Trumping Copyright

Today we’re featuring a guest post by Kind of Bored. He’s a man who needs no introduction so I’m giving him none.

Romans 13: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God…”  If you read the KJB extra-carefully, you’ll see that there’s a loophole for photocopying something that will really, really enhance the ministry. (It’s right there next to ignoring speed limits, the list of English common-law precepts that we’d really like to see recognized today and the invalidity of the 16th amendment.)

You see, the Great Commission involves ministry, and ministry requires  materials. We ought to obey God rather than men, amen? It doesn’t matter if the “DO NOT COPY THIS, YOU DIRTBAG!” watermark on the sheet music (and there’s something wrong about a publishing house understanding the need to bother with those on “Christian” materials) was made by a web press or a Xerox copier; it’s how many souls are saved and spirits are uplifted. It’s a fascinating mix of sanctified pragmatism at best and downright Boss Hogg thievery at its most blatant.

Granted, there are many churches that obey the law and procure their materials the ethical way; there are also current and former choir members who have ministered while singing from a sheet of purloined music and lyrics. (What would happen if a choir member or Sunday school teacher would refuse to sing/teach using ill-gotten materials? Hmm.)

Illegally downloading U2? A peck of sin. Getting a sample from a music publishing house or Regular Baptist Press and making 60 copies? Fiscally responsible ministering, brother! Oh, and bonus points are awarded if the song/lesson centers on holiness, honesty or integrity.

35 thoughts on “Trumping Copyright”

  1. Sometimes these folks show up in the local library – their church copier must not be working – and kvetch when the librarians don’t let them copy copyrighted material. “But we do it all the time at church!”

  2. Don’t forget modern copiers have a hard drive on them. Everytime you break a law, it’s documented. Nowadays, *they* retrieve the hard drive, then start issuing the fines. Folks, it’s cheaper to do it legally than to pay the fines. Besides, how is God honored by law breaking?

  3. After using RBP for years (and we did buy all the individual booklets!), our church now uses a Sunday School curriculum that allows (requires) copying of the pages for the students. Maybe the publishers were acknowledging were going for that law-breaking tendency in fundy circles? If you can’t fight ’em, join ’em?

  4. My favorite fundy scofflaw activity is the piracy of software. Isn’t it doubly wrong if you steal Bible software?

    (and this is among the reasons I I work on the Mission Disk project which promotes open source, free, and legal software for churches and organizations.)

  5. I have been waiting for MONTHS for Uncle KOB to tell us a story and this is what we get?? No decapitated heads? No frightened children? Worst campfire story ever. He is no longer my favorite uncle.

  6. LOVE IT! There was only 1 teacher at my IFB school (the computer teacher) who would stand up for copyright laws. I’m pretty sure other teachers were still making illegal copies for their classrooms. I just love the blank stares you get when you try to explain copyright laws, & publishing company rights & author rights to fundies. You’d think the book wrote & printed itself! 🙂 Love this topic!

  7. BUT Fundies are all about copyright laws when it comes to Bible versions.

    Those other perversions are copyrighted, but the KJB isn’t copyrighted because GOD WROTE IT, amen?

  8. Yep, If God didn’t copyright the King James then nothing else ministry related should be either. Movie Night is another one where the IFB says “Liscenses? We don’t need no stinking liscenses!”

  9. In a similar vein, how about showing “films” in church and ignoring the plea for honesty from the producers right in the opening material of the film? Some Christian movies require a site licence for a public showing, like Provident films. According to the copyright restrictions on Facing the Giants, there were two site licences available; one for a small church of about 100 and one for over 100. I had to go to battle for that one in our church, but, to his credit, the pastor saw the light and did the right thing after he’d sputtered about it. We paid the $80 and got the special edition for public showing, to boot. AND helped fund Fireproof.

    And don’t get me started on copying old RBP material!!

  10. Obtaining music and video licensing from CCLI is relatively inexpensive. Many churches do not know or care to know that posting lyrics in the bulletin, on an insert or on a screen requires permission.

  11. This is the same mentality that Kent Hovind (“Dr. Dino”) and Sam Gipp used to avoid paying taxes. Hovind said his Florida theme park (no permits or approval from the city to operate) was a “missions” organization and that the people that worked there were “missionaries”, exempt from withholding taxes, SS, etc. Gipp on the other hand stated (I heard him state this on more than one occasion in person), that his proceeds of his book sales do not go to him but go back to finance his book “ministry”.

  12. Bible Baptist Church of Oak Harbor runs an unaccredited church school because they don’t believe that the state has any say in how they run their school. Fine. But they recommend that parents pay their tuition labeled as “school ministry” so that their tuition is tax deductible. So I guess it is OK to get around tax law as long as it is for a good cause?

  13. And, remember different licenses are for different things. A CCLI, for example, will get you permission to put lyrics on a screen, but not neccessarily in the bulletin. And projecting music? Forget it unless you have Joel Osteen’s budget. And, movie nights? You need a CVLI for that. To print music in your bulletin – probably OneLicense for that. Investigate. Most licenses aren’t expensive and they keep you legal.

  14. I was just invited to a fundraiser at a fundy christian school on Saturday night. They will be showing “The Blind Side” and tickets are $4.50. No, they don’t have a license.

  15. And, selling tickets for a movie fundraiser requires special permission from the copyright holder. BTW, I prolly sound like a bull dog on this, but these copyright laws are vicious. They go after the church, the pastor, the staff, even the governing board, individually and collectively, all can be held liable for this stuff. It’s not worth it. Really, it isn’t.

    1. What they need to to do is follow Paul’s advice in Scripture. Go to the church to work out any differences between fellow Christians. Lawsuits are reprehensible for a Christian.

  16. Fantastic post I must say! I now understand copyright laws! 🙂

    One thing that bugged the poop out of me was at my old IFB church right before I left. In the youth group, they were creating a “music library” in which students could come and “check out” a cd to “listen to”…aka. RIP AND BURN! When my sister told me about it, I instantly knew what the deal was. And even though I don’t go there now, I’m still against it.
    And CCLI. Ah yes. Sadly, I never really understood it, and so, I guess you would say I broke the law dozens of times in our youth group. I hold that fault knowingly now. Thankfully, the main service part of the church actually does use CCLI (at least for most songs).
    And the movie license thing? Yeah. Pretty sure most places break that one. Churches and not.

    And I think Stuart B is right. U2? SFL? This could mean flame for us all!

  17. Well then, in the immortal words of Johnny Storm, “Flame On!” …cause U2 is in the house… along with Talking Heads and they’re “Burning Down the House.” Guess I’ll have to turn in my IFB-KJVO secret decoder ring and IFB Membership card now.

  18. @Dan Keller: is that true about the copiers having hard drives that are monitored, or is that just an end-times conspiracy theory? cause if it’s true, i’m in all sorts of trouble…

  19. The newer ones do. So, don’t photocopy your face or your butt, and, have a techie type erase the hard drive before turning it in. Also, if your church has a CCLI, it’s probably good for worship and youth group. There’s a phone number on your church’s license. Call them, give them your license number and they’ll tell you what your church is allowed to do.

  20. And then there’s my (in)famous former employer who was so worried about such things — “because of all schools they really want to sue us most of all” — that they refused to acknowledge any “educational use” for anything. They assumed that every use of every document was simply “commercial” and under commercial law.

    Then again, based on its tax exempt status, maybe they were right after all. ::face palm::

    <3 the post, btw!! LOVE IT!

  21. Why do song writers need to copywrite all their music and whant money every time it is played? But as a minister I am more than happy to have someone else use one of my sermons if they feel it can further the work of the Lord. I guess it’s all about the money for the “worship” guys not the spreading of God’s word.

      1. It just gets to me because of all the music guys I have been around in the church want to copywright and protect every blessed thing they write. But the preachers seem to have their priorities on ministering the gospel. I seen many of our leadership in the Assemblies of God give away thousands of their books. Or sell them at cost or below. There just seems to be a disconnect to me.

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