Copyright – A guide for churches (and other places of worship too!)


Copyright is probably something you hardly ever think about and you definitely wouldn’t associate it with religion or worship, would you?

Well, it may not affect religion directly, but Copyright is the law and it affects everyone, everywhere, even churches and places of worship.


So, what is copyright?

By definition, copyright is ‘the sole right to publish’.  This means anything that is protected by copyright can only be used, printed, performed or copied exclusively by its creator unless you have their permission to do the same.  If you use copyrighted material without permission then you could have a law suit on your hands.


And how does this affect our church?

Copyright affects you because the chances are, most of the material you use in your church or place of worship on a day to day basis is copyrighted.  This can include prose extracts, poems, pictures you may print in your newsletters, music used as backing tracks and even lyrics to hymns you project during services or meetings.

Although you can get licenses to cover your use of some original materials, unfortunately there isn’t a licence to cover your use of everything in the world.


Where should I start?

Copyright is such a broad, complicated subject so we’d like to point you in the direction of the United Reformed Church’s ‘Getting to grips with copyright’ guide.  (Yes, we did ask their permission!)

We think this is a fantastic document and although it was written with URCs in mind, we’re confident that the principles and advice within will still be able to help other denominations and organisations alike.

You can view the ‘Getting to grips with copyright’ guide online for free by clicking here


You can purchase a printed copy for just 75p by clicking here.