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What About Copyright

Questions and Answers

What about copyright?

Why does a congregation need to be concerned about copyright matters?

A copyright is a legal right that belongs exclusively to the creator or an assigned owner of an original work (e.g., a hymn text or tune, a musical arrangement, a set of prayers).

Only the copyright owner can decide how a work may be reproduced, distributed, performed, or adapted.

While churches generally are allowed to perform material within a worship service by purchasing printed copies of the music, churches are not exempt from the copyright law when it comes to photocopying text or music for any purpose.


Why is permission needed for material copyrighted by Augsburg Fortress or the ELCA? Don't our benevolence dollars "pay" for materials produced by the church?

Permission is required for any reproduction of copyrighted material by individuals, congregations, churchwide organizations, or other publishers. There is no "blanket" permission for churches.

Further, creative people such as writers, composers, and artists deserve to be paid for the work they do on behalf of the church. These people are paid primarily through the sale of printed copies of their work and of copyright licenses. Augsburg Fortress is a self-supporting organization and is not funded by ELCA benevolence dollars.


Where can I learn more about copyright?

Much more information can be found in the Guide to Copyright section of this Web site.

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