On The Sixth Day of Christmas CCS Gave to Me…

December 13, 2021

The Six Exclusive Rights of Copyright Holders 

In order to understand copyright law and how it impacts your ministry, it’s helpful to first understand the rights that are exclusive to the copyright holder.  Section 108 of the Copyright Act outlines six rights that apply to all copyrighted works. If you want to engage in any activity covered under the exclusive right of a work’s owner, you need to get permission prior. 

  1. Reproduction 

Only the owner of a copyrighted work is allowed to reproduce or copy that work.   Examples: photocopying lyrics, rehearsal track CDs, creating a digital copy of a video 

  1. Making derivative works 

Only the owner of a copyrighted work is allowed to create new works that are “based”  on a pre-existing work. U.S. copyright law describes this derivative work as: 

…a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording,  art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. 

Examples: arrangements of songs, adaptations of plays into movies 

  1. Distribution 

Only the copyright holder can make the work available to the public by sale, rental,  lease, lending, or gifting. There is a “first sale” doctrine that limits the work’s owner’s control to the “first sale” of a copy. This means that if you buy a CD, you are allowed to then re-sell that CD without getting the permission of the work’s owner. 

Examples: giving out CDs of worship service, uploading a music file to a website 

  1. Performance 

The owner of a copyrighted work controls if that work will be performed publicly. US  copyright law defines a public performance as: 

…an instance of music being performed “in a place open to the public or at any place  where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its  social acquaintances is gathered.”  That is the legal definition and most church performances, with the exception of during a religious service, fit the criteria. 

Public performances extend to more than just in-person performances. Playing music on  TV, radio, and the Internet is also under the control of the work’s owner. 

Examples: concerts, music played at church social events, on-hold music 

  1. Public display 

The owner of a copyrighted work controls if that work will be displayed publicly. This right is like the performance right, but it is for visual works such as photos or videos. The criteria for a public display are the same as those for public performances detailed above. 

Examples: hanging photos in an office building, displaying a photograph during a worship service 

  1. Digital recording performance 

The owner of a sound recording controls if, and when, that work will be transmitted digitally. This is a relatively new right that was added in “The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995″. 

Examples: streaming a digital sound recording featured in a worship service 

It’s especially important to understand the six exclusive rights so you can fully understand what copyright types and rights are covered in the various available blanket licenses for churches and ministries. If you have any questions about whether you need licensing, simply e-mail us or give us a call at 877-394-5566. 

About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.”  CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches. Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Youtube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. 

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