Movies in Church

copyrightwarningHow many times has this happened to you (sounds like the opening of a bad infomercial?) You have a youth group meeting and you are going to show a DVD movie to the group. You purchased the movie yourself, or someone else has loaned you their copy. No admission or entrance fee is being charged. No problem, everything is above board.

Actually there is a problem.  According to the law, this is considered a public showing of a copyrighted film. As such, it is subject to the Federal Copyright of 1976 which stipulates that violations can result in substantial fines.  How much? Even inadvertent infringement is subject to substantial civil damages, ranging from $750 to $30,000 for each work. In our current litigious society, do you really want to take that chance?

Fortunately, there are resources and options that can alleviate this concern.  Just like the licenses for music and print, which I have talked about earlier, there are licenses you can obtain for video.  CCLI offers church video licensing which will allow you to legally show movies for such things as sermons, Sunday school, classes and special events.  Other resources are:

Copyright Guidelines for Churches from Episcopal Church Foundation
Motion Picture Licensing Association
Church Publishing – Showing Movies in Church

Let’s see you at the movies, not see you in court!

Photo: Wikimedia