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Ask Robert McEwen, Esq. Your Own Question
Robert McEwen, Esq.
Robert McEwen, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 15746
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Im a minister, and we do worship in the meetings. We use

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I'm a minister, and we do worship in the meetings. We use the songs that we listen at the church, we don't make yet our own songs of worship. My question is? if we sing songs that are from other authors, How the fair use guidelines apply in my ministry? I want to be sure, I don't need copyright permission if I sing a song that belongs to someone else. Thanks.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Fair use almost certainly would protect you, particularly if you're not charging for individuals to attend the service.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

You may receive some nasty letters from CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International), the main group that handles copyright issues for Christian songs. But they don't tell you that CCLI doesn't sue churches (bad for business, and certainly non-biblical). Furthermore, even if they would, fair use would almost certainly be a valid basis to defend such a lawsuit.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

I wish I could give you some case law that supports what I'm telling you, but in this situation, silence is deafening. That is, there is no case law, which indicates that there have been no lawsuits.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

So while you could get a CCLI license to reproduce words, sing the songs, etc... you almost certainly would be covered by fair use (which technically is a defense to trademark infringement, rather than a complete bar to being sued in the first place...) if you were to be sued. But the likelihood that you would be sued would be next to zero.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

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