How the Religious Service Exemption Impacts Churches

Many pastors and worship leaders believe the US Copyright Law does not apply to church ministries because they are a non-profit organization. While this may seem to be just “wishful thinking,” there is, in fact, an exemption in the law that gives churches (and all non-profit religious organizations) a free pass in very specific situations. It’s called the Religious Service Exemption (RSE) and found in Section 110(3) of the Copyright Law.

The exemption is vital for churches but can also be very confusing for church leaders to understand and identify what it covers and what it doesn’t include. There’s a lot of misinformation or myths when it comes to the RSE, so let’s break it down in simple terms and address common questions.

First, here’s what the exemption states:

performance of a non-dramatic literary or musical work or of a dramatico-musical work of a religious nature or display of a work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly” shall not constitute infringement of copyright.

We have color coded three important sections of the exemption that focus on the 1) type of copyright (red); 2) the type of exclusive right (blue), and 3) the setting (green). Download our FREE Fact Sheet on the Religious Service Exemption and learn the three key factors that will help you understand how to apply the exemption to your church’s activities. Click here NOW.

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 TwitterFacebook, and YouTube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.