Ash Wednesday Is Next Week: What Are You Giving up for Lent?

Ash Wednesday (March 1 this year) signals the beginning of Lent when many Christians give up or abstain from certain activities or habits. Lent is a 40-day season before Easter, when Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.

As a church leader, you may want to consider giving up or abstaining from using copyrighted works without having proper licensing or permission. This may seem a bit light hearted about a solemn spiritual practice, but it could help you and your team think more seriously about why it’s important to honor copyright owners.

Many Christian leaders have a vague sense of guilt when they’re burning CD copies, emailing MP3 files, or making photocopies of an octavo or songbook, but they often think, “Gosh, we’re a non-profit organization, we’re doing God’s work, and who’s going to know anyway?”

So, what’s the big deal? Why is it important to understand copyright issues, and how can it affect your church’s life of worship and ministry? To the point…why is it important for the Church to honor copyrights?

I believe with all my heart that God has such a greater and more magnificent purpose for the Church to “honor copyrights” than we can possibly imagine. Because He is the Creator and we are created in His image and therefore designed to be creative, He wants to pour out a rich blessing of new and anointed songs and creative expressions.

I believe that when we honor what God honors, He delights in blessing us.

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

Here are some of the most common reasons I hear from church leaders on why they choose copyright compliance:

  1. To avoid the risk and liability of lawsuits and fines;
  2. To obey the laws of the land (the US Constitution {Section 110[3]} protects copyrighted works as intellectual property);
  3. To be a good witness to our communities;
  4. To abide by scripture guidelines (Rom. 13:1-2);
  5. To honor and support authors and artists;
  6. To help GIVE MUSIC LIFE…be a part of supporting songwriters and creatives;
  7. God blesses us with a fresh outpouring of new songs and creative works.

When church leaders or decision makers establish the commitment to BECOMING copyright compliant, it’s essential that they communicate the why, or the reason, behind copyright policies and procedures. It can really help in involving your teams and ministries in a unified approach to honoring copyrights. One of the keys is understanding that BECOMING copyright compliant is a PROCESS and it takes time and a unified effort.

Susan Fontaine Godwin is CCS’s founder/CVO, an educator and long-time member of the Christian arts community with 30 years of experience in the Christian media industry, church copyright administration and copyright management. Susan is an author and speaker and frequently writes for several Christian magazines and online publications. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Mobile.

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, as well as representation, administration, and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal