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Adapted with permission from Church Law & Tax Report

What do these have in common?

Duplicating copyrighted choral music.

Producing audio or video recordings of church services in which copyrighted music is performed.

Photocopying "chorus booklets" or similar compilations of familiar church songs.

Making overhead transparencies of copyrighted music.

Showing a rented "Chariots of Fire" video during the senior high lock-in.

Running off an extra copy of music for an accompanist.

Inserting copyrighted hymn lyrics in bulletins or worship programs.

Answer? They all break copyright law. A church can be liable for fines from $500 to $20,000 for a single infringement, and up to $100,000 if the infringement was intentional. Copyright law has teeth.

But following copyright regulations can be time consuming, costly, and inconvenient. Compliance menaces worship services, Sunday bulletins, and the Christmas cantata.

Copyright law may seem designed to make writers, composers, and publishers rich at the local ...

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