of the contents may be reproduced.

Preceding Material by Don Anderson “Copyright Guide for Congregations—A Guide to Copyright Issues Facing Congregations Today”, 2014 Edition.  United Church of Canada.

Responsibility of AST Worship Planning Teams

Anytime worship planning teams reproduce music or lyrics for a leaflet or bulletin or electronic display in Chapel Worship, the reproduction must include a citation that notes the copyright holder and the license that provides authorization to reproduce the material.  In an electronic display a title slide may be used to contain this information.  In print formats the citation may be printed in small font.  For VU/MV sourced materials, the citation and appropriate licensing agency can be found in the index resources noted below.  For other sources, search the Licensing Agency websites to determine which agencies cover the songs you plan to reproduce.

For support, please speak to Kevin Parks, University Musician,

AST Worship Committee is responsible to report to the licensing agencies when lyrics or music is being displayed or reprinted. Worship planning teams are asked to send an email to Kevin Parks, University Musician, listing titles and source info (the number in VU, MV, CP, CBW3, etc) for selections they intend to reproduce.

AST has two licenses to accommodate our use of copyright material in worship

  • OneLicense A-726973

Each reprinted hymn or song must include the symbol ©, the year of copyright, and the name of the person or entity claiming copyright. In addition, the words “All rights reserved” and your license number must appear with each piece, or once near the beginning or end of your booklet or bulletin with the other acknowledgements contained therein. Since all OneLicense users are required to add: “Reprinted under <Your Number> ” to the copyright notice, it is not necessary to add words such as “Used/Reprinted with permission.”

Don’t Be Afraid: Words and music copyright © 1995, 2007 by WGRG, Iona Community, Scotland, admin. GIA Publications, Inc., excl. N. American agent. All rights reserved. Reprinted under #A-726973

  • CCL #2979937

The information required to be viewed with each song is: The Song Title, Author(s), The Copyright Notice, the CCL License Number

All Who Are Thirsty: Words and music Benton Brown and Glenn Robertson, © 1998 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire) (admin. In North America by Music Services, o/b/o Vineyard Music Global, Inc.)  CCL#2979937

Resources specifically related to copyright

Please note in the MV/VU license agency indices that since the copyright agency “LicenSing” was merged with OneLicense in 2017, all items previously only covered by LicenSing are now covered by OneLicense.