Copyright 101: Copyright Myth #4
Myth 4. It's for Educational Purposes.
Counting down the top ten myths, false beliefs, and misperceptions about church music copyright, none of which are true.
Explanation: The myth is that if a Sunday School class or some other small group in the church wants to study, discuss, debate, or otherwise use a copyrighted hymn, then the educational function allows for the legal copying, distribution, projection and use of the hymn for that purpose, as long as it is not sung or used in worship. It would clearly be legal to bring in and use hymnals, but it's far easier to make individual photocopies.
The truth is, there is no provision in the copyright law that allows for copying or projecting a hymn or song – with or without the music – for educational or study purposes in the church. Unless a study group makes use of an original source, such as a hymnal, the group must obtain permission of the copyright owner in order to make copies or project the hymn.
Is it permissible to use the church’s CCLI or other music license to make copies for study? No, the music license does not cover photocopying or projecting for the purpose of group study. The music license is to be used solely for the purpose of congregational worship.
For more information, see the "Copyright & Licensing" area of the Discipleship Ministries website.