This Guide shares some of the most critical guidelines for obeying copyright laws as they pertain to copying scripture from many versions and commonly used sources. It also offers practical advice regarding the copying and distribution of music. Internet and third party sources of scripture and music are emphasized.
1. Home Church Online material:
All Home Church Online material is written within the following copyright guidelines:
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSIONÒ. NIVÒ. Copyright Ó1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
All quarter, unit and session themes and outlines: Copyright © 2001-2006 by BAPTISTWAY PRESS®. All rights reserved.
All descriptive material and session content: Copyright © 2001-2006 by Home Church Online™. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or sharing of the material or changes to the material in any form is not permitted.
2. The confused state of copyright law:
As soon as material is uploaded onto the Internet and/or downloaded from the Internet, it becomes more complicated to know when copyright law is being followed and when such law is violated. Home Church Online is committed to obeying both the letter and the spirit of all international copyright laws.
Every published Bible or portion thereof is guided by differing copyright permissions. A good source of information regarding Bible copyrights can be found at biblegateway.com. That site also provides users free access to many versions and languages of the Bible. Many are in the “public domain” and may be freely copied and distributed. Some may only be copied if you write out your own copy. Others are restricted by the amount of material copied. Some must not be even quoted in writing without written permission of the copyright holder.
Those who use Bible software should understand that each publisher imposes various restrictions on the use of copies of their software. For instance, the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible may be used and distributed as “public domain”. However, if you make multiple copies of a KJV passage from certain Bible software publishers, you may be in violation of copyrighted access to their “copy” of the KJV.
Home Church Online uses the New International Version (NIV) and writes out its own copy for two reasons: first, it is the most popular version used by laypersons in the English language. Second, the copyright rulings are reasonably clear and make available sufficient usage for our purposes of writing and publishing. When other versions are quoted, proper documentation is presented each occasion.
Religious music publishing and subsequent copyright laws held by publishers can appear brutal. It has become that way in part to protect the need of writers and publishing firms to receive just compensation for their work. However, today it goes much further. Even old music (back to the 1940’s) that no one cares to publish is sold by most religious publishers to wholesale copyright buyers. They in turn keep tight control over their “holdings”. Anyone who dares to violate their copying rights places themselves at grave risk. They make their money by looking for violators and suing them for vast sums of money. Take care that any words or musical scores that you copy is within the public domain unless you have written permission from the publisher or you hold a “CCLI” license for your church and they have it listed.
Hymns from before the 1930’s and 1940’s are now mostly (but not all) in the public domain. Home Church Online materials only use such hymns in the context of the sessions. You may wish to substitute newer songs with more easily understood concepts and language in some cases.
The Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) offers the best and easiest way to legally copy and distribute both words and “lead sheets” (melody scores with guitar and other notations). Different levels of access and copy permissions are available for very reasonable rates, depending on your needs. The website: ccli.com is easy to access and follow. We highly recommend that every church wanting to copy music, create praise song collections, etc. for their home church look seriously at obtaining a CCLI license.