“Treat” Yourself to a Better Understanding of the Religious Service Exemption

October is a month of bright, colorful leaves, crisp Autumn days (ok, maybe not in the southern part of the country) and Halloween! Cooler air brings a flurry of church activities and events, from trunk or treat for the little ones to fall festivals for the entire family. Music plays a large role in many of these events – but what  about copyright licensing requirements? Is your church exempt?

Understanding licensing and the Religious Service Exemption (RSE) can be confusing. So, it’s especially important during the fall and holiday season for churches to identify what they need for coverage and make sure the songs they want to play or perform are licensed.  

It’s often assumed the U.S. Copyright Law exemption allows churches to use copyrighted music. However, this isn’t always the case. The RSE applies only to actual religious services, not events held outside of these services (a category many fall and holiday programs are under). Many churches also plan on webcasting music performances, such as the worship team during a service or a special holiday program. While the RSE allows churches (and non-profit religious organizations) to play and perform copyrighted music without paying royalties in  their worship service, this exemption does not extend to re-transmission of the service.

To help clarify what churches need in the way of licensing, we address the most prevalent myths surrounding the RSE in our FREE download – 5 Myths About the Religious Service Exemption. This exemption allows churches to use music without permission in certain situations, but there are other areas where churches are still liable if they do not have the proper licenses. Your church can better understand the ins and outs of the exemption to avoid liability and ensure copyright compliance.

Church leaders are busy enough this time of year. Go the holiday season, with the knowledge that you won’t be “tricked” anymore by copyright confusion. And if you do find you have any additional questions, a copyright expert is available by calling 1-855-576-5837 or chatting with us online.

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