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Copyrights and Permissions


What is a Copyright?

A copyright is a collection of rights that belong exclusively to the copyright owner. Copyright laws are intended to encourage the creation of new material by assuring that the work of creative individuals is protected. Only the owner or administrator of a copyright has authority to allow another person to exercise any of the owner's exclusive rights.
Sometimes the owner of the copyright is the creator of the work; other times, the owner is a publisher or organization that has been assigned the rights. To determine who holds the copyright, look for the copyright notice: the word copyright (or the symbol "©" or abbreviation "copyr."), a year, and the name of the copyright owner. Churches, schools, and other organizations are not exempt from copyright law. Nonprofit status does not exempt an organization from following the copyright law.

What is "fair use"?

The appropriate use of copyrighted material without prior permission is called a "fair use." The copyright law does not clearly define the limits of fair use, but it does list the following points that must be considered when determining if a proposed use of an exclusive right falls within the scope of a fair use:

  • The purpose and character of the use. (Situations where the user gains from the use of copyrighted material without paying for it are typically outside the bounds of fair use.)
  • The nature of the copyrighted work. (Facts and other compilations of data ordinarily may be reproduced more freely than fiction, poetry, music, or other similar material.)
  • The amount and substantiality of the material used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. (Even a seemingly small amount of material may represent a substantial portion of a work. For example, one stanza of a two-stanza hymn text represents fifty percent of a copyrighted work.)
  • The effect of the use on the value of the existing work. (Copying may not compete with or replace the purchase of the original copyrighted use.)

Many situations that frequently occur in churches and schools are outside the fair use limits. All copying, including that done by churches and schools, is subject to the limits of fair use.  

What does this mean for you?

It means you may only reproduce works you buy from LeaderResources during the time of your license or membership.

It means you also may not use these works outside a licensed context (i.e. in another church or after your license has expired) without permission. Fair use doesn't apply to using our resources, only to writing about them or teaching about them.

It means you must get written permission before quoting any text from a LeaderResources publication in another publication you plan to use in a public, non-educational setting or to sell.

To learn more, download our FREE guide: