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Church Fined for Copyright Infringement – Could Yours Be Next?

Examples of a Church Fined for Copyright Infringement

Venue Liability for Performance Rights
Case: Polygram International Publishing, Inc. v. NEVADA/TIG, Inc., 855 F. Supp. 1314 (D. Mass. 1994)
Summary: A trade show organizer was ruled liable for the unauthorized performances of copyrighted music of exhibitors during a national trade show. Although the contract signed by exhibitors included clauses that outlined the organizer’s policy on the use of copyrighted works, it did not shift liability. The organizer still retained sufficient control over the exhibitors and could have prohibited exhibits from performing the copyrighted works, but chose not to. The defendant paid $6,000.00 in damages.

Christian Radio Stations
Case: Meadowgreen Music Company v. Voice in the Wilderness Broadcasting, Inv., 789 F. Supp. 823 (E.D. Tex. 1992)
Summary: For Broadcasting copyrighted music without permission, a religious radio station was found guilty of “willful infringement” and paid $52,500 in statutory damages (15 infringements of $3,500.00 each). The station manager defended his actions by claiming that the music was intended for Christian ministry which he was providing through broadcasting their works.

Video Recordings of Concerts
Case: Malaco Incorporated v. Cooper, 2002 WL 1461927 (N.D. Tex. 2002)
Summary: Video recordings were made of a published musician’s concert and made available for sale without authorization. The defendant paid $25,000 for each of the four copyrighted songs on the videos for a total of $100,000.00 plus attorneys’ fees.

CD recordings of Worship Services
Case: Edwards v. Church of God in Christ, 2002 WL 393577 (Mich. App. 2002)
Summary: A professional soloist’s performance during a religious service was recorded, and reproduced onto CDs to be sold. In addition, the solo was miscredited on the product to another musician! The defendant claimed that they were “negligently misappropriated” and was awarded damages of $1,600,000.

Christian Copyright Solutions’ WORSHIPcast license allows churches to stream their performances of more than 16 million Christian and secular songs.