Monday, August 27, 2007

Could I get some legal advice?

Hi all. We're trying to get our technological act together to podcast our services. As our website folks were enthusiastically describing the horizons they believe this will open for us, a couple of folks raised the issue of what we can legally podcast. Will ASCAP come after us if we podcast the choir' anthem? Do we need to get publisher's permission to broadcast the scripture reading? What about prayers or poems that were written by someone other than the pastor?

After much discussion the conclusion was that I should consult with Very Recently Retired Pastor of the Bigger Church down the street whose congregation has been podcasting for a couple of years already. When I asked VRRP what kind of licensing or legal arrangements they had made before they started podcasting he grinned a bad boy grin and said they just went ahead figuring they'd deal with the legal issues if anyone came after them. In the thirty or so months since they've been podcasting their entire service, they've not heard a peep from any legal eagles.

Somehow, I don't think I can, in good conscience, advise our congregation to proceed with that same devil may care attitude. Do any of you podcast your service? Which parts? What kind of licenses/permits/copyrights have you obtained before doing so? Is there a website that explains in layperson's language exactly what the legal issues are? Thanks.


Elaine said...

When I was asked similar questions by my church's music department, I did a google search on church copyright and got my questions answered quickly.

I just tried it again, and one of the things that I found was this podcast.
I haven't listened to it, but it seems to address most of your questions.

The real problem with trying to answer your questions (ignoring things like that I'm not licensed to practice law in your State and don't do copyright law anyway) is that I don't know what kinds of licensing you already have in place -- so I can't tell you what they do and don't cover.

Norman, OK

PPB said...

We only podcast sermons. Once in a while, we'll podcast an anthem if it's in the public domain, but the university's lawyers said that while we might be legal to podcast more, they wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. (We do still make CDs of the entire service for shut-ins.)

Purechristianithink said...

We have CCLI and LicenSing--but my understanding is that these only cover use of a piece in worship--i.e. singing it or printing it in the bulletin, or projecting it, (if we had a screen in the sanctuary which we don't.)

PPB said...

You're right--that's all that CCLI covers. They offer a version of CCLI for podcasting, but it's around 1000 bucks a year.

We also found that people who wanted a podcast really only wanted one of two things: the anthem (which we don't do) and the sermon (which we do.) They didn't want the length of the prayers and hymns and all that.

It's at times like these that I think Jonathan Edwards really had it easy.