Hymns & Copyright Laws: Part One

You’ve probably seen a comment on my site somewhere along the way that read something like this… “Sorry I can’t create an arrangement of (whatever hymn title) because it’s still under copyright law.”

How to know if a hymn is still under copyright?  Open a hymnal to any hymn and look at the bottom of the page. You will be looking for the symbol © or the word “copyright” with a year.

cropped-copyright-one

Copyrighted hymns fall into two categories:  Hymns written before 1978 and Hymns written after 1978.  I’ll cover the first category of copyrighted hymns in this article.

A. Copyrighted hymns written before January 1, 1978

To make a long story short…Copyrighted hymns published before 1978 are “automatically protected from the moment of its creation for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death.”

http://www.copyright.gov/

 

So…what’s so important about knowing this information?  Misuse of someone’s copyrighted song without their permission (such as: making photocopies, creating a recording of the song for profit or non-profit use)  is a form of stealing and therefore a federal offense.

Disclaimer:  The information shared in this article is not intended as legal advice; but rather to enlighten the reader.

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