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Who has actually been sued?

Several times at my part-time church, I have discussed copyright laws, but have always been told that they've never actually heard of a church who has been fined or sued for infringement.  So I have done a couple of Google seaches, and they're right - there are all kinds of articles and sights, but not a single headline or report of a specific church or school paying a fine for copyright violations.  I have no desire to revel in someone else's misery, but it would help my folks know that it really is important - that it's not something I just made up.
Replies (46): Threaded | Chronological
on March 13, 2015 1:13pm
It is very unlikely, I think, that any person or organization will admit to having been sued in a copyright infringement case, regardless of the outcome, for a multitude of reasons.  If it has happened, it is also very likely that they tried extremely hard to keep the fact quiet and hidden from the general public, so I'm not surprised that you can't find anything with a Google search.
It is also profoundly disheartening and depressing to think that any choir of any kind anywhere would ONLY be interested in following copyright laws if they thought they might be caught and sued for not following them. 
You might try reminding your church choir folks about one of the Ten Commandments, that pesky one that says, "Thou shalt not steal."  Violating copyright law is stealing, stealing money (very hard-earned income) from composers, publishers, and distributors that they would have made had the copyright laws been obeyed.
Thank you for trying to educate them.  Please keep trying.
Applauded by an audience of 21
on March 13, 2015 2:13pm
I am reminded of a clipped out cartoon Carl Fischer had on the wall of their Chicago branch in the choral department, back in the days you could go to their actual physical store.  It was a cartoon of a person standing in front of a church  who wanted to speak with someone in charge. The church secretary told him something like, "the senior minister is on retreat, the youth minister is tinkering with the church bus, the custodian is dusting pews and the choir director is in jail due to copyright infringement."  I thought it was hilarious and a bit scary!
Applauded by an audience of 8
on March 13, 2015 3:00pm
Applauded by an audience of 6
on March 14, 2015 3:17am
Sounds like "successful" is in the eye of the beholder!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 14, 2015 9:52am
Despite the reduction of the award and the difficulties faced by the publisher, I would call a church having to pay a 6-figure settlement "successful."
Applauded by an audience of 4
on March 16, 2015 5:05am
The publishing industry has precious little to threaten us with, so any judgement is trumpeted. "Six figures" is a pittance among billions. It is up to our integrity to protect our composers so they have the incentive to keep working.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 24, 2015 1:18pm
You mean, "protect publishers", not "composers". Publishers only give composers 5-10% of the money you spend on a score.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 24, 2015 2:50pm
"Publishers only give composers 5-10% of the money you spend on a score."
True. This is why so many composers (and authors, and other creative folks) are turning to self publishing in order to try to receive a decent return on their investment of time and energy instead of the pittance they receive from traditional publishers of all kinds, not to mention the much more desirable situation of retaining the copyrights to and the management of their works, which enables the creators, for example, to remain in control of the length of time any published work stays "in print."
Of course, self publishing carries with it a different set of problems...
Applauded by an audience of 4
on March 14, 2015 4:59am
Julia touches on the fallibility of the proverbial Google search, but another thing to consider is that news organizations do not report on every single legal action that is taken. A dispute over some photocopying might well be thought too mundane to be of interest to a readership known to be swayed mostly by tales of blood and horror or, at the very least, by sums of money far larger than the price of some anthems.
Additionally, and perhaps more significant, is the fact that the majority of such actions never reach the point of filing a suit because the scary letter from the publisher's lawyer results in immediate capitulation and a settlement. Costly for the church involved, to be sure, but something which can be completely hidden from the public view and from the web-crawling minions of Google.
We should never assume that the internet knows all. That is far, FAR from the truth.
Applauded by an audience of 11
on March 14, 2015 5:03am
My outlook is one of self interest.  if I don't pay for the sheet music I use, there will be less and less available, as no one will go to the trouble of providing it.  Of all places, churches are expected to be held to a higher standard of moral principles.  Thou shall not steal.
Applauded by an audience of 16
on March 14, 2015 5:45am
Primary reason you don't read about copyright infringement actions with a church defendant is because the matter settles quickly usually before litigation,  and the settlement agreements contain non-disclosure agreements (gag clauses).  In any event, the press coverage would be nominal because the event is not sensational. However,  the unstated risk of the plaintiff's widespread news and social media disclosure of the infringement is a motivational factor for speedy settlement agreement with gag clause.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on March 14, 2015 7:53am
This site doesn't focus on choral music, but the cases (described in plain English, not legalese) are truly fascinating and instructive anyway.  Some well-known defendants include Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Apollo Records, National Broadcasting Company, Coca-Cola Company, John Williams, McDonalds Corp., Michael Jackson, EMI Records, and Elton John:
Music Copyright Infringement Resource
(Representative Case list, years 1844-2013)
Sponsored by the Columbia Law School and the USC Gould School of Law
And here’s an interesting article:  The Music Copyright Enforcers, by John Bowe, New York Times, Aug. 6, 2010:
Applauded by an audience of 2
on March 14, 2015 8:24am
P.S.  Shared to show that there are many different types of copyright infringements beyond illegally photocopying sheet music.
on March 14, 2015 8:57am
So your church's princple of moral behavior is that it's okay if you can get away with it?
Applauded by an audience of 3
on March 16, 2015 7:41am
A propos of what, Alan???
on March 14, 2015 9:14am
For anybody who is interested, here is a great article about the surprising history of copyright law as it pertains to music: Owning Music: From Publisher's Privilege to Composer's Copyright, by Michael W. Carroll at the Villanova University School of Law (Aug. 13, 2004).  Free download here:
From the Abstract
“For the first time in legal scholarship, the Article reveals and examines the distinct early history of copyright in music and relates this history to contemporary conflicts. The historical investigation covers the pre-copyright era in England and Europe (1500-1700), the eighteenth century in England when the first copyright law was enacted (1710) and then applied to music (1777), and American history from the beginning of the printing trade in the latter seventeenth century, through the adoption of copyright as a constitutional good (1787) and as the subject to federal statutory protection (1790), ending in 1831, when the Copyright Act was amended to included "musical compositions" as the appropriate subject matter for copyright protection.”
From the Introduction:
“For, ironically, although music copyright owners are among the most aggressive groups seeking to expand the concept of copyright today, their forbears in England resisted the very idea that copyright should apply to music. As this Article relates, music became copyrightable in England primarily through litigation brought by professional composers against music publishers during the eighteenth century. The capstone case was brought by the most famous composer in London at the time, Johann Christian Bach, youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach and one of the important musical influences for young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Nearly seventy years after copyright had been invented in England, the Court of King’s Bench ruled that musical compositions also were subject to copyright protection.(12)”  
From the Conclusion:
“Consequently, the modern battle to reallocate rights in music should be understood as lacking any clear precedent. The question is how rights or liberties should be allocated under current conditions. The Bach case suggests a useful focus—identifying the activities from which the author should be entitled to profit.(321)  In 1777, the law gave the right to profit from printing to the author and from performance to the professional performer. Under contemporary conditions, with a far greater range of uses of music possible, which of these should be understood to belong exclusively to the composer? My view is that composers should control only the minimum number of uses necessary to stimulate a vibrant musical economy.(322) Making that determination should be done with reference to the current economics of making, marketing, and distributing music.”
on March 14, 2015 10:46am
Wow.  That is the lamest argument ever!
As Allan and others have said in their pithy remarks, independent of the issue itself, just test the argument by applying the logic to its ultimate conclusion:
1) “It is o.k. to do anything if there isn’t a policeman, IRS, judicial system prosecuting the offenders”, or, “obey the commandments only if others are being punished for breaking it (and if no one has seen others being punished, they are o.k. to break)”, or “submitting to the law is only necessary when there is proof of enforcement and prosecution”;
2) “so, if no one were prosecuted for murder, murder would be o.k, but since they are, then murder is wrong”.
Sort of reminds me of a well quoted line from Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov ” . . . without God and immortal life, all things are permitted . . .  .“  (or, "without enforced laws then everything is permissable").
If this coming from clergy, or a church employee (such as a business administrator), do they apply the same standard to paying the church utility bills, vendors, employees, etc? If so, run, don’t walk! [joke] Regardless of who is giving you this line you have a great opportunity to educate and lead them to the right, higher, moral standard by showing them the absurdity and contadiction of thier argument, especially when held to thier own beliefs.
On another level, I could tell you the story of a Christian song writer who was able to feed and care for his family and continue writting sacred songs only because CCLI enabled him to recieve compensation from the churches who were previously copying his music without his permission.
It is not just the law, it is the right thing to do.

Applauded by an audience of 7
on March 16, 2015 12:01am
I find it more likely that the choir members are simply not really aware of HOW breaking of copyright law harms composers and creators. Giving them an example of real-world repurcussions is a related but different subject.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on March 16, 2015 11:35am
For anyone who is still struggling to understand the issues, or who is trying to raise awareness or educate others about the issues, here is a list of resources which these ChoralNet conversations about copyright law have generated so far:
on March 16, 2015 4:17am
I have an acquaintance who oversees a choir with virtually no budget for music. If she could purchase music she most certainly would. She said, however, that the most important thing is to "spread the art" (in her words) - to perform good music and to allow an audience to hear the same. In her opinion, no one should be deprived of listening/performing great music simply because of a lack of financial resources - in her words, "punished for being poor."
She utilizes CPDL a lot, but for most other works her two options are 1) copy the music, or 2) don't perform it. In both situations the composer and publisher won't make any money, but in one scenario at least the music is being performed and heard. She borrows music when she can, but she is quick to point that the outcome is the same as in copying - no money goes back to the composer or publisher.
I found her arguments to be ones that merit much further discussion yet are often avoided.
on March 16, 2015 7:10am
Further discussion? Fair enough. Here's some further discussion:
1) These deeply flawed arguments begin by completely ignoring the real problem, the inadequate budget, and making no effort whatsoever to address it. There would be no need for illegal and immoral photocopying if that problem were solved. There are many creative ways to raise the relatively small amount that would be needed to supply the choir with newly purchased music each year. When we just blithely skip over the honest solution and go right to the easier way, regardless of morality, we give up any claim to being an organization that exists to better our world. We become, instead, yet another example of situational ethics in which our perceived "needs" and sweet good intentions outweigh any concern about honesty, legality or morality. 
There is really no need to extend the discussion any further--the blatant theft inherent in illegal photocopying should rule it out immediately and permanently. But for the sake of discussion, per your request, let's keep looking:
2) The idea that no one should be deprived of great music because of poverty is just stupid. Poverty is going to impose many deprivations upon its victims and most of them will be far worse than the lack of sheet music. I would imagine your colleague considers that poverty should not be allowed to deprive people of food, clothing and shelter either, and that those necessities would rate well above such luxuries as quality music. And yet, I'll bet that she does not (at least publicly) advocate stealing food, clothing and shelter in order to provide them for the poor. But if it is not acceptable to steal even to provide the necessities of life, how can we possibly justify stealing for luxuries like printed music?
3) The suggestion that society is imposing "punishment" on people for being poor makes no sense. Thousands of years of human history show that a segment of all societies has always experienced some degree of want. No human system yet devised has been able to permanently eradicate this phenomenon. It's to our credit that we continue to grapple with this problem in the face of its demonstrated intractability. To attempt to portray the existence of poverty as the result of deliberate malfeasance, and then spread the blame on the vast majority of folks who have actually been trying to solve the problem, is grotesque and reprehensible. Showering invented guilt on society at large will not even feed people who need to be fed, let alone supply printed music to the choruses of the world. Let's all agree to permanently sink the sick, twisted phrase about people being "punished for being poor".
4)  The imginary "choice" between copying and not performing is only a choice if honesty, legality and morality are going to be completely ignored. In truth, there is only one correct option.
5) The argument that copying at least allows the music to be performed and heard is yet another attempt to excuse theft. If I were the composer or publisher whose work was being considered by a choir that could not afford to purchase copies and a representative approached me about the situation, I might well decide to make a gift of some temporary copies for the performance in question. At least that way I would have the choice, the control, perhaps a small tax deduction and the good feeling that comes of being charitable. When I am simply ignored in the process, the implicit insult is profound. This action states quite clearly that my needs, concerns and rights as the creator/owner of the music are all of such trivial value that there is no need be bothered. Well, if that's the case, why should I bother to continue writing and publishing? I will, however, remember the lesson the next time my car breaks down and I need to borrow one--I'll go steal your colleague's car. Why not? Surely my need outweighs her ownership. I shouldn't be punished for having mechanical problems. And it's better for the car to be used than to sit in her driveway, regardless of her thoughts on the subject.
Bottom line: Your colleague needs to set aside all of this cheap, falsely clever sophistry and solve the real problem: her budget. Her justifications for theft are shallow appeals to sentiment mingled with misdirection. 
Applauded by an audience of 16
on March 16, 2015 4:19pm
As an aside, I agree with your paragraph 2 regarding "luxuries like printed music," but when you talk about stealing "the necessities of life,"'s not so clear to me.  Victor Hugo and many others have written on this topic, and then there's the case of the original inhabitants of our own country, "stealing" to survive amidst the destruction of their culture.
on March 18, 2015 4:29am
Of course the budget is the problem. However, to blame her for that is misguided. She works very hard as a director, facing significant obstacles, and yet in this forum she is faulted for not doing even more.
on March 19, 2015 5:52am
Of course the budget is the problem. However, to blame her for that is misguided.
No one here has blamed her for that. We all understand that if she was designing her own budget it would cover at least the essentials. Please don't accuse the rest of us of blaming the victim--that never happened.
She works very hard as a director, facing significant obstacles, and yet in this forum she is faulted for not doing even more.
And again, no one here has suggested that she should be doing "even more"; I did point out that her priorities might benefit from the budget problem being at the top of her list rather than being ignored completely. I stand by that recommendation.
You started this discussion by suggesting that your colleague's justifications for theft had some merit. I disagreed and attempted to show why they were faulty. Rather than countering my arguments, you have now changed the subject  and tried to portray her as the victim of forum cruelty.
The plain fact is that most directors work hard and most directors face significant obstacles--that's not an exceptional circumstance--but most directors also manage to run their programs without relying on stolen goods. That is a practice which needs to be stopped, not painted as nobility in the face of opposition: there's nothing the least noble about it.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on April 12, 2015 1:59am
Wow -- fabulous answer Dan!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 16, 2015 6:09am
I was recently in a rather heated conversation (aka, I was being yelled at) with the president of one of the major music licensing companies with regard to creating an arrangment of a pop song for my community chorus.  I was complaining that the cost of arranging music controlled by them was way too much ($250 to use our own arrangement, and only for one year).  He told me that we should just raise more money if we wanted to use "good music".  If we wanted to use his, we'd have to pay and he didn't care that we couldn't afford it.  If we couldn't pay, we'd just have to use bad music.
Let's not forget that the ultimate goal of music copyright is to limit people's access to music, not support it.  I'm all in favor of composers getting paid (I'd love to get paid!), but let's not pretend that it's in everyone's best interest.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 16, 2015 8:50am
No, sir.  The ultimate goal of copyright (for all types of creative work) is to ensure that the original creator of a work, and if applicable, the publisher(s) and distributor(s) of that work, are financially compensated (paid) for their hard work in creating (the hardest work of all), publishing, and distributing that work.  If copyright laws did not exist, very few people would write books, compose music, create any kind of reproducible artwork, etc.  No longer are there "rich patrons" who financially support creative individuals in their quest to produce something of value, and copyright law is the only thing that makes it possible and desirable for creative individuals to even try.
And a fervent "Bravo!" to everything Dan Gawthrop wrote.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on March 16, 2015 9:53am
The other goal of copyright, aside from the correct goal of ensuring compensation for those who create the work in question, is to protect the integrity of the work itself, to prevent others from using, or mis-using, it or parts of it. Witness the recent multi-million dollar case  in which a pop (?) performer incorprated wholesale portions of someone else's music. I don't follow the "music industry" closely enough to remember the names, but in the "entertainment" world I guess it was big news. :-/
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 18, 2015 6:18am
"If copyright laws did not exist, very few people would write books, compose music, create any kind of reproducible artwork, etc." 
Is this claim verifiable?
on March 24, 2015 7:31am
Verifiable?  Verifiable?  Have you ever been able to work for free?  (I'm not talking about volunteering somewhere when another job--or person--pays the bills.)  Do you know anyone who can afford to work for free, no matter what their profession?  It totally astonishes me that so many people believe that creative works of any kind simply magically appear out of thin air, and/or that they are, or should be, free of charge for the "end user."
Too many people go through life without creating, or even trying to create, anything of value that they can call their own and are proud to put their names on--something unique that came from their one-of-a-kind minds, hearts, and souls--and thus have no idea how much education, training, practice, practice, practice, blood, sweat, and tears have gone into the creation of any solid, marketable piece of music, a book, a painting, or any other kind of art.
Modern technologies make it possible and quite easy for much creative work to be stolen.  I wish that were not true.
Julia Laylander
(author, composer, artist)
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 16, 2015 1:47pm
the ultimate goal of music copyright is to limit people's access to music
Wrong. The ultimate goal of music copyright is to limit people's access to someone else's music, in the same way that laws against bank robbery are designed to limit people's access to other people's money. It's no surprise that when we talk about snatching cash from somebody's bank account we find widespread public support for laws against it and no one thinks of that as any sort of unfair limitation.
let's not pretend that it's in everyone's best interest
Sorry, wrong again. It is precisely in everyone's best interest to be sure that composers and pubishers can continue to provide the music we need. In any field there will be a few individuals and companies that try to take advantage of a situation, and it sounds as though you may have run into one of them. That does not, however, permit us to conclude that the system is consistently rigged in favor of such folks nor does it justify us in trying to make an end run around the demands of fairness and justice.
Applauded by an audience of 7
on March 21, 2015 3:53am
No, you don't have to use bad music. You need to do more research to find public domain works, or you need to do what he said and raise funds. It's a community chorus. You can do that.
If you want to be regarded as a professional, act like a professional. A professional conductor follows copyright law and doesn't complain about it.
Furthermore, there is a monetary REWARD for turning in copyright offenders. Pay very careful attention to this.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 16, 2015 8:31am
Good Day James,
You put your finger squarely on the problem- “no budget for music”.
Let’s suppose there was no budget for lighting. Would it be reasonable for the church to steal lights simply because there was no budget for them?
Apply this ‘logic’ to any services- everything from a minister to prayer books, from janitorial services to coffee after church. My suggestion is that if there is really no budget for it then it should be considered unimportant and should be dropped altogether. Sometimes it takes this kind of reaction to impress upon people the importance of things that are intangible. If there is no 'value' in music, why sing it? If there is value in music, why not pay for is as one would for anything else of 'value'- tangible and intangible.
Turn off all the lights some Sunday evening and see who is “punished for being poor!” This is a total non-argument!!!
Your friend is indulging in what I can only label archaic thinking; the answers to her question are peppered throughout the foregoing responses, if only she could see them, or if she does ‘see’ them, then to accept them. They are also found throughout the bible and in any prayer book and prayers that I have ever encountered.
As far as borrowing is concerned, I would hazard an opinion that this is a mite better than stealing. Presumably the music would wear out more quickly and new copies would be bought– not stolen.
Thanks for raising the question, Jame; now for some 'education' I hope you can help your friend find a way to remedy the situation in such a way that music and those who compose it are well served. Neither are frills!
Donald Patriquin
Applauded by an audience of 5
on March 16, 2015 10:08am
Try checking with your church's governing body for guidance. For example, the UCC offers this:
I found this and other useful resources by using this search string in Google:
copyright infring* photocop* settlement AND church* OR dioces*

Sarah Hager Johnston, BMus, MLS

Grace Notes Music Research and Writing

Program Notes - Concert Program Design - Audience Surveys - Music Library Services - Editorial Services

Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 16, 2015 8:09pm
The US copyright law was created based on the US Consitution, Article I, Section 8:
"to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to aurhors and Investors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoverires."
So, please respect the creator's/owner's limited excusive right to promote the progress of useful arts.
Applauded by an audience of 5
on March 19, 2015 8:06am
It looks as though Kentaro has been the victim of Autocorrect: it seems to have substituted the word "Investors" where the constitution actually says "Inventors"
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 19, 2015 9:30am
There is a related area of contention that I find interesting: who owns the rights to versions of traditional "folk" songs?  Under what circumstances does a folk song move into the "public domain?"  The Kingston Trio made lots of money with their version of "Tom Dooley," but their copyright managers would share nothing with Frank Proffitt, the poor North Carolina farmer from whom the song was collected a few years earlier.  Fortunately, Frank Warner and Alan Lomax had copyrighted and published this traditional song, and were able to show that this was the Kingston Trio's source.  A settlement was reached, and Proffitt was able to make improvements to his house and farm, get false teeth, and buy shoes for his children.  Similarly, the producers of the film "Deliverance" used the famous "Dueling Banjos" duet that was making the rounds in folk and bluegrass circles, claiming it was an unregulated folk tune.  Co-creator and bluegrass banjo pioneer Don Reno went to court near his home in Kentucky, proved to the judge's satisfaction that he had created the piece, and won a judgement.  On the other hand, some contemporary song writers facing a long and expensive copyright battle simply sigh and consider it the ultimate mark of success when one of their songs "becomes a folksong."
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 20, 2015 6:54am
Wow - Looks like I stirred up quite a hornet's nest.  I think I should clarify: When I've been able to provide substantive information to our leadership, they've responded - more or less.  But we should be aware that there is information out there preaching that copyright laws actually have no bearing whatsoever in churches.  (No, I don't agree, but the sites are there.)  Most of the questions I'm addressing here come from folks in the pews.
We need to remember that for the 'average' person, most music is free.  They don't pay to hear it on radio, TV, internet, satellite, whatever, until you remind them that a sizeable portion of advertising dollars and subscription fees go to pay for the music in some way.  They also think that most musicians are blessed with natural talent.  Nobody taught those pop singers and rock guitarists to play that way; they just do it.
I like to tell people that music is like food.  You may not personally pay for the cookie you're about to eat, but somebody did, and people understand all of the people who have worked to bring a cookie from farm to table.  And I remind people that athletes do have natural abilities, but there's not an NBA star anywhere who has become rich just because he's seven feet tall.
I just hope that we will continue to educate our audiences, parents, congregants, leadership, whoever will listen, that music is a collaborative effort - and those who give their time, talents, and skills need to buy shoes for their kids, too. They deserve to get paid.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on March 21, 2015 3:46am
Right on, Dan Gawthrop!
I have, in several churches, had to go through file cabinets and toss half or more of their contents because they were illegally photocopied. I have educated every church in which I've served, much to the chagrin of pastors, choir members, and council members, but most have come to realize that if they wanted a choir, and the choir had to have music, the purchase had to be funded. I still have people angry at me for tossing copies, but I don't care. I still have people in authority telling me it's just dumb that they have to pay $300 to purchase enough copies of a liturgy to perform it. To which I say, "You get paid, and so should they. We're a church. We can't steal. If you don't want to pay for it, don't use it." I've also heard people say they think the people who write music for churches should do it for free, at which point I ask how they should feed their families. And that, in the end, is what it's about. The people who write music have to share the profits with the publisher who gets the music out there for people to notice. There aren't many wealthy choral composers. Do the right thing and educate everyone.
Applauded by an audience of 10
on March 23, 2015 6:00pm
Here's a simple question.   Would you steal a candy bar?   Or would you steal 24 candy bars, enough for all
your choir members?  
That's a personal question.   You are the only one who knows the answer.
Ruth Jones,  Lancaster, CA
Applauded by an audience of 5
on August 25, 2015 10:13am
Back in the 80's, Kurt Kaiser told me of a time just before service was to begin, he walked out of a large church with arm-loads of photocopied songbooks.  When asked where he was taking them, he replied that he wrote most of the songs, and therefore they were his property.  Also, I know that Stanford Univ. (CA) was fined, and I believe one other, Cal Berkley perhaps.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 26, 2015 8:43am
Composers (in particular) - Inspired by all that is above, I just had a innovative idea... 
A few days ago I came across a YouTube version of a piece of mine from a musical, which I displayed at a major national music conference in May, 2014. I may well have given away single (as opposed to multiple) perusal copies at this time, but have not sold any copies since then. In fact, no copies have ever been sold or given away.  Yet, there it is on YouTube! I will now contact the Canadian church (yes, CHURCH!) which put up the video and ask them where they purchased the copies. If I do not get a satisfactory response I will make the video, and the story behind it, available on THIS string (Who has actially been sued?). In any event I'll keep you posted!
I also recently received word that an American secular choir had performed a work of mine and, after checking with the American publisher, discovered that no copies of this music had been sold to them. There was, of course, the possibility that this was borrowed music, or music possibly obtained from a sheetmusic seller. However, something didn't quite add up, so I looked up the name of the recently arrived conductor and discovered that he/she had had a previous university post. Hmm... just perhaps it came from there, though unlikely. So, I looked up a few videos made by the conductor – presumably while at the university – and I could not believe my eyes! On one of the YouTube video of some fifteen minutes length the conductor is shown holding a demonstration rehearsal, and for some unknown but fortuitous reason (for me) the camera focusses several times on the music in music books being held by the choir. They appear be copies, ALL of them! The music ranges from old to very new, and at times singers are seen reading from single pages that they have removed from their binders! I will also follow this one up in much the same manner as the 'church' example, all the while giving as much 'benefit of the doubt' to the conductors and the institutions involved in each case. It is not my intent to sue anyone, but to remind them (I am convinced they must know already) that what they are doing is simply not nice, in addition to being being dishonest.
Donald Patriquin,
Applauded by an audience of 4
on August 26, 2015 12:49pm
WOW -- Good luck with your investigations, and please do keep us posted here about what you discover.
And, yes, I do think that a bit of "public shaming" (if fully supported with hard evidence) might help prevent future illegal behavior by other choirs. One can only hope.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 27, 2015 8:39am
Just an update: I am no longer serving this church, and copyright discussions had nothing to do with my decision to leave.  (Let me know if you hear of a position in central Dallas!)  While serving there, the music ministry was not involved in any willfull copyright infringement. 
I just did another Google search, and there are still sites that claim churches are exempt from following any copyright laws.  But in addition to those mentioned here, I found a couple of examples of churches that had been sued, mostly related to failures to obtain mechanical licenses.  Law suits should never be the ultimate reason for a church (or any Christian) to follow the law, but if someone asks, it has happened.
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on August 27, 2015 1:13pm
I think that when we composers and choral conductors try to educate the leadership or administration of a church or school about copyright, we are doing a great service not only for ourselves (and the institutions, by helping them avoid legal trouble and moral lapses) but also for all our colleagues and indeed the world of music itself. If I compose or arrange something for a choir I also direct, it doesn't become their property. I'm permitting them to use it. More specifically, I am licensing it to that choir, often on a pro bono basis if composing and arranging isn't part of the employment contract. The only exception to that in the copyright law is the "author for hire" provision, under which copyrightable works produced by employees are the property of the employer. But that must be explicilty stated in writing in the employment contract, and I doubt that any of us would accept such terms.
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on August 28, 2015 9:27am
I have seen churches misinterpret the CCLI license as permission to photocopy all music in their possession (it only applies to praise music by certain publishers).
So let's work on solutions -- in addition to honesty and respecting copyright.Online subscription services such as Prelude Music Planner focus on electronic distribution and one-time licensing for several publishers at one time. Perhaps a fundraiser such as anthem sponsorship might help generate interest in a church's anthem library -- for $50, have a sticker (in honor or in memory of) placed on an athem in the music library, $100 for a major work. Or something similar.
Applauded by an audience of 2
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