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Which License

Questions and Answers

Which license is right for my congregation?

First, consider what material is likely to be copied or reproduced. Is that material covered by the license that you are considering?

Second, look at how that material will be used. While a license may permit photocopying of your weekly bulletin, it may not cover another type of use that you are considering.

Finally, learn as much as possible about the license being considered. There is not one single copyright license that fits every congregation's needs, and only local needs can determine what will be the best fit. For example:
  • If you are interested in reproducing only one particular liturgy, then you may find that purchasing an Augsburg Fortress license for that single liturgy is the best fit for your needs.
  • For many congregations that regularly reproduce a variety of hymns or songs owned by Augsburg Fortress, or like to alternate between the liturgies published in many different publications, the best value will be to purchase the Augsburg Fortress Liturgy and Song License. It covers all of the material in the other Augsburg Fortress liturgy and song licenses, plus many of the songs and hymns that appear in Lutheran Book of Worship, With One Voice, Libro de Liturgia y C├íntico, This Far by Faith, Worship & Praise, and other congregational song collections published by Augsburg Fortress.

Do you have a license that grants permission for our congregation to reproduce all the materials that are copyrighted or administered by Augsburg Fortress?

Augsburg Fortress does not offer a "blanket" license to use every song or liturgy that it owns or administers; for example, there is no Augsburg Fortress license that permits the reproduction of:
  • Choral, instrumental, or handbell music
  • VBS/VBE or Sunday school music or curriculum
  • Worship resources from any Women of the ELCA publication
  • Accompaniments and other materials found only in accompaniment or full music editions of an Augsburg Fortress collection, such as LBW Organ Accompaniments to the Liturgies, Worship & Praise Full Music Edition, and LifeSongs Leaders Edition.
Each Augsburg Fortress copyright license covers the use of specific material under limited circumstances. The terms of the license describe the conditions under which material may be reproduced.


How do I know what material is covered by each license?

Each license includes a detailed listing of the material it covers. If the material is not listed in the license contents, then it is not covered by the license.

Augsburg Fortress liturgy licenses cover only liturgical material, not the hymns and songs, contained in the worship books in which the liturgies were first published.

The Augsburg Fortress Liturgy and Song License listing also specifies the particular elements of the song (text, tune, and arrangement) that are covered by the license. If an element is not listed, then it is either in the public domain or is administered by another copyright holder. That information is found in the copyright notice associated with the song.


If a song or text appears in a book published by Augsburg Fortress, does that mean that it is covered by one of these licenses?

The texts, tunes, and arrangements that appear in Augsburg Fortress publications often originate in many different sources; that is, Augsburg Fortress has obtained only a limited permission to include material in a specific publication, and it cannot be reproduced further without permission from the copyright owner.

The licenses cover only material for which Augsburg Fortress holds or administers the copyright. To reproduce other copyrighted material, you must obtain permission directly from other copyright owner(s) or their authorized representative. (See Copyright Holder List for contact information for many commonly requested copyright holders.)


Where do I find the copyright notice on the song?

The answer to this question varies according to the publication; for example,
For additional information, see the Augsburg Fortress Guide to Copyright.


Hymnals and songbooks use various terms for the elements of a hymn. What's the difference?

Each book has its own style of naming the elements. While there may be some technical distinctions, the following terms have a similar meaning in popular usage and are considered synonymous for these licenses:
  • hymn, song
  • text, words, lyrics
  • stanzas, verses
  • tune, melody
  • arrangement, setting, accompaniment, harmony
  • music, full score (tune with arrangement)

Who can purchase a license?

Any congregation or church-related institution may purchase an Augsburg Fortress license.

Because the licenses are designed to be used only by institutions, these products are not available for purchase by individuals.


How long does an Augsburg Fortress license last?

Annual copyright licenses are available for many popular liturgies as well as songs and hymns. At the end of the annual term, the license will be automatically renewed unless it is terminated using the process described on the invoice.


How much does an Augsburg Fortress license cost?

Complete pricing information is included on the pages about the individual licenses listed in the Licensed Works section.

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