We Christians have a bad reputation out there when it comes to copyright violations. We have, for years, photocopied choral music and stolen corporate logos for our youth group T-shirts. I say its time to be “above reproach.”
Much, if not all, of the music we sing in church is copyright protected, and there are some legal and ethical issues you must adhere to. This is discussion 1 of 3:
You probably get that photocopying a copyrighted piece of music would violate the law, but did you know that displaying those same song lyrics on a screen for 285 people is the same as making that many copies?
The most common way churches are ethically and legally paying for the rights to display the lyrics to a copyrighted song is through CCLI (www.ccli.com) . They sell an annual copyright license that, through statistical averaging, pays royalties to the songwriters on your behalf. They cover over 300,000 worship songs and are the most complete service available. The fee is based on your average weekly attendance and, in my opinion, is more than reasonable.